How to Ready Yourself for Vendor EDI Onboarding

by Jodi Abrams

Vendor EDI often sits second fiddle to customer EDI. Once you can get your customer EDI under control and satisfy customer requests, it is time to turn your attention to vendors. This endeavour while utilizing similar transactions is a vastly different undertaking to customer EDI.

With customer EDI you are at the mercy of your customer’s requirements and specifications. With Vendor EDI, you are the customer, and you control your destiny. While vendor EDI does turn into a simpler onboarding process, there is a little more up-front work to get started.

First, you will need to determine what transactions you want to support. Typically, the 850, 855, 856 and 810 are a good starting point. For more details on these, check out our post that goes over the details. Once you have determined what to support, you need to ready your system.

SAP may need some configuration to support these new transactions. You’ll need to ensure your 850 output condition record can include a vendor option and an IDOC output. Additionally, you will likely need some PO configuration with respect to the confirmation control key. This allows you to control what the 855 (PO Acknowledgement) and 856 (Advance Ship Notice) update on your PO. It will also help control how these updates impact MRP. You can also determine if you would like the ASN to trigger the creation of an inbound delivery for your receipt, and see if you can incorporate RF Scanning into your receiving process - you may need to then specify label requirements to your vendors.

Once you are set up, it is advised to run a few tests by mocking up some inbound data to ensure your PO and MRP process work as expected. You can then use this sample data to work backwards and create a set of EDI specifications that you will send to your vendor. This is where things get easier – since you are controlling the EDI specification, the data you are receiving should be consistent allowing you to create only one, or at most a small number of maps to use to translate your incoming vendor EDI data to IDOCs.

I suggest you create a simple vendor onboarding package. If you are working with our EDI Managed Service team, they will do this for you free of charge. It will include your EDI information, and VAN/AS2 information, business/technical contacts, overall testing strategy including any specific scenarios you want to run and the EDI specifications.

With that in hand, your buyers can reach out to their counterparts and request or mandate the switch to EDI. Of course, the approach for this is up to you – whether it is a requirement, or just a strong suggestion that they begin EDI with you.

From here, turn things over to your EDI team, and watch as the manual work is slowly replaced by more and more automation!

About the author: Jodi Abrams

Jodi is an expert in SAP and eCommerce integration, and is Vice President of Applications for CONTAX.