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EDI managers oversee their company’s daily electronic data interchange (EDI) activities and strategic direction. Whether they’re managing a team of analysts or are the sole EDI specialist, they’re responsible for creating and supporting the processes around the exchange of business data and documents. Each workday, they collaborate across many cross-functional departments to ensure their company’s EDI transactions--sent and received--function properly.

Let’s look at five key tasks an EDI manager handles in a day:

1. Troubleshooting when things go wrong

EDI managers must monitor for red flags and errors continually because when things aren’t functioning properly, it’s their job to troubleshoot and resolve issues. Avoiding errors, or catching and resolving them quickly, helps companies avoid chargebacks and heavy fines from trading partners, as well as maintain good marks for EDI scorecarding.

Troubleshooting errors can sidetrack a day’s work for an EDI manager. It’s not always obvious what went wrong with a certain transaction so they must put on their detective hat and do some sleuthing. What if there’s no error notification? Or the EDI doesn’t come through? Bad data is unfortunate but inevitable. EDI managers are responsible to figure out why an EDI transaction failed, determine what went wrong and how to deal with it.

For example, suppose they send invoices to a trading partner and realize one invoice has failed to transmit. Looking closer, the EDI manager realizes that the invoice is missing a required item code. The invoice in question has the UPC code, but not the buyer’s SKU as required by the trading partner. The EDI manager relies on a data conversion table to populate the buyer’s SKU, keying off the UPC code. Maintaining these tables with cross-reference updates is a regular task in troubleshooting common EDI failures for both inbound and outbound transactions.

2. Collaborating with internal and external teams

An EDI manager’s role often sits within the IT department, but they work with colleagues across many teams on any given day. They provide timely information to the people who need it, sharing invoice and payment information with the Accounts Receivable team, verifying order quantities for the Warehouse team, or updating the Shipping department on shipping dates.

Let’s say the Accounts Receivable team wants to confirm whether a sales order has been invoiced. The EDI manager runs a report to look for missing invoices. If there’s a missing invoice, they will investigate to determine whether it’s an EDI issue. The EDI manager then works to address the issue so the Accounts Receivable team can receive payment.

Collaboration doesn’t stop with their internal teams. EDI managers work with customers and suppliers to resolve issues and develop new processes. Working with their EDI provider, their customer’s EDI team, or even their VAN provider, an EDI manager’s task is to ensure the right documents with correct data reach the trading partner on time.

3. Gaining visibility in data through reporting

EDI managers run reports daily to gain visibility into data and opportunities for analyses. They provide reports to communicate potential and urgent issues as well as track project status. They run reports to identify any issues as they arise. Can they pinpoint the cause of recurring errors? Can they see where issues are coming from to avoid chargebacks? 

The Customer Account team, for instance, wants to know whether there are any errors with inbound sales orders. The EDI manager might run a report or create a dashboard for the Customer Account team, to provide the necessary visibility into their specific customers’ orders.

By automating reporting, EDI managers can save time and alleviate manual processes, allowing them to catch potential critical issues promptly. Tying alerts to automatic reports is even more helpful in avoiding issues. Timeliness is crucial to EDI managers, who work to keep their supply chain moving.

4. Translation mapping

Aside from daily tasks, an EDI manager is always working on various projects. That includes onboarding new trading partners and building and testing new maps and mapping. While the process of translation is universal, it is often tailored to each individual business since each company uses its back-office systems differently and requires the data to be translated differently.

EDI managers work with new trading partners to build a map to ensure it meet each trading partner’s specifications and sends the correct information in each transaction. They also work with their current trading partners to map changes when specifications are updated. For example, an existing trading partner may require a new segment in their EDI 850 and the EDI manager must update their maps to reflect this new information requirement and thoroughly test it for quality change management.

Large trading partners require strict compliance, and if a company’s EDI software doesn’t include quality validation—especially for conditional logic—then the EDI manager must implement custom logic or workarounds to ensure they’re set up properly to meet those requirements. 

5. Onboarding and training for success

EDI is rarely taught in a college track anymore, so it is often learned through professional experience. Training new employees on EDI business processes falls to the EDI manager. Each company will have its own EDI landscape that may present a learning curve to a newcomer. It’s easy to underestimate how long training and onboarding can take. EDI as a system is a simple concept, but there are nuances with every trading partner and in each transaction.

The goal for the EDI manager is to train all the other cross-functional team members, such as customer account managers, buyers, shipping, and accounting, on just what they need to know so they can be self-sufficient with EDI. Not only implementing automation to reduce the amount of manual work required, but also empowering them to know where to go and how to resolve issues on their own. With clear expectation setting and quality onboarding and training, a company can fully realize the benefits that come with successfully implementing and managing their EDI solution.

Supply Chain Heroes

Each workday is different for all EDI managers, with a constant whirlwind of activity focused on these five tasks, plus many others. Each one could fill an entire day on its own, so it goes without saying that an EDI manager has a busy schedule maintaining their organization's EDI operations. Hats off to all the tireless EDI managers doing their part to keep the supply chain moving smoothly!  

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