Whilst Value Added Networks are essential for many supply chain organisations to be able to connect to partners, sending messages via these networks can come with several complications. These VAN landscape issues can broadly be condensed into three areas:
- Lack of internal resources/expertise – The more EDI connections your internal team has to maintain, the more resources and expertise will be required.
- Difficulty of tracing messages and spotting/resolving errors – Thanks to poor data visibility, should an error occur when routing messages via VANs it can be hard to identify where this happened and how to resolve it.
- Costs – From the per-message costs demanded by VANs to related staffing and server/maintenance costs, VAN connections can prove expensive.
Thankfully these issues can be resolved with the right approach. What’s more, this is true even for businesses with the most complex VAN landscapes. The key lies in VAN consolidation and efficient ERP integration.
The benefits of a single EDI connection
Unsurprisingly, the best way to eliminate the complications relating to multiple/inefficient VAN connections is to replace them with a single, fully managed connection to an EDI solution provider which itself acts as a Value Added Network. Nota bene: technology leaders in the field of EDI, such as ecosio, prefer the term “B2B network” instead of Value Added Network. Such a move provides numerous benefits, in particular relating to…
- Internal work – As explored in detail in our infographic here, fully managed providers offer invaluable help at all stages of the EDI process, meaning minimal internal work is required to ensure the continued success of structured message exchange with partners.
- Costs – Without the need to invest in expensive hardware or additional staff to handle message exchange via an EDI converter, businesses are able to save a significant amount of money by switching to a fully managed provider.
- Partner onboarding – Unlike connecting to partners via unmanaged VANs, connecting to partners via a fully managed VAN is a different experience altogether. With ecosio, for example, clients are provided with a dedicated project manager who oversees all connections from start to finish. As a result, connections are reliable (thanks to comprehensive testing), and can be completed quickly.
- Message monitoring / error resolution – Perhaps the biggest benefit of moving to a fully managed EDI solution is the enormous difference this will make to the ease of monitoring messages and identifying and resolving errors. Whereas (as we have covered) tracking messages is extremely difficult in complicated multi-VAN environments, this is not the case with fully managed solutions. With ecosio’s solution, for example, automated alerts can be set up in case of failure, plus the monitor platform enables clients to see exactly where a message has failed and what is needed to resolve it. Significantly, too, ecosio’s EDI experts provide round-the-clock monitoring and will work proactively to resolve any errors – a far cry from legacy EDI landscapes where messages can fail silently with both sides unaware!
- Accountability – Another significant plus to enlisting the help of a fully managed VAN is the fact that by doing so you pass the responsibility for successful message exchange (and resultant accountability) completely to them.
- Flexibility – On top of all these features, a fully managed VAN also offers flexibility. Should your requirements change for any reason, amending your EDI connections is simple and fast, as a fully managed VAN should have the ability to conduct message exchange over all main protocols (e.g. AS2, AS4, OFTP2, X.400 etc.). Similarly, some providers, such as ecosio, also offer additional Web EDI and supplier relationship management modules (e.g. supplier self assessment or audit management), which can be added on as required. In short with a connection to a fully managed VAN your EDI solution will adapt and grow alongside your business.
Want more information on optimising your VAN landscape?
This article is a snippet from our white paper Everything You Need to Know About VANs. In this paper we explore the different types of VANs, the complications associated with handling VAN connections in-house and how deep ERP integration can help (among other topics).
To download your copy and find out how you can optimise your VAN connections and streamline your EDI landscape, simply click here and fill in your details.
Alternatively, if you have any questions about VANs or anything else EDI related, feel free to get in touch! We are always happy to help!