What do you need to get started with EDI?

What do you need to get started with EDI?

EDI stands for Electronic Data Interchange. It can make life so much easier for large businesses that need to pile through hundreds of pages of reports, invoices and data. Sounds great—but what does your business need to get started with EDI?

Getting Started With EDI

Commport Communications EDI Solutions

First of all, determine the volume of paper transactions your company processes—this will help you determine how you will benefit from implementing an EDI solution.

If you have multiple documents that need attention from several agents throughout your process, and there is a large amount of data entry and document management required, then a streamlined EDI solution is for you.

The Origins of EDI

Commport Communications Origins of EDI

EDI got its start in the automotive industry, and was lauded for its security and success. Now it has permeated into other various industries, such as utilities and Health care.

Now that EDI has become more widely adopted, many of the benefits have been built and improved upon.

EDI Integration

Commport Communications EDI Integration

So what do you need to get started? First of all, lay out your process for handling documents from one side of the chain to the next. What is the process? Does it require a great amount of manual intervention? Think of how many places in the process where a human agent is necessary to move the process to the next stage.

Step 1: How much variation exists between documents

Think about how much variation exists between documents. Consider that with an EDI solution, there should be seamless migration from one system to another. The less human intervention required, the better the system will perform.


Step2: identify your internal network

Next, identify your internal network. What are you currently using to move your processes forward? How would you benefit from having an EDI solution in place? What would it replace? Have you considered the time and energy considerations for implementing an EDI solution?

Step3: Plan out your workflow

Once your documents have been brought to a certain level, how are they to be passed to the next stage?

Once you have identified these steps, you will be that much more prepared to integrate an EDI solution to manage a lot of the legwork currently going into your document tracking and submitting process.

Step4: Type of infrastructure you need

What type of infrastructure do you need to have in place? The great thing about modern EDI solutions (Commport offers several solutions, including EDI software solutions like CyberLiNK) you do not have to have more than an Internet connection and the proper software installed to make use of the many advantages of EDI.

The nature of Commport’s solutions is to apply optimum security right out of the gate, so you don’t even have to think about it.

Know Your Goals With EDI

Know Your Goals with EDI - Commport Communications

The main thing to consider is that you identify the goal and purpose for integrating the EDI solution. Once you have that, integrating the physical system is made easy with Commport’s Integrated EDI solutions.

So really, all you need to ensure you are prepared for EDI is a requirement to save time and money in your document creating, compiling and submitting process.

Consider also that Commport has EDI Outsourcing solutions in place for you, so there’s no hassle involved in making Commport part of your document handling and processing solution. Contact us for more information today!

Who Uses EDI?

Who Uses EDI?

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) refers to the process of exchanging information electronically. In many cases, it saves thousands of hours (and countless dollars) for businesses with scores of documents to complete and file.

Who uses EDI:

Here is the answer to the question who uses EDI? EDI has been used in the past primarily by automotive and retail businesses, however in the past few years, the format has been more widely adopted. Manufacturing, healthcare, pharmaceutical, utility and construction companies are good examples of EDI clients.

The Benefits of Commport's EDI

The Benefits of EDI

Basically, any type of business that deals with large amounts of identical paperwork/form data can directly benefit from adopting an EDI solution. The benefits over using a paper system are clear:

  • immense savings in time
  • significant cost savings
  • reduced drain on resources overall
  • reduced error rates in data transfer (we almost want to say 'eliminate' here!)
  • improved security of data being transferred
  • reliability - you can have confidence that data is reaching its destination

Plus, with electronic transfer of data, the likelihood of typographical errors decreases, as does the increase in time having to verify orders that have been filled out by someone with poor handwriting. It all adds up.

Security of information is critical. The adoption of EDI infrastructure is also largely due to the convenience and the security of EDI. EDI used over a VAN (Value Added Network) is an even more secure way to ensure the data is reaching its destination and is being managed properly.

A retailer attempting to implement a “just-in-time” inventory philosophy (that is, cutting down on overstocked inventory and replacing inventory in demand) would do well to implement an EDI solution.

Click for more EDI Resources

Ready to find out more about commport's EDI?

Drop us a email today at sales@commport.com for a free demo! You can also call us at  905-727-6782

What is Community Enablement?

What is Community Enablement?

From an ecommerce perspective, Community Enablement is a recognition that in order for a supply chain to be improved through the use of technologies such as EDI and GDSN, there must be a defined program for participants to follow and that the large majority of participants in the supply chain must be on board with the program.

Most programs leverage standardization as their first goal. Logic and practice dictate that if an organization can standardize its processes, data requirements and ways of doing business, they are in a better position to focus on driving their business forward, rather than expending energy and resources trying to remember or manage the intricacies of each relationship.

The use of both EDI and Global Data Synchronization is a terrific starting point in terms of technology. Over the years centralized organizations known as Standards Bodies have worked with industry to develop data standards to support standardized usage and interpretations. For EDI here in North America, the prevalent Standards Body is a group known as American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Committee X12 – lending their name to the EDI data standard ANSI X12. For Global Data Synchronization the Global Standards Body is known as GS1.

What is Community Enablement - Commport Communications

One important distinction that needs to be made is that the standards body creates data standards in consultation with all potential users and industries. This means that the data standards are usually much larger in scope than any one supply chain or organization requires. As a result, subsets also known as implementations or implementation guides are created to express how an individual supply chain or organization will leverage the standards for their own use..

From an implementation perspective, communities can be best visually thought about as gears in a machine. In this concept each organization is its own cogwheel with its trading partners; suppliers, customers, warehouses, brokers and distributors; all cogs. When the cogwheel turns and all the cogs turn with it, everything in the machine functions at its best… however, if one of the cogs is missing or is not the right size, the efficient workings of the entire machine are at risk.

In my analogy, the program (EDI or data sync) is the design of the ideal machine. The cogwheel is the organization for whom the program was designed; while the individual cogs represent the partners that need to be shaped to fit into the machine in order for the whole thing to function. This is where Community Enablement comes in.

Community Enablement works within the framework of the program to help each of the cogs to understand the program and how they fit into it and then to provide solutions and support that enable them to do so.

The services that are provided as a part of a Community Enablement program include (but are not limited to): project management, initial and follow up contact, data collection, education/training, testing, implementation and reporting.

As I said when I wrote my Linkedin profile “Every organization plays a part of their own supply chain communities. In order to realize the full benefits of data integration services, communities need to adopt the technology en masse so that each member of the community can achieve the potential benefits.” Any organization that has a need to improve how their machine is working for them can benefit from a Community Enablement approach.

Ready to find out more?

Drop us a line today for a free quote!

Commport Expands Content Services and Technology Portfolio to Help Healthcare Providers Reduce Costs, Improve Efficiencies


Commport Communications International, Inc. announced today that it has reached an agreement with Prodigo Solutions to become the licensed reseller of its Healthcare Marketplace and related technologies in Canada.

Commport and Prodigo Solutions Agreement

Prodigo Solutions is a healthcare transformation company that improves provider financial control and reduces supply chain costs through pay for performance solutions made possible by people, process and technology. Prodigo Solutions’ savings technology has been developed by healthcare supply chain experts to deliver tangible results across a continuum of care.

Commport, already a leader in the Healthcare solutions market by providing digital solutions to reduce costs and improve efficiencies, such as EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and GDSN services, is excited about adding additional content services to its portfolio.  The Prodigo Solutions Marketplace provides a cloud based entry point for Healthcare Providers, large and small, individual and groups to move quickly to the efficient frontier of supply chain management.

“A recent review of Healthcare Providers and their Suppliers across Canada showed that an unsustainable number of purchase orders from the Providers contain errors,” stated Dave Ralph, President of Commport, “errors are a costly issue for any organization to manage and in healthcare they also introduce potential patient safety risks.”

Suppliers across the country suggest that error rates are as high as 60% in some situations and   that the majority of the errors are related to inaccurate or out of date product information.  Errors of this nature in an automated system can inflate the order processing costs of both parties combined by as much as 10,000% due to the manual investigative follow up required.
One provincial Health group estimates overall savings of several hundreds of millions of dollars is possible by implementing a better procurement process, based upon high quality, accurate product data and other content controls such as the Prodigo Healthcare Marketplace.

“The GDSN is the only single true-source of product data and only the GDSN can provide global continuously cleansed data in a timely and accurate manner,” added Mr. Ralph, “with a very high percentage of Healthcare products coming from other countries, a global reach is extremely important.”  As a GDSN certified data pool, Commport is uniquely positioned to tie product information, buying processes and data carriage services into a single package for healthcare supply chain management in Canada.

“Helping healthcare providers identify and drive substantial supply chain cost savings is our sole focus at Prodigo Solutions. By partnering with Commport as a Reseller, we can extend our value proposition to Canadian providers,” said Michael DeLuca, executive vice president of Technology and Client Services at Prodigo Solutions, Inc. “We chose to expand our business with a partner like Commport because the company not only understands the Canadian healthcare system well, but also has deep relationships within the provincial health authorities and at the hospital level.”

Commport plans an aggressive promotional effort to ensure that all Healthcare Providers have an opportunity to investigate this leading edge technology.

About Prodigo
Prodigo Solutions is a healthcare supply chain focused company helping providers gain control of supply chain spend through contract compliance and automation.  Powered by a proven, cloud-based technology, Prodigo’s suite of solutions delivers cost savings to leading U.S. health systems, including 4 of the top 15 US News & World Report Honor Roll hospitals. For more information, visit ProdigoSolutions.com.


See the Press Release here

Data Issues and the Failure of Target Canada

The Target Canada story

Target Canada

As a Commport professional, I have always maintained that EDI is not really an IT function, rather it is a business function.  Doing B2B EDI and/or Global Data Synch effectively, means leveraging technology and international standards to efficiently reflect an organization’s business processes and intellectual property related to organizational data.

Throughout my life I have been exposed to many business and economic trends and opportunities as well as the ensuing successes and failures.  I have to admit that almost nothing makes me more excited than ramping up for that next big, business opportunity… That is unless it fails… and then the failure becomes even more interesting.  When flawed processes meet business failures, I am captivated.

As a consumer, I lamented the shuttering of my local Zellers store.  I waited and watched for months as the excitement of Target coming to Canada built and as I desperately tried to sneak peeks through the paper covered doors as they renovated.  I had shopped at Target stores in the U.S. so, like many Canadians, I eagerly awaited the hyped up new Canadian retail option.

And then I went to work. 

In my professional life the Target Canada experience was something else.  At the beginning Target Canada so thoroughly committed to the use of EDI with its vendors that it would only source product from vendors that already had EDI capabilities and experience.  Vendors were led through a process to prove their capabilities and incurred configuration costs to do so.  They weighed the fees against the promised opportunity of the anticipated success of Target Canada and took the plunge.  In the end, a number of the vendors I worked with entered into this process and incurred the costs, only to receive confirmation part way through that they wouldn’t be selected as a supplier to Target.

Those that were selected were identified and began receiving orders.  After all the systems set up and testing were performed and even after the first set of orders, suppliers to Target Canada were subjected to seemingly constant uncommunicated system changes that would only be discovered after transactions were exchanged.  By then it was too late to update the system at Target Canada, so the supplier was locked into working in “as-is” conditions with the data on hand.

Without getting too deep into the technical details, a retailer’s business system is the life blood of the organization.  It supports the business processes and supports the operations.  If the data contained within the systems is wrong, for any reason, the results can be disastrous, especially when the users have been trained to rely on the system.  Based on my experience, this explains a lot of what went wrong at Target Canada.

In May 2014 Reuters published the article Exclusive: Target Canada’s supply chain gridlock: how Barbie SUVs snarled traffic in which the authors talk about mismatches between expected quantities and actual received quantities and about problems with barcodes not matching what was in the computer system.  They mention a source who reports “As goods arrived at the warehouses, workers found errors, 12 shirts per box when the computer system expected 24”.

In those early Target Canada days I remember working with suppliers who received orders where the quantities being requested by Target didn’t match the physical reality of the product configurations.  The vendors I worked with would contact Target and warn of the issues only to be told that what was in the system is what they intended to order, so the vendor must be incorrect.  Or worse, when push came to shove after repeated attempts to submit EDI shipping notifications, some suppliers were told to fudge their data so that it matched what was in the Target systems and then ship the product and that it would be dealt with at the warehouse.  Invalid quantities combined with unresolvable barcodes are a recipe for a disaster in any warehouse that is intended to utilize mostly automated receiving, with far reaching implications for the rest of the supply chain. The bottom line is that inventory that doesn’t move through the warehouse efficiently, isn’t available to the store to be stocked, causing customers to be met with empty shelves and ultimately a disappointing shopping experience.

To me, these two contributing factors speak loudly to a significant mismanagement of the product catalogue data within the Target Canada systems.  There are a number of root causes and potential approaches to fix these issues and I expect that the root causes will continue to be examined for years to come.

As for fixing the problems, well it seems, that just won’t be necessary.