What do EDI and the Camino de Santiago proportion in commonplace?
Recently I just cycled the Camino de Santiago (Francais), going from St Jean Pieds de Port (France) to Santiago de Compostella (Spain). This is a journey of just over 800 kms (500 miles) with mountain climbs going from sea level to 1505m (4937ft) and back down again.
What brought about this madness you say? Well truth be told my wife had a particular birthday recently, one of those with a zero at the end, and it has been her ambition with the past 3 years to complete the Camino. Now, the true or Pilgrim’s way to complete this journey is on foot, however, this would take 35 to 40 days to complete. As we are both working (and unfortunately neither of us are teachers or college professors), we could not afford to take this kind of time off. We had 12 days available to complete the Santiago and decided to do it on bicycles. It was quite a challenge, we met every weather pattern; scorching sun, snow, rain, wind, hail, frost, etc., huge mountain climbs, never ending plains with wind that would drive you backwards, rough terrain and the odd bicycle malfunction. But we got through it and completed the journey in the 12 days we had afforded ourselves.
What on earth has any of the above got to do with EDI I hear you yell! Well, it was our (rather my wife’s) pre-planning and overall project management that gave us a successful outcome and tremendous sense of achievement. Like EDI, the key to implementing a successful EDI program is to plan, plan, plan and then have a champion to project manage the entire project. When we agreed to do the Camino we first of all did a lot of research, the logistics of getting there, take our own bikes or hire, what routes to take, where would we get accommodation, what clothes to bring, how do we keep our luggage as light as possible etc., etc.
To have a successful EDI implementation the same amount of planning must be put in place. You must decide where your organization lies in the supply chain (are you implementing on your own terms or are you responding to a trading partners requirements), what EDI standards and communication protocols do you need to adhere to, do you know which EDI transaction sets your trading partners will require, should you implement an on-premise or cloud based solution, do you have the resources to run EDI in-house or should you outsource to a qualified 3rd party EDI provider?
When you have planned for all of the above you need a dedicated project manager to make sure that all the parts come together, that there is open and ongoing communication between all interested parties (include the 3PL if the logistics and warehousing function is outsourced), that timelines and are met and that the proper business rules required are adhered to. If you outsource your EDI requirements to a 3rd party EDI provider, this organization will assume the role of your organizations project manager and will ensure that your EDI project is delivered in a timely, hassle free and cost effective manner. Like the Camino, implementing an EDI project is a challenge, but one that gives an immense sense of accomplishment when you go live, not to mention the long term cost savings and reduction in errors.