In some recent readings on other websites – geez, you’d wonder if I actually have a job with all the reading and blogging I do – there have been recent posts, blogs, commends, entries and more, about how it seems like the old adage about the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing is still alive and well and with us today – no life support needed…
Over on the EDI-L board, one of our own forum members, Earl, was discussing – well – venting – about his current client and some issues with testing through one of those 3rd party EDI providers (won’t mention any names!)… But if you read it, you know. Anyway, part of this goes back to the trading partner of his client – we’ll call them ABC COMPANY, INC…. So, in good faith and in following with the concepts of implementation, Earl’s been working to complete the testing for his client to trade with ABC Company. Now it turns out that the division at ABC Company that they’ve been testing for has been sold off to another company – XYZ, LLC. And now testing is no longer needed.
Forget about the costs that the client has encountered in testing with the EDI provider. Forget about the costs that have been incurred in paying for Earl and his services… Forget about all the OTHER trading partners (like Earl’s client) that have also been testing… And let’s not forget that mergers and acquisitions don’t happen overnight in the world of big business.
How does this relate? Well, if the EDI department at ABC had KNOWN that this division was to be sold off, why where they so hot-n-heavy about testing and compliance…? Why was ABC forcing all these possible trading partners – remember, the tale was from Earl – through this fairly expensive testing program…? And, from what I’ve heard – this provider does have one of the most expensive testing programs out there. But still, why was the EDI group forcing the testing when the division was in the process of being sold and testing would no longer be needed until XYZ, LLC, takes over and decides what THEY want to do…
It’s a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.
On another site, a blogger was commenting on the differences between the “sides” of EDI – the Technical vs. the Business. In other words, how, in days gone by, an EDI Coordinator – or manager or whatever – needed to grasp both the Technical side of EDI – how to format the data and make it get to the trading partner – and the Businessside of EDI – understanding how the different groups or departments would be using the data… They had to attend business meetings with those departments to find out how the data was going to be used – in or outbound.
These days, our blogger contends, with the plethora of outsourcing of EDI functions, it seems that one side of the equation isn’t being met. The technical aspect is being taken care of by the EDI outsourced provider, but the Business side of the equation is now being handled by … who? Obviously, somebody at the company is handling it – but who? An accounting clerk? A buying clerk? Some secretary..? Or how about a shipping or warehouse manager or clerk? There’s a point in there about the disconnect.
It’s a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.
Another blogger on that same site talks about the “800 lb gorilla” in EDI – generally, the “hub” or, in My case, the retailer, that’s calling the shots. I’ve talked about that gorilla before. But this blogger talked about how the company, a retailer, was requiring a specific EDI document – the 846 – and how they (the supplier – the company our blogger was working with/for) was getting hit with a ton of chargebacks because one data element was wrong. We’re then told of the trials and tribulations – and 3 week timeframe – of trying to solve the issue and complete testing the fix.
What I don’t understand, however, was how the error was missed during the initial testing for the document to begin with. But I’m digressing.
Turns out that our blogger finds a phone number (after hunting and searching through the wilderness of the hub) and gets in contact with an overseas (outsourcing!) “tech support” – and the 1st level support has no idea about what EDI is. They finally get in contact with 2nd level support (which has some rudimentary EDI concepts and knowledge – and they’re given the contact information for the EDI testing coordinator. They call this other person – only to find out that he/she is out of the office for “a few days”… Now they are weeks into trying to get this resolved – and the supplier is STILL receiving and paying these chargebacks for a wrong format for a data element.
A case of the right hand and the left hand, not knowing what the other is doing.
Even in non-EDI concepts this can be true. My own company is building some new offices… Or, rather, they’re tearing some out to build more. But instead of – oh, I don’t know – scheduling the work for times when there would be a limited number of people around, it’s happening right now. And a major connecting hallway is closed off for a few hours. Which means that the employees need to go outside, through one door, come back in through another, only to bypass this hallway that has the work being done.
Or the issue of printers – taking them down for repairs or maintenance – or even changing printer servers – and not letting anybody know. Instead, an employee prints out some important document – an e-mail, a 200 page report his boss needs, something – only to find that the printer he was printing too is no longer online and is now installed on a different server. Now he’s got to go back and re-create that report or e-mail and print to the new printer – only after, of course, it’s been mapped to be used by his system…
More cases of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.
We can see this concept in everyday living, too, just by reading/watching/hearing the news or driving down the road, or shopping in a store and more. We can see many times when somebody doesn’t know what somebody else is doing… Or how, through somebody’s in-action – lack of action – causes somebody else to have problems and negative impacts abound. Somebody forgets to clean up a spilled soda and somebody else slips and falls… Somebody is yakking on a cell phone and doesn’t realize the light is red and slams into somebody else…
All cases of not knowing what’s being done by the other.
How can we help to solve these issues? Maybe by communication? Maybe by sending messages to each other – right hand to left hand – letting somebody know what somebody else is doing. Maybe by paying attention to what’s going on, as well. Taking some of that responsibility of knowing what that somebody is doing – or observing that situation – and not blindly walking (driving) into that situation…
Maybe, in Earl’s case, it could have helped if he’d been reading the news about ABC Company and read that they were selling that division to XYZ, LLC…. That might have helped him…. Maybe if our blogger’s companies were paying more attention to the concepts of Business and Technical sides of the argument, or were making sure that they were not using a wrong format – maybe that could have helped them?
Sometimes, in life, we have to think outside of the box – think outside the bubble we’re in – and realize that there are others out there and we may have to interact with them outside of the scope of our box or bubble… We have to take off the blinders of a project and look at the broader impact of our actions – or reactions – and how they’re going to affect what’s going on.
If our left hand is wildly wielding a hammer, it’s probably a good idea for the right hand to pay attention to the path of that hammer and stay out of the way – lest the right hand gets a smashed thumb…Author: Craig Dunham – EDI Coordinator Read more about Craig here: http://editalk.com/contributors/