Slow down, you move too fast…

… or something like that…  The title comes from an old song by Simon & Garfunkle, a “folk-pop” duo from the 60s and 70s…  They gave us a LOT of hit records in their years together – and Paul Simon certainly had a string of hits after they split.  Art Garfunkle didn’t do as well, but he still stayed busy and active in the recording industry.

I always think of the old adage about “stopping and smelling the roses” when I think of that old song (BTW, it’s “FEELING GROOVY”)…  Which then leads to thinking about “tunnel vision”…  And all of this came up today because of a comment made to a previous post that fairly SCREAMS “sales pitch!” and … well, I’ve never been a fan of the heavy-hitting sales pitch.

Years ago, I actually was in sales – I was selling new (and used) Chrysler and Plymouths for a dealer in the San Francisco Bay Area.  This was in the late 80s and I only did it for a few months.  I had to get out of there because, while I love cars – I’m a certifiable car nut – I couldn’t deal with all of the high-pressure tactics that so many sales people used.  It actually kind of shocks me to think about how many of the same sales tactics and ploys are still being used in 2009 – over 20 years later!

It’s these “hard sell” tactics that got under my skin today.  Somebody read a blog and thought it would be a great opportunity to use a comment back on the blog to push their product – which is a service, really – as an outsourced EDI program.  Software As A Service (SaaS) has been buzzing around for the past few years and is really taking hold in any MIS/IT environment you can think of…  And it’s also always being pushed in the EDI world, for sure.  So many companies have been making many dollars on offering outsourced EDI processes….

And please don’t misunderstand me with this blog – I certainly know the value of SaaS – especially when it pertains to EDI – but what got to me was more of how some people don’t seem to think of how EDI is being used (or has been used) by a company when they “sales pitch” their solutions.

As I said, there are a great many companies out there that offer “outsourced” EDI solutions.  Some may be known to you, others may not.  There’s companies like SPS Commerce, DI Central, Red Tail Solutions, EDI Direct, Direct EDI, ACT, and more and more and more.  Even many of the “big VANs” offer some kind of SaaS EDI solution…  Inovis has their webforms product which, in a minor way, can compete with their own VAN services AND their software (TrustedLink)…

Outsourced EDI (aka SaaS) can be highly beneficial to many a company when it comes to EDI processes.  You could be a small supplier of (dare I use it again?) Widgets to a bunch of retailers – big and small.  By having a way to process EDI documents, you can sell to the big retailers (WalMart, Target, and so on) and also to the smaller and medium sized retailers (local chains and single outlets) that also are EDI capable.  Having an outsourced EDI program (SaaS) can elevate you up to play with the big boys, but still keep your overhead low and complexity down at your “small boy” level.

Take a look at normal  VAN services, for example.  Depending on your volume of data being transmitted, you can pay (easily) thousands of dollars a month for your VAN connection – to be able to send and receive your data.  Costs can range from just a few cents per KC (Kilo-Character) to maybe as high as 25 cents per KC…

Then there are the costs of buying and implementing an application.  A simple and yet exceedingly effective product like Inovis’ TrustedLink can cost you thousands of dollars – tens of thousands – to purchase and put into place.  Then there’s the aspect of yearly maintenance and licensing agreements and support – again, thousands to tens of thousands of dollars…  So, for a small business, that can be a BIG chunk of change… 

Based on just these two costs alone, SaaS EDI is making a lot of sense.

But here’s where the sales pitch can rub the wrong way.  Let’s say that, instead of being a small fry, you’re a really big fish in the world.  You don’t just make widgets, but you also make all sorts of other products and have multiple locations and divisions around the country … or even around the world.  THIS is where SaaS EDI can be less of a benefit for you.

To a major retailer – like a WalMart or Target – or to a major manufacturer/supplier – like Mattel or Nike – these costs are very small potatoes.  They already have good sized MIS/IT departments and can easily afford that big outlay for the EDI platform AND the monthly VAN costs AND whatever other costs come along.  Oh, and they can easily manage it all “in-house” and have it all easily integrated into their ordering and accounting and warehousing (and whatever other) applications they use.  It’s more direct-connect EDI – retailer to supplier – with just the VAN service in between. 

This is not to say that SaaS can’t be used in the same way.  But it can surely slow down the process just a bit and it also takes a lot of control away from you – as a big guy.  As a big guy, you’ve got more at stake and more reasons to keep it in-house and not oursource your EDI.

A few years ago, a good pal of mine that works for Disney, related to me how Disney decided to “outsource” their internal help desk/tech support functions.  Now, for those not in-tune with “the House of Mouse”, Disney will generally make a lot of changes to their applications – including naming them after Disney characters – and train their people how to use “their” systems, their way.  So instead of using, say TrustedLink, the EDI person knows it as “Minnie” … or “Daisy” … And their version of Oracle or SAP may be called “Goofy” and “Pluto”.  Imagine the trouble when tech support guy Bob at “TechSupport R Us” gets a call from Walt at Disney, telling Bob that he’s got a problem with “Mickey” or “Donald”…


When I first started with the retailer I was working for, I started off in the tech support office, helping users do what they  needed to do – use the system.  And it would often amaze and bewilder me how many of those users didn’t actually KNOW what they were using.  They’d submit a job or run a process with some variables.  But, when they were trained to use the process, they were told “oh, don’t worry about those questions, just hit enter” and they’d page through a number of variables and parameters that were defaulting to the proper response for the job.

But, just like Walt at Disney having issues with Mickey, the users didn’t know how to answer the questions that Bob may have asked.  Because Walt didn’t know the answers.  And Bob didn’t know how Walt used the program.

This can also happen when you start working with SaaS and outsourced EDI – and other applications.  You can save some money and maybe even some hassle, but you then may get into a situation where the company you’re getting that Software as a Service from doesn’t really know or understand how you’re using it.  And you may not understand exactly what that software is doing.

With that retailer I was working with expanded the EDI program to include the 810 invoice, there were a number of vendors and suppliers that used “outsourced EDI” to receive the PO and send back the ASN.  And now they’ve got a new document to send – the invoice.

Where the trouble came from, however, was in how that SaaS solution was packaged and maybe – just maybe – some of the users didn’t understand about what they needed to put into a certain field so that the retailer would be able to process the inbound 810 properly.  Maybe in the field marked “description” – they’d put a description of the product they were shipping instead of realizing that they were on a page devoted to “terms” and should have (instead) put a description of the terms of payment of the invoice.  So you saw “widgets” instead of “Net 60″….

This is where SaaS solutions can fall apart and not be right for everybody.

And that’s really what my problem with the sales pitch was about – that here’s an offer being pushed and yet the pusher doesn’t even know what the problem really is.

When I was selling Chryslers all those years ago – I made it a priority to know what the customer was looking for – an economical commuter – and steer them towards a Plymouth Colt or Sundance, rather than trying to push them into a fully loaded (and quite the gas guzzling) Chrysler 5th Avenue. 

It’s also kind of like what I do here – when I’m writing and blogging – in that I kind of know the target audience – people that are in the EDI world – and I talk about EDI issues and problems and concerns, rather than trying to talk to you about how to grow perfect Peonies or resplendant roses or telling you how to bait that hook to catch the biggest mackeral or trout in the lake.

It’s all about knowing your audience and not making some wild pitch and moving way too fast for your intended…

got plan?

The above is with all due respect to the Milk Advisory Board and their advertising campaigns.  But, the other day, I came across this wonderful bit of news online… And I thought – wow…  Take a read…

 Bank Robber Hires Decoys on Craigslist, Fools Cops

By Caroline McCarthy, CNET News

In an elaborate robbery scheme that’s one part The Thomas Crown Affair and one part Pineapple Express, a crook robbed an armored truck outside a Bank of America branch in Monroe, Wash., by hiring decoys through Craigslist to deter authorities.

It gets better: He then escaped in a creek headed for the Skykomish River in an inner tube, and the cops are still looking for him. “A great amount of money” was taken, Monroe police said, but did not provide a dollar value.

It appears to have unfolded this way, according to a Seattle-based NBC affiliate: Around 11:00 a.m. PDT Sept. 30, the robber, wearing a yellow vest, safety goggles, a blue shirt, and a respirator mask went over to a guard who was overseeing the unloading of cash to the bank from the truck. He sprayed the guard with pepper spray, grabbed his bag of money, and fled the scene.

But here’s the hilarious twist. The robber had previously put out a Craigslist ad for road maintenance workers, promising wages of $28.50 per hour. Recruits were asked to wait near the Bank of America right around the time of the robbery–wearing yellow vests, safety goggles, a respirator mask, and preferably a blue shirt. At least a dozen of them showed up after responding to the Craigslist ad.

“I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour,” one of the unwitting decoys, named Mike, said to the NBC station. As it turns out, they were simply placed there to confuse cops who were looking for a guy wearing a virtually identical outfit.

Authorities eventually found the getaway inner tube (a getaway inner tube!) and suspect that accomplices may have picked up the robber in a boat. According to the NBC affiliate, police hope to track him down by figuring out who posted the Craigslist ad in the first place.

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark was not immediately available for comment.

Now, My thinking of “WOW!” was because of how – well – how much thought and effort this guy did in setting up this crime….  I mean, he planned his escape route, put out an ad to “hire decoys” so that he’d blend into the crowd and not be caught…  Kind of like “The Thomas Crown Affair” – the remake – in which he blends in with the crowd and nobody suspects that he’s got a multi-million dollar piece of artwork rolled up in his briefcase.  Instead, he looks like any regular art patron, stopping by on a break or between meetings…

And it’s that kind of planning – and forward thinking – that can mean the success of any project we’re considering or working on – whether of criminal intent or just something simple and easy as EDI.

“Simple and easy as EDI…?  Did he really just say that…?”

Yes.  Yes I did.

But on the planning front, how good or bad our projects turn out can easily be related to how well planned and thought out our project is.  Do we have plans for possible flaws in our plans?  Do we have back-up contingencies?  Have we thought of any possible negative impacts or issues that may occur?

Or are we just going up to the armored car and saying “stick ‘em up!” without any kind of plan or escape route….?

EDI is not something we can just do “off the cuff” without thinking and planning and follow-through.  We can’t be the Elle Woods that Professor Callahan thinks said “I think I’ll go to law school today!” (from the movie “Legally Blonde”).  We have to be the Elle Woods that actually THINKS about what we’re doing and PLANS for what we want to accomplish.  We have to but some work into it and think it through.

True, in “Legally Blonde”, Elle does change her plans – from merely trying to recapture her boyfriend – to truly learning something and becoming more than what she seems on the surface.  And while EDI may never be THAT exciting, well…  It did show, however, how Ms. Woods was able to change her plans and her goals and still have a successful outcome – even if her original plan was no longer a viable option for her.

Think about the first time your company decided to “go EDI”…  They had these grand notions of … well, doing whatever it is that they had those notions to do.  But, along the way, there have been changes and additions; problems and hurdles; solutions and outcomes; and your EDI program is where it is today.  We learned some lessons, sure.  But we had some basic and solid plans to begin with.

And it’s that planning that probably had a lot with how successful the EDI program we’re working has been.

For example, when I started with EDI with My current job, it was a small program.  We traded only 1 document (the 850 PO) and had about … 30 trading partners.  Not a huge program… Especially for a fairly large retailer.  At the time, we had more than 300 stores in 10 states… True, we’re not Wal*Mart or Target or Costco – but we’re not Mom & Pop Store, with only 1 or 2 locations in one town, either…  “OH, Spud!  I’m a chain!” (from “Steel Magnolias”)…

But now, we’ve got well over 800 trading partners; we’re processing the 850, 856 and the 810; and about 85% of all the POs we write are sent via EDI.  We send and receive a few thousand documents per month.  And we’re pretty successful at it, too.

And we got there by planning…  But also a bit by … well, having good trading partners.  Just like our bank robber (above) probably had some good accomplices that he’s splitting that bag of loot with.  People that met him at the river and took him to their hide-out…  And even the “un-witting” accomplices that answered the ad on Craigslist and showed up in the requested outfit.

Planning and forethought can really make – or break – anything we do.  And it’s also true that all of the planning in the world may not always work out as we … well … planned … but it sure doesn’t hurt.

Hmm… “I think I’ll go to law school today!”  Or, rather, “I think I’ll tackle some EDI today!”  Yeah, that’s better!

Got plan?

Author: Craig Dunham – EDI Coordinator
Read more about Craig here:




I’ll buy that for a dollar!

If you’re old enough (or have an extensive enough Sci-Fi DVD/movie collection), you may remember the film RoboCop from 1987.  It was directed by Paul Verhoeven, who later became famous for that fantastic piece of cinematic achievement – Showgirls!  But he also gave us the Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger classic “TOTAL RECALL”, and another classic of camp cinematic achievement “Basic Instinct”.

RoboCop was a futuristic view of life in the US – specifically in Detroit, MI – where violent crime is the norm – much like today?  Throughout the movie, there are glimpsed scenes of a sitcom TV show (later identified as “It’s Not My Problem”) where a major character uses the catch phrase “I’ll buy that for a dollar!

This wonderful ditty of a catch-phrase came to Me over the past few days when I was reading a post on the EDI-L Yahoo! group about “What is a decent price/cost per EDI message?” and everybody started weighing in with replies – some giving us examples of how much it costs per message at their company (about 50 cents per message) and others going down the “I pay 20 cents per KC” and others talking about the varied costs of the VANs per KC charges.  The poster suggested something about “32 cents per message” – a flat fee.

But here’s where the logic of the question – and the answers – falls apart.

Think about the documents – the messages – which you work with everyday in your EDI system…  Some are POs, some are ASNs, and some are Invoices.  You may be also sending or receiving catalog data, revised POs, acknowledgements, and more.  And now think about the SIZE of those messages.  The 997 Functional Acknowledgement (FA) can be a very short document or message – maybe just a hundred characters long.  It takes 10 of those to make a single KC…  Well, it takes 10 and nearly a quarter to make that KC – there are 1024 characters in a KC.

And then look at a BIG record – the 832 Price/Sales Catalog – and how many KCs are included.  It’s probably a few hundred KCs long – at least.

Or just think about a simple set of transactions:

     ·         A PO for a single line item
The FA
Another FA (for the ASN)
An Invoice
     ·         Another FA

So we’ve got 6 documents.  But now let’s say that the PO is for 15,000 units of the single item.  It, too, will be a small document – we’ll say its 1 KC of data.  Above, I show an FA at about 1/10th of a KC.  The Invoice will also probably be a short document – as it’s for just the single item – so another single KC of data flow.  In just 5 documents, we’ve got less than 3 KCs of data.

But that ASN; now there’s a big document to trade…  Let’s say that the vendor packages those items being ordered – My famous WIDGETS! – at 10 units per carton.  With 15,000 units, that’s 1500 Cartons!  And if your ASN is a carton level detail, that’s 1500 line items – actually 3000 lines (2 for each carton) – plus the data for the Shipment level and the Order level loops.  Now we’re talking SIZE.  Of course, we may still only be talking about – maybe – 10,000 characters – 10 KC.

But the concept of paying per message – now that’s not really quite fair is it…?  You’re paying 32 cents for that ASN, but you’re also paying 32 cents for the FA.  Big price difference…! 

For that 10 KC document, you’re spending 3.2 cents per KC.  But for that FA at 100 CHARACTERS, you’re spending – what – $3.20 per KC…?  Or is it $32.00….?  And if it’s just that 1 KC PO or Invoice, it’s .32 cents per KC.

Let’s take that comparison out of the EDI world for a second; let’s think about houses.  Assume that a new program comes down the pike where EVERY house will cost the same.  Size, location, amenities, all the rest – doesn’t matter.  It’s all about a unit – the house.  And each house will sell for $250,000.  The problem is that you can have small shacks of 500 square feet selling for the same price as one of the big, 5000 square foot mansions in Beverly Hills or a Malibu Beach house.  A 400 square foot studio “condo” in “the ghetto” selling for the same price as a huge 8000 sf penthouse apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York.

Can you see the problem with this logic?  Using the same concepts I used above on the KC scale, let’s go to the unit of measurement for buildings – the square foot.  In that 500 sf shack, you’re spending $500 per square foot!  But that mansion?  You’re only spending about 50 bucks a square foot.  It’s 10 times the cost for the smaller space, once broken down to the square foot level.  The studio is $625 per foot and the penthouse is just $31.25 per square foot.

Which place would YOU rather have…?  Where’s the bargain…?  Would you buy that concept for a dollar?

It’s the same problem in “per message” pricing vs. “per KC” pricing.  You’ve got these tiny little messages costing as much as the huge monster messages.  And your figures are skewed.  Now, since it costs as much to send the FA as it does to send the Catalog, you might get trading partners that balk at sending the FA for the traded documents.  Then you’ll get trading partners using charge-backs to enforce that FA compliance.

Suddenly, the “low cost per message” now starts to have a lot of other costs involved.  Charge-backs and the human hours required to track down messages – if they’ve been received by your trading partner – and more.  All to save – what, a few cents?

And that’s really one of the problems I’ve often talked about – especially on those groups – in that you can’t just look at the basic cost – the per KC charge – and base your decision off of that fee.  If you do, you’ll likely end up costing yourself a LOT more money in the long run.  Suddenly, that cheap 2 cents per KC rate you worked so hard to get is really costing you an extra 5 cents per KC in other features and benefits that maybe were included in the 6 cent per KC quote you got from that other VAN or SaaS provider you also heard from.  That cut rate deal maybe isn’t such a deal anymore.

There is another catch-phrase that comes to mind – Caveat Emptor; Latin for “BUYER BEWARE”.  It basically means you should look into what you’re buying – and all the aspects of it – and not just buy something without thinking.  Another “Look before you leap” comes to mind.

I’ve said it before – maybe in a blog, maybe in our forums, maybe on EDI-L or some other EDI related group.  But I’ve mentioned how – every once in a while – I’ll get a call or an e-mail or … something … from a VAN or network provider promising Me that they can save Me “50% of your VAN costs!” – expecting that I’m just going to JUMP right onto their wagon and sign up to save a few pennies.  But then again, what about the possible down time?  Or the archival storage?  Or any of the other features I get from My current VAN provider that aren’t included in that “50% off” cost…?

You get what you pay for – there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch – and everything has strings attached and other aspects of the deal to consider.

Yep, I’ll buy that for a dollar, indeed!

Author: Craig Dunham – EDI Coordinator
Read more about Craig here:

“bring a teddy bear to work” day

I’d heard that today was “BRING YOUR TEDDY BEAR TO WORK” day and wish I’d known in advance.  I’m a collector of Teddy Bears – even having one of the first ones that I had as a kid.  He’s now in his 30s and still sits on My bed at home.  Teddy Bears have also influenced another hobby of Mine – My PT Cruiser and car shows.  If you’ve seen a lot of the custom PT Cruisers on the roads out there, you’ll notice that a lot of them – maybe as many as half? – are customized and personalized – with flames, as woodies, as old surfer wagons, with 50s or 40s or even 30s motifs and all sorts of other styles.

Of course, there are just as many that are simple, plain and unadorned.  Simple economy cars – even if they’re not too good with the MPG.

But I would have loved to have brought one of My Teddies to work today… Maybe the 5 foot tall polar bear.  Or the one My mom got Me for My 40th birthday from Vermont Teddy Bear Company – with custom clothing and My name embroidered on his back.  Or maybe the one from My youth…?  Could even go with current events and bring in the Banker Bear a pal gave Me for Christmas a few years ago.

I use My  teddies in the “theme” of My PT Cruiser – and take quite a selection of them with Me to the shows I attend and use them as … well … props.  PT Bearnum (My PT Cruiser) is festooned with bears of all shapes and sizes.  And then there are all of the bear paw prints on the car; a very cohesive look.  I’ve won a few awards and was a runner up in “Crowd Favorite” at a show a few years back.

But it’s this customization – this personalization of the Cruisers that comes to mind with My comments today.

Over on the EDI-L yahoo group, somebody had posted about how a semi-non-technical person was hired to fill a supervisory position (a contractor, really) over and above the regular employees that had been working for the company for a while and have major amounts of experience in IT and with EDI.

Somewhere in the thread, one poster commented on how upper management (the ones making the hiring decisions) seem to feel that “non-tech” people make for better employees than “tech” people – at least when it comes to management – or business skills.  And I had to disagree.  Where I work – our 1st level support positions generally tend to come to us from the stores.  They understand how we do things, why we do things and the way things work at the store level – they’ve BEEN THERE.

In the original post, it could be that our poster got his feelings a bit hurt because he’d wanted the job and they hired this outside source.  But maybe the upper management wanted some new ideas – some new ways to take what they’ve got – a functioning EDI program – and make it better.  Make it different.  Customize it, personalize it and make it a much slicker program – something more in-tune with a changing philosophy, a changing business landscape, a changing world.

If you’ve ever been to a custom car show – whether a PT Cruiser show or the Japanese Imports (Rice Rockets) or hot rods from the fifties and sixties – you’ll notice that there are many cars that are similar to others, and yet are completely their own creation and often very unique and different from the others.  Even if they’re the same make and model of car – the Chrysler PT Cruiser, for example – you can have so many different ideas and concepts and projects and looks and feels and … you get the idea, right?

Same can be said of our MIS/IT departments and our EDI programs.  We all don’t use the same documents, we all don’t require the same data segments and elements.  We all use the documents and the data that will best suit our own needs.  And our own business practices.  It’s what fits US.

Just like My PT Cruiser – PT Bearnum – fits ME.  It’s something from My world and My desires and My tastes – My Bears – and it’s put onto a similar “medium” as the guy that’s into Winnie the Pooh characters…  Or a fan of RC model planes… or hot air balloons, Betty Boop, Charlie Brown and his pals, Disney villains, Little Red Riding Hood, or even Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra and the “Rat Pack”…  not all themes work together and all are unique and different approaches to the same vehicle.  And then there are the PT Cruisers with the “factory” flames or the “factory” woody look or whichever.  There are the unique – and not-so-unique – flaming paint jobs.

And these are just like some of our EDI programs.  Some of use the EDI application we do right out of the box; with no changes, alterations or customizations needed.  Some of us use EDI applications that are custom made for us – based on a box stock application – but fully customized and personalized to suit out own business needs.

Same can be said of the hiring practices above.  The company may have found that it would better suit their needs to hire an outside source – with a different background and experience than our poster – and bring him on to manage the group and maybe – just maybe – point them in a new direction or down a different road.  Maybe take their fine running system and finely tune that engine to really make it roar and get and give more bang-for-the-buck – balancing and blue-printing the engine, super-charging it, adding performance enhancers and features – all to really make it GO!

And maybe – just maybe – it was easier to hire somebody with that “new way of thinking” as a leader, rather than promoting the “same old thinking” to leader and bringing in the “new way” as an underling and causing strife and discord from the start.

Often times, it seems that a trained monkey could do many of the IT jobs out there.  You just train them to push button A when light B goes off or throw lever C at 12:15 PM.  It’s not rocket science.  But then again, even rocket scientists had to be trained SOMEPLACE.  Maybe they were the monkey earlier on.

So maybe hiring the outside guy rocked the boat and made some people … less than pleased.  Maybe they wanted a really special look and feel to their program that they weren’t getting from the guys that just wanted that PT Cruiser with the factory flame package…  They wanted some OOMPH and something stupendous and unique – they wanted flames – and fireworks – and maybe even some bears…  maybe even “Da Bears!”…

Author: Craig Dunham – EDI Coordinator
Read more about Craig here:

so happy it’s thursday

Many years ago, My mom worked for Racal/Vadic…  they were (are?) a maker of modems and did a pretty brisk business…  As a matter of fact, we even had an old Racal box around here at work…  So even though she hasn’t worked for them for years and they never made much of a dent in the “home user” market – unlike Hayes and … what was that other brand? … Anyway, it was interesting to see – at least for Me – a Racal modem in use.

At the particular location she worked for – they did a 4-day work week.  Monday through Thursday, 40 hours a week, off on Friday and the rest of the weekend.  Now, mind you, this was in the late 70s and early 80s – not too long after a fairly famous – and campy – movie called “Thank God It’s Friday”.  A little disco-era flick starring Jeff Goldblum, Debra Winger, Donna Summer, The Commodores, and a few other faces from the Funk and Disco era of pop music.  Even a girl known as Terri Nunn – soon to become famous as a singer for the “alternative” – New Wave – group BERLIN – best known for the ballad “Take My Breath Away” from the Tom Cruise flick – Top Gun.  I think it may actually have been Jeff Goldblum’s first BIG role….

The movie gave rise to a quick and fun little acronym – TGIF – Thank God (goodness, whatever!) It’s Friday – meaning you had the weekend to go and have fun!  It was Friday night, you could go out to a disco and dance your stress away or drink yourself into a stupor or do whatever else it was you wanted to do on a fun and potentially fun Friday night.

Back to Racal/Vadic.  Since they only worked 4 days a week, their Thursday was a lot like everybody else’s Friday…  So they came up with a great concept – “Let’s get a slogan and put it on a shirt!”

So they did.

So Happy It’s Thursday.  S H I T …  Ooops!

Of course, it was known that the acronym would be … well … just that.  And it was a big joke and a great laugh for the manager that approved and had the shirts made and given out and sold to the employees…  Big letters down the front of the shirt:


Ah, yes.

OK, now the reason for this tale of fun with words…?  Well, it kind of goes back to My previous blog about TOOLS and using them, and how we can give people these great tools and show them the fantastic benefits of those tools, but if they don’t use them, we’re lost.

This morning, on My commute, I was annoyed…  And that is an understatement.  I was nearly hit by a woman with her cell phone to her ear.  Then there was the erratic driver – also with the cell phone pasted to their ear.  And then at least 3 more people with cell phones attached to their ears!  Yet, in that other blog, I’d talked about those wonderful tools – that Bluetooth or headset – and how those tools can make life so much better…  Easier…  Safer.

And now you’re asking yourself – what the heck is this guy going on and on and on about…?  What does a blog about TOOLS have to do with an acronym that sounds like a “dirty word”…?  What is it all about, Alfie…?

And I’ll tell you…  It’s all about making lives easier and better – through the use of TOOLS – and giving up the “old” and embracing the new.

These days, so many people still stick to the old way of doing things – kind of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” line of thought.  No need to make a better mousetrap, because the original works so well.  Everything old is new again.  Blah, blah, blah.

As you’ve maybe read in the past, I’ve been working on the 810 spec for our accounting department.  It’s been … a struggle … and I think I can finally see some light at the end of that tunnel.  Of course, it’s been interesting to see how some of the attitudes and concepts have changed in the accounting department; one of the first supporters of the concept has now turned into one of the hurdles and roadblocks we need to overcome.  This accounting manager was all gung-ho for the concept and yet now is throwing up new requests and changes to a report that has already been finalized.  Or at least HAD been finalized…

And then there’s the flip side – the accounting clerk that was happy with the “old way” of inputting invoices and didn’t want to change, but is now a major proponent of the NEW way.  “Oh, my job is so much easier now!” is a regular comment…

Then I can go back to the cell phone users I talked about earlier – they’re still clinging to the “old way” – having that little electronic box in their hand, at their ear, yakking away.  But it could be SO MUCH EASIER if they just did a headset.  The NEW way IS better.  And safer; and easier.

“But I don’t want to change!”

Same can be said of any new concept that comes along to make life better; easier; more efficient.  Over on the EDI-L Yahoo! group, one of the posters mentioned – or rather asked – if anybody had a kind of “EDI FOR DUMMIES” presentation or similar that she could use to explain the concepts of EDI to a sales director.  She was looking for a way to explain – what can be – a fairly technical concept to a completely non-technical person.  Something that could show the sales director what value existed in EDI.  But in his terms and in a way he could understand.

To the sales director, the concept is outside of his bubble – his sphere of knowledge and understanding.  And it’s not really something he’s interested in.  And the only reason he’s probably asking about it is because some possible new client is asking about it.  And he wants to look smart and with-it and in-the-loop and not appear to be a dolt.

And it’s something new and different.  At least it is to him.

The concept of the 4 day work-week is “new and different”, too.  Or at least, it was.  But it was shown to have a benefit.  And it worked.  And it made people’s lives better.  Telecommuting is “new and different” to some people’s ways of thinking, too.  But it can make things better and easier. 

Think of all of the things that have changed in just the past – 10 years?  20 years?  Think of where we were before the advent of the cell phone; before DSL; before iPod.  We did things the “old way”.  We used pay phones, we walked next door to talk to a neighbor; we used dial up or didn’t even have “the Net”.  We read books, listened to portable radios, bought CDs.

Things HAVE changed.  In many ways, things HAVE gotten better.  But things have also gotten more complex and not always easier.  We’ve advanced as a society and as a world with some of our technologies and our changes.

All that it took was a brave soul (or two or two-thousand!) to make and accept the change and go with it; to use those tools and to better their lives.  To understand what benefits could be had by using the 4-day workweek, the telecommuting, by using EDI.

And sure, there have been some … pitfalls … with those advances.  People’s attention spans seem shorter; driving can be more dangerous; EDI communications can fail.  Some of those advances can seem to have made us take a step back; or at least a step on a wrong track or in a seemingly wrong direction.  But if we stay that course – follow through, use those tools and keep looking to the future and watching out for those pitfalls – imagine what can happen.

Shi…  Um… I mean So Happy It’s Thursday.  At least the weekend is almost here.

Author: Craig Dunham – EDI Coordinator
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