ID? We don’t need no stinkin’ ID!

Over on the EDI-L Yahoo group, a poster was talking (ranting?) about some issues they were having with possibly having to change their client’s EDI ISA/GS IDs and all the “trouble”(?) that would cause.  It was a long and convoluted tale about Company A selling a division (that did orders via EDI) to Company B and maintaining that EDI connectivity and activity – using the same ISA/GS qualifier and ID – and something about another division of Company B now going EDI and what ID and . . . well, it was very confusing to read and is still a bit muddled in My head, so maybe go and read it for yourself, here.  Oh, BTW, the ID in question was the DUNS+ ID – where you use your DUNS number and add some number to it.  I don’t know about that, as we use a phone number for our EDI ID.

Company B has also purchased other “divisions” over the years – some EDI, and I guess, some not.  And now some of these divisions may be trading with a whole new set of clients – and maybe even some of the same? – as the original division acquired oh-so-long-ago from Company A.

But I had replied to the original post with the concept that, “way back when” (the poster mentioned that this has been going on for over 10 years!), Company B should have created a NEW ISA/GS qualifier and ID set up for Company B and not continued to use Company A’s ID for so long, even if Company A was not doing any EDI.  It even becomes more of a situation because the ID being used IS, in fact, the DUNS number of Company A being used by Company B, which, presumably, has their OWN DUNS number.  Do you follow?

Anyway, all those years ago, Company B should have changed all of their IDs and alerted ALL of their trading partners to the fact that the ID was changing.  If they had done this, then our poster would have not had any issues right now with their trading partners – new, existing, old, future.  It would be SO much easier now.

The poster also questioned about the “meaning” or the “use” of the ISA/GS qualifier and ID and how it should only be (is?) used to signify a mailbox being used for EDI.

One of the other things that truly captured My attention was when the poster mentioned that “acquisitions and mergers happen every day” and questioned “Do companies really change their EDI ISA and GS IDs every time something about their company changes?”.  And this is something I see on a semi-regular basis.

Going back to the original concept – Company A sells out (a division or a product line or the entire company!) to Company B.  Both are EDI capable.  What does Company B do with Company A’s IDs..?  How do they “merge” the two (or more?) EDI systems and mailboxes together..?  How do they reconcile all of this data being pushed and pulled..?

And the answer goes back to the concepts of “what is a trading partner relationship” – in that they need to work with their existing trading partners to find the best answer.  But even that will rely upon how Company B plans on merging and integrating the Company A products and EDI systems into their own existing product line and EDI systems.  Does Company B want to keep Company A “semi-autonomous” and keep them segregated?  or does Company B want to completely absorb Company A’s products and systems?

If they want to keep it separate, then all they need to do is – well – nothing.  Just alert the trading partners to the new ownership and how the EDI set-up and communications will not change.  Or how they will change (maybe Company B uses Inovis and Company A was a GXS customer), so that the trading partners can make the necessary changes and take the necessary steps to implement those changes.  But they need to communicate with those trading partners the changes that are to come.

If, however, Company B is going to absorb all aspects of Company A and merge them all together, then they will need to alert all of their Trading Partners of that, so that the TPs can make those set-up changes in their systems – pointing this vendor number to this other vendor number’s ISA/GS address and set-up in their own EDI system and with their networks/VANs.

I see this a lot in My daily EDI life.  I work for a major retailer and it is common for bigger companies to acquire smaller companies.  I’ve got one of those situations happening right now.  It’s also common for a big company – which we buy from directly – to also have other companies producing “their” product through licensing of their names and/or logos.  Not every item you buy with the Nike or Adidas or Reebok logo actually COMES from Nike, Adidas or Reebok.  And then there is also the “overstock” production and items that the big companies sell off to other vendors (close-outs) that I may also buy from.  But the point is, that ISA/GS qualifiers and IDs change frequently for some vendors and suppliers.

One last thing that the poster questioned was if a company that uses, say, their telephone number as their EDI ISA/GS ID, should they change their ID every time their Area Code changes..?  And the answer to that, in My opinion, is NO.  Because they’ve been using an established ID – one that has VERIFIABLE TIES to their history – for years.  And it’s still their “property”.  True, it could be possible that another company may suddenly get that “old” phone number as their own with the change of an area code, but the ISA/GS ID still is “owned” by the original company.  It’s all about ownership.

Tying this back to the original question about the use of the DUNS+4 ID, what if Company A – all the way back up there ^^^ – was still doing EDI with other divisions AND still using their DUNS+4 ID?  Well then, Copmany B would NEVER have been able to continue using that ID for the division they acquired.  They would have had to have created a NEW ISA/GS ID right then and there.  Think of the confusion that would occur if Company A and Company B were both sending orders (or supplying product!) to the same vendors..!  Suddenly, I’m sending an order for Widgets from Company A, but it’s going to Company B – just because they have the same ISA/GS ID..!

In a way, think about your ISA/GS as an e-mail address.  I’ve had one of My e-mail addresses for – oh, well over 20 years now.  Now, if I was to deactivate that e-mail address, and in, say, 6 months, somebody ELSE was to acquire it, think of all the e-mails that they MAY get that were originally intended for Me..?  Same thing could go for a telephone number or even a PO Box or other mailing address..!  Think of when you buy or move into an existing house (condo, apartment, whatever!) and you get mail that is addressed to the previous recipient.  Well, you look at the address, see that it’s not for you, and you cross out the address, write “MOVED!” across the front and stick it back in the mailbox.  The post office then will do whatever they need to do with it.

The trouble with that in the EDI world, however, is that you never “look” at that printed address.  You don’t really see the order that is coming in to your system.  EDI is not an “eyes on” or “hands on” kind of business practice.  It’s system automated.  And the system is looking at values.  And the system will only kick out a value if it doesn’t match.  So, in My example above of Company A and Company B using the same ISA/GS qualifier and ID and sending orders to the same vendor/supplier, the EDI system is going to look at that ID and process the order – and isn’t truly going to know whether that order is for A or B – unless you have it doing a match on other data – such as a sold to, ship to, bill to or other such TP specific information – and the error will not get caught until the order is being picked and packed and shipped.  Or, worse yet, it may not even get caught until the order HAS shipped and Company A calls you up and asks “why did you send this stuff to us?  We didn’t order it!” or Company B calls you up and asks “hey!  where’s our order?”..!

The point to ALL of this is that the ID in question should remain with the company that originated that ID!  If I set-up an ID of ZZ/CEDEDITEST, then I should keep that ID with Me until such time that I’m no longer using it and cancel that ID and get rid of it.  It is MY qualifer and ID set-up and should remain MY qualifier and ID set-up for as long as I want it.  And if the ID is definitely company specific – as a DUNS number is – then you bet your sweet aunt’s patootie that I’m not going to get rid of that ID becuase it still relates back to and points to Me and My company!

I may be sounding greedy here, but that ID is MINE!

Author: Craig Dunham – EDI Coordinator
Read more about Craig here: http://editalk.com/contributors/

EDI, TPR and what it all means….

In another online source for EDI bits of information, a question was posed about how to interpret a particular segment of a particular document and how the quantities were expressed – it was an 860 – Buyer Initiated PO Change – and how the question poster should interpret it….

Most of the responses to the post all suggested that he copy and post all of the segments and data from the document… others tried to guess at what the sender was requesting…. Then there was a lone voice that asked “ask the sender”… and I agreed.

One of the things that I’ve noticed in My years of EDI – both online – with groups and boards and discussion groups – and off – with My trading partners and vendors – is that most people tend to fall into one of two groups – Communication or No Communication. Some people seem to think that, with the advent of EDI communication, that we no longer need to communicate with our partners with “other” forms of communications – the phone call, e-mail, etc..

Sometimes it seems like people – EDI people – seem to forget what the P in TPR – Trading PARTNER Relationship – means.

PARTNER

In any kind of PARTNERSHIP – be it romantic, economic, business, school project, whatever – if you forget that you’re PARTNERS in the issue, then the relationship falls apart. And this ties in with another aspect of the Trading Partner Relationship – the RELATIONSHIP…..

There is a RELATION between the partners involved. I send out a PO to company A for product. They receive that PO and fill My order – maybe even generating their own POs for the “ingredients” to the product I’ve ordered – allowing them to sell off product (or, as mentioned, manufacture it) and makes money for them and keeps them in business. By receiving their products and selling it (I’m in the retail industry), it allow Me to make money and stay in business…. We benefit each other and help each other along.

But by sending those documents and transactions via EDI, it’s not eliminating the need to communicate – to have relations – between us – but it’s just another tool to help us in better communications and bettering our relationships….

What’s the slogan that Home Depot (or was it Lowes?) used to use:

“You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers.”… or something like that…?

I say the same thing – if you have questions regarding a document I send you via EDI, please, ask…. I’ll see what I can do to find out the answer for you….

The other day, I got a call from one of our vendors – one of My trading partners – about a PO that they received via EDI and how a faxed revision – we can’t send revisions via EDI because of our internal systems – had a lower quantity. The vendor had created the shipment and sent the ASN from the original PO, but with the revised quantities, as the revision (via fax) had shown. But he had a question about what to do about the PO that was still in his system (he uses a web-based EDI solution) because his EDI system will still show the order as OPEN (based upon the original vs. shipped quantities) and what do to….

In his situation, I suggested he call the EDI provider and find out how to “close” the PO with the partial shipment. But, what he did, though, was CALL Me and ask Me questions about the order. He called the TRADING PARTNER and asked what he should do. And that’s what we all need to remember to do – COMMUNICATE with our Partners…

Without our partners, we fail.

Author: Craig Dunham – EDI Coordinator
Read more about Craig here: http://editalk.com/contributors/