Committing to data integrity

The most important issue in EDI implementation is data integrity. Before your company implements an EDI system, Lawson recommends contacting your future trading partners and discussing data integrity.

Learning about data integrity

Data integrity is a commitment to having correct, up-to-date data. Valid data is the lifeline of your purchasing system. If you do not know the current item number and pricing information for a vendor's products, you cannot purchase from that vendor. This example illustrates one of the problems that incorrect, out of date data can cause:

ABC Best is a leading mechanical parts dealer, and has just completed the setup of their new EDI system. Henry Buffet is the inventory control specialist for ABC Best, and is responsible for purchasing office supplies. Henry sends out an EDI purchase order to A1 Office Supplies for three boxes of item number 367 (a case of blue pens). A1 Office Supplies receives the purchase order and ships ABC Best three boxes of item 367. But when Henry opens one of the boxes, he realizes there has been a mistake. He did not receive the blue pens he wanted; he got three boxes of erasers.

The problem in this example is that the item number 367 means different things to ABC Best and A1 Office Supplies. ABC Best's EDI system equates item 367 with a box of blue pens. A1 Office Supplies identifies item 367 as a box of erasers.

Without exchanging data and coming to an agreement on item and catalog numbers, your EDI system, similar to the one in this example, will fail or will produce unintended results.

Developing data integrity

The first step in developing data integrity comes during the planning stage. Before you implement your EDI system, you and your trading partner must agree on units of measure, vendor catalog numbers, and item identification numbers.

The next step in developing data integrity is constant communication. After you implement your EDI system, you should receive price/sales catalogs from your vendors regularly. Use these transactions to update your system with your vendors' current item numbers, prices, and units of measure.