Your selection of an EDI Network Provider should be focused on your business requirements more than the provider’s technical capabilities. There are many important issues to consider. These include:
What do you want the EDI Network Provider to do?
Do you require a basic EDI service or are you keen to explore a range of value-added services? Do you require your trading partner to deliver training and support to you and your partners? Can your provider help you rapidly onboard new trading partners? Do you need automatic rejection of documents with bad data before they reach your system? Can your service provider enable your line-of-business personnel to independently obtain data and reports on-demand and view the status of your business transactions at all stages in the supply chain? Quite often, the availability of these value-added services is a more important factor in your decision than cost alone.
What is the Providers reach?
How many of your trading partners already use a particular VAN? Does the provider have a particularly strong installed base within your industry sector? Does the VAN have a global presence, not only for the exchange of documents, but also for providing local customer support?
What is the Providers pricing structure?
Most EDI services charge by the amount of kilo-characters (KCs) within a document but other factors will be important such as whether timely delivery is important and the volume of transactions being exchanged. Most VAN’s offer flexible pricing structures including pay-as-you-go and monthly or annual subscriptions
What is the Providers influence in your industry?
Is the provider actively involved within the key industry associations in your sector? Does it have an active role in the worldwide EDI standards bodies?
Will the EDI Network Provider be around tomorrow?
Does the provider have a proven track record and is it likely to be around for the foreseeable future? Those organisations with global reach, the most comprehensive range of services, and the ability to deliver support regardless of worldwide location that will survive. Does your VAN give you all this?