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:




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.


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: