ODYSSEY: The Leader in Defense Commerce Solutions Blog

Everything You Need to Know About Electronic Data Interchange

Posted by James Lusk on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 @ 16:08 PM

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What is EDI?

EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange, is commonly defined as the computer-to-computer exchange of business documents between business partners. The process allows a company to send information to another company electronically and in a standard electronic format, rather than using paper, snail-mail and fax machines.

Because EDI documents are processed electronically, all documents must be in a standard format. Without a standard format, each company would send documents using its own format and, much like a human speaking a foreign language, the receiver’s computer system doesn’t understand the sender’s company-specific format.

Many business documents can be exchanged using EDI, but the two most common are purchase orders and invoices. Other examples of business documents exchanged via EDI are advance ship notices, inventory documents, shipping status documents and more.

What are the benefits of EDI?

In order to grow and compete with other businesses, it is crucial for companies of all sizes to implement EDI. Those who have moved away from a paper-based exchange of business documents to EDI have experienced major benefits.

Increased Efficiency

  • Paper purchase orders can take up to 10 days from the time the buyer prepares the order to when the supplier ships it. EDI orders can take as little as one day.
  • Automating paper-based tasks allows your staff to concentrate on higher-value tasks and enables them to be more productive.
  • Electronic data exchange ensures that business-critical data is always up-to-date and can be tracked in real time. Real-time data can lead to more accurate decision making.

Reduced Cost

  • Transaction costs are reduced by about 35% when cutting out expenses related to paper, printing, reproduction, storage, filing, postage and document retrieval, according to EDI Basics.
  • Studies have consistently shown that manually processing a paper-based order can cost $70 or more, while processing an EDI order costs less than one dollar. 

Reduced Errors

  • According to EDI Basics, automating the process improves data quality, delivering at least a 30-40% reduction in transactions with errors—eliminating errors from illegible handwriting, lost faxes/mail and keying and rekeying errors.

Additionally, EDI promotes corporate social responsibility by replacing paper-based processes with electronic alternatives. Your company can save money and reduce its CO2 emissions at the same time. 

How can Odyssey help? 

We’ve designed our services with the DoD supplier in mind, and we want to help you move toward a streamlined process.

Most of the high-volume contracting vehicles, such as FedMall, General Services Administration (GSA) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), are moving toward Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) because of all the benefits we listed above. However, many small businesses don’t have EDI capabilities. And while some companies aren’t experiencing the stringent label requirements, you can bet they are coming. It is important for small businesses to use a platform that is easily adaptable and is also able to provide them with EDI services.

You don’t have to be an EDI expert to complete your transactions. Odyssey takes the pain out of EDI implementation by delivering easy-to-use, scalable and affordable EDI solutions. We also provide responsive technical support and ongoing customer service to help your company overcome any challenges.

Odyssey’s sole business is developing workflow process solutions for Department of Defense suppliers. This specificity is unique, which allows us to focus on your company’s success. We are committed to our partners and provide continual development and forward thinking solutions that help you overcome the challenging aspects of daily DoD commerce.

Contact us today to discuss your EDI needs.

Topics: EDI, Electronic Data Interchange, DoD approved software, dod compliance

EDI and VAN Services Aren't Always Glamorous But They Are Critical

Posted by Bo McMillan on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

Have you ever stopped to wonder how your email client works? We live in a world where exchanging messages is as simple as hitting “Send,” and hearing our phones beep as a new reply automatically shows up in our inboxes. Have you ever thought about the wealth of information that’s taking place behind the scenes for those messages to travel like that, though? You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t. Not everyone is interested in the logistics of data exchange. We live for it at Odyssey, though.

            Electronic data interchange, or EDI, is at the heart of what we do at Odyssey and, as critical as it is, one of our goals is to make sure our customers never have to worry about it. EDI essentially provides a standard for exchanging data via any electronic means. By adhering to these standards, two entities, in entirely different locations, can exchange complex data.  EDI, atSoftware integration its most basic, is the backbone of communication between the Government and Odyssey; hence why we think it’s so fundamental, and why we tend to get pretty excited talking about it.

            Unfortunately, for some, the process of EDI is a tedious, and ultimately frustrating, affair. Limitations to the adoption of EDI, such as companies sharing proprietary data, can cause issues with data exchange. To counteract this, Value-Added Networks, or VANs, were created. VANs act as mediators between companies so that data can be processed and exchanged appropriately. To that end, Odyssey took the necessary steps to become a government approved VAN. Think of a VAN like a post office. It takes the data and encapsulates it into something that can be shared between two entities, much like a post office placing appropriate stamps on your letters and then sending them out through their carriers. This sounds great on the surface, but VAN services are expensive and typically don’t have an easy-to-use interface component. Because of this, companies will sometimes pass up large contracts or special programs within the DoD that require special reporting or invoicing pathways. On top of this, companies that use a VAN will still need software to make practical use of the data.

            To bypass this mess, we made the Odyssey software to easily implement EDI connectivity with a user interface for business process functions such as:

  • RFQ noticfication, submission, and purchase acknowledgement
  • Contract management,
  • Mil-Std 129 R or Mil-Std 130 N label creation
  • Invoicing,
  • Submission of advanced shipment notices
  • Receipt of payment documentation and reporting,

            What does that mean from our customers’ standpoint? It means that EDI stops being a concern for them. Our software handles the logistical end of electronic data interchange and leaves the customer with a streamlined experience that takes just a few clicks to complete.

            Because ease of use is so important to Odyssey and its customers, we’ve created our software to be accessed anywhere, whether it be a PC, Mac, tablet, etc. This means that our customers have complete freedom in where they log into the Odyssey solution. We think this flexibility is paramount in today’s business world as more and more companies are operating inPrivate Cloud multiple geographic locations and employees working from home offices is becoming increasingly popular. We do recognize, however, that as cloud-based and web-based software become more prevalent so too do security risks. There are daily reports about data security and privacy breaches, viruses and malware, so we specifically constructed Odyssey’s software to offer all the conveniences of cloud-based architecture while simultaneously mitigating cyber security risks. No ads or outside sources are featured within the interface and our SaaS platform is accessed through private architecture and client-specific secure certificate domains. 

            Just like with email exchange clients, Odyssey’s software is at its best when the user isn’t concerned with the logistics of data exchanges happening in the background. We encourage our customers to enjoy the simple interface and the ease at which they can complete compliance and commerce tasks within the DoD space.

Topics: DoD approved software, WAWF, RFID Software, MIL-STD-129, dod compliance, MIL-STD 129R, MIL-STD 130 N, EDI, Government Approved VAN, VAN, Value Added Networks