Category Archives: Internet

Connected Data Transporter trumps public cloud for users

Seeking a file-sharing and collaboration tool that offers efficient, remote access to storage, switch to the Connected Data Transporter.

One company adopted Dropbox to support more than 40 staff and volunteers that needed access to documents, photos and videos of church services.

“The hope was we could replace our internal storage with Dropbox,”  “We created a folder and people started to upload data, and it would sync to everyone’s hard drive. There was no way to turn it off and it filled up the hard drives on people’s small laptops.”

users had the option to access files via Dropbox’s Web interface.

“The navigation was clunky, so people stopped using it,” he said. “That was the issue.”


Understanding Context, Improving Timing Help Avoid Invoice Deductions

Both retailers and suppliers – understand that invoice deductions can be  useful devices for enforcing compliance. In part this is because retailers simply don’t have many tools to really press the issue when suppliers can or will not meet the agreed-upon conditions for product purchase and delivery. Deductions provide some financial redress for buyers, and are a negative incentive for suppliers.
Unfortunately, when invoice deductions are triggered, they can poison or destroy the supplier-customer relationship, causing damage far greater than the issue or issues that activate them.

But deductions (and positive incentives as well) don’t have to be problems. They begin as part of the sales agreement, an understanding between the supplier and the retailer about how they will do business together. Fundamentally this is an agreement to cooperate for the benefit of both businesses, and if it is a good agreement everyone should profit.

Even the best agreements, however, often fail to foresee unexpected difficulties and delays. While problems, in general, can be expected, specific complications are frequently unique and therefore difficult to anticipate.

Fortunately, suppliers and retailers can keep what are usually relatively small issues from turning the relationship adversarial by paying special attention to both context and timing.

3 Ways To Make Onboarding Suppliers Easier


Build the greatest supplier collaboration system yet, but if your suppliers don’t show up and endorse it, you are nowhere. The answer is three steps to bring the suppliers onboard. Plan, Prioritize and be Proactive: the “Three P’s”.

1. Plan
Yes, planning is the first step before anything else happens? Find out about your suppliers. Break them into two major groups:

B2B Suppliers: Those using a defined EDI format to send and receive data. Suppliers will adapt to a system which uses a format which they already are using instead of developing a format specific to your need.

Online Suppliers: Most important information to get from them is the type and version of browsers they are using. Onboarding of suppliers using supported browsers should occur first. Now work with the remaining suppliers to either change browsers or work with your technical team to add support for…

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What Wikipedia Won’t Tell You About EDI

Picture appears courtesy of Giulia Forsythe.  This week’s blog was written by Kristen Kearns, Manager of EDI Services for Aurora Technologies.  Lots of people search for information on Wikipedia, don’t they?  What Wikipedia doesn’t tell you about EDI, could hurt you!  Or hurt your business.  Read on to get the 411.

First off, Wikipedia talks about Standards in EDI.  EDI standards are not the “be all end all” of a successful EDI operation.  I’ve seen all types of variations to the Standards.  This runs the gamut from data not being where it’s supposed to be to not following element code standards or putting too long or too short data in data elements, etc.  How do you work around this?  If you have a robust EDI solution, such as Liaison’s Delta/ECS, you could have separate maps for each trading partner accommodating for those variations.

Wikipedia talks about Specifications for the data to be transmitted and they discuss that larger trading partners are usually unwilling to modify their business practices.  So what happens if you cannot meet their guidelines?  Do you have a way to create a work around?  Can you save data on the way in, keeping in mind that it needs to be returned on the documents you have to send back to the trading partner?  Over the last few years, I’ve been seeing that the PO detail line number often needs to be returned.  The partner wants their line number, not yours. If your ERP resequences the line numbers based on item number order, that could be an issue.

Another situation we encounter often that Wikipedia doesn’t talk about is when a Trading Partner makes changes but doesn’t inform you OR tells you the day/week of the change which doesn’t give you enough time to prepare.  Then you are scrambling to accommodate those changes to keep data flowing properly and maybe more importantly, to maintain your trading partner relationships.  Great communication works both ways.  Make sure you let your trading partners know well in advance if you’re going to be making some changes on your end.

What happens if you don’t have a way to transmit data the way your trading partners wants you to.  What if your trading partners wants AS2 (such as the case with Walmart and many others) and you don’t have that capability?  That’s just another reason to make sure your EDI software can accommodate the latest and greatest transmission methods.

Something I ran into recently, was that the VAN that a client is using was replacing certain characters in the data that was being sent in from a trading partner.  The partner didn’t know why we weren’t getting what they sent.  This took a lot of digging.  That’s my most important tip of the day – you need to look at all touch points of the data!

Click here to see a case study on how we helped Print Media go from zero EDI capability to a fully integrated and efficient EDI operation.


How ERP, CRM and SCM Fit Together

We have recently looked at various Supply Chain models including “Lean” Supply Chain and virtual manufacturing. There are others too; for instance, distributors who purchase everything they sell. We have looked at what kind of software constitutes a Supply Chain system.
Some of our conclusions to date are:

1.  Very few Supply Chain models are identical.

2.  Yes, a company MIGHT be able to purchase a single system to cover the entire Supply Chain. Some ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning software) vendors furnish enough modules to do everything, but a lot of companies need extensive modifications to complete their mission.

3.  A lot of companies use their ERP as the “engine” to power their other applications like CRM (Customer Relationship Management software).

4.  Sharing data with partners has become a necessity to remain competitive. EDI is the enabler to wrap in supply partners, customer, logistics partners, etc.

5.  Many of the existing ERPs are not suited for all Supply Chain models (example: virtual manufacturers).

Lots of Supply Chain systems depend on data stored inside enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and/or alternately in  customer relationship management (CRM) packages. Yes, you could get the data for your Supply Chain systems from legacy systems (bet that  means spreadsheets!). Seems like you should install ERP before anything else. Most ERP vendors offer SCM modules, so you will need ERP first. There is a lot to be said for enterprise-wide software packages but maybe you need a more specialized system.

Is Social Media Doing Anything For You?

Is Social Media all about true interaction between two parties or is it just “tapping keys”? Should the word “social” be changed in Social Media to either “Digital Media” or “Emedia.”? We have defined Social Media as “Digital communication between multiple individuals or organizations in an effort to further the personal and professional endeavors of each,”
I saw a great article on Social Media written by Al Maag, Chief Communications Officer, Avnet, Inc. In it, he talks about growing up and his belief that most of his friends who became successful achieved their success because of the social skills and the relationships they formed within their group. He and his friends are all convinced that they learned these social traits in their teens, and just by hanging out. He also says he was fortunate not having grown up with the electronic tools people have today. They had to interact with others and learn the value of street smarts. They had to use their relationships and interpersonal skills to help create their futures. They worked and played as a team, won and lost, and experienced life. They worked at being friendly and establishing friends. They learned how to socialize, negotiate, communicate, and read body language. Sizing someone up was an art as well.


Something New, Something Old

Experience of a friend:
My Apple iPhone 4S was acting up so in a moment of unwarranted extravagance, I upgraded to an iPhone 6 which now has more do-dads on it than a BMW.


Anyway, Ann and I took the Pacific Surfliner (the San Clemente Creeper) to San Diego this morning.
Guess what?  No tickets.  No email. No credit card.  No cash.  Got to the San Juan Capistrano depot and opened the iPhone app for Amtrak and punched in the 9:47 AM to San Diego.  We got on the train, held up the phone, showed the conductor the image of the QR Code (barcode) on the screen, he scanned it with his gizmo and moved on.



I was thinking how cool is that but then he had to take out a piece of paper, write “San Diego “on it then stick it in an overhead slot.. Just like in the 1800s. Anyway, little by little – – –