Total Cost of Ownership and Cloud EDI

If you are using a Cloud EDI solution you should consider your total costs of ownership. All the direct and indirect costs might be adding up and it may be time to consider moving to an integrated solution.

Cloud EDI Solution - Total Cost of Ownership

Like many businesses you probably faced the requirement to do EDI with one of your customers at some point.  At the time you were probably looking for a “cheap and cheerful” solution with low-up front setup costs and minimal on-going rates to keep the total costs of doing business with that customer as low as possible.  Makes sense.  If this sounds familiar, you probably went with an on-line or ‘Cloud EDI’ solution.  Using a Cloud EDI system, you login to a web application to retrieve your orders, create shipment notices, key in invoices, print reports and trade any other documents your customer has asked for.

In talking to our customers we have found that businesses often make this choice initially and then never revisit it.  Who’s got the time look into such a small thing and “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”, right? If you look a little closer at it you will probably find that over time your business with that first EDI customer has grown.  You’re receiving many more orders than you originally were, you’re invoicing them regularly, and maybe you’ve even had other customers start up with EDI.  If so, it’s probably time to start thinking about the ‘total cost of ownership’ for the solution you are using.


What is “Total Cost of Ownership”?

Cloud EDI Solution Costs - Commport Communcations

It’s an accounting concept that looks at all of the direct and indirect costs of a product or system.  For a Cloud EDI solution, direct costs would include a monthly account or access fee, any transaction charges, support fees, etc.  All of those line items that show up on your monthly bill.  Indirect costs are everything else that costs you time and/or money to use and support the system.  That means all of the time spent logging into a web application, printing out orders, building the shipment document and creating the invoices.  Plus any time your staff spends on the phone or emailing the provider to resolve issues as well as any time spent dealing with rejections from your customer or missing transactions.

When you start accounting for all of those things, the expense and related pain of what was once a “cheap and cheerful” solution can really start adding up.  For most businesses in this situation, ‘doing EDI’ results in a replication of work which further compounds the costs.  You already have an accounting system or an order management system that you have to deal with in order to manage your internal supply chain procedures.  So now you’re not just processing an order once, but twice.  You’re not creating an invoice once, but twice.  More than just a waste of time, this increases the chance of human error, and creates the need to reconcile and manage the two systems.

With one customer on EDI and only a handful of orders, these indirect costs aren’t significant.  As your business grows these costs start to impact your bottom line.  They also distract from business development activities.

Is there a better way to do EDI?

There is.  You see, EDI was designed as a common language between machines.  Its supposed to be automated so that one system can talk directly with another.  For example, your customer's ERP talking to your accounting or order management system (or both), without any human intervention.   That means it’s not supposed to be you, or your staff, logging into a Cloud EDI system to print out your orders or create your invoices.

In a better system, your orders come in and are fed directly into your business system.  No printing it, no keying it in, they are just there!  There is a lower risk of human error, faster processing speeds, and fewer delays.  You are  afforded the convenience of creating the shipment information  and invoices that should be sent out to your customer without needing to separately create the EDI documents.

How would that work?

With an integrated solution.  An integrated solution will feed orders directly into your system, whatever that system may be.   Ensuring you’ve got all of the details you need to fulfill and ship that order.  It will take a copy of your shipment details and convert it into the EDI documents that your customer wants.  It will do the same with your invoices.  The reports you need will be delivered to you automatically via email or in another format, so that you don’t need to go find it.

Going Integrated will give you the tools you need to track your documents in real time and access to reports that will help you reconcile your documents as well without the need to rely on your EDI provider or customers for verification. Simple and easy right?

It will cut out all the duplication of work that a Could EDI solution creates.  This means it will bring down the total cost of ownership and free up time so you can get back to focusing on your business.


Advancing Healthcare in Ontario

GS1 Global Healthcare Conference - Standards

Advancing Healthcare in Ontario,

Within hours of receiving the Expert Panel Report, Commport made a public statement of support for the proposals put forward. >> Read it here!

Commport did make a presentation to the Expert Panel as part of their complete market-wide interview process, and the suggestions we presented were well received by the Panel.

The Report recommendations closely follow those that Commport has made directly to you as a valued customer in the Healthcare market. Primarily, they revolve around the need to employ more retail-styled approaches to the Supply Chain, specifically, the need to eliminate paper and use EDI for 100% of purchasing activity.

EDI significantly reduces costs and, just as importantly, provides detailed data which can be used in enlightening Business Analytics.

Commport is a growing Ontario-based company and a key contributor to the province's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) cluster. Commport was started in 1985 by Dave Ralph and currently supports over 50 direct jobs in Aurora. Today the company is partnered with 75 Ontario hospitals, other sub-national North American governments, crown corporations, large and small retailers, and thousands of their suppliers

Let’s work together to prepare for the New Model of Optimized Healthcare Supply Chains.

  • Click the link below to download the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care's Panel submitted report

Advancing Healthcare in Ontario: Optimizing the Healthcare Supply Chain - A New Model


Why Do You Need an EDI Solution?

Why Do You Need an EDI Solution?

Consider the hundreds of pages you have to create and pile through every day in order to run your business. Consider all of the time it takes to interface all of these documents with other businesses and systems in order to keep moving forward. Are you as efficient as you need to be to succeed?

Why-Do-You-Need-an-EDI-Solution - Commport Communications

Why Do You Need EDI?

Why Do You Need an EDI Solution - Commport Communications

To answer the question of why you need an EDI solution, first you may want to ask yourself how much time and money you are spending on your current manual paper process. If the calculation of time and expense justifies the investment for migrating to an EDI solution, then it’s something you need to strongly consider.

Feel free to contact us to determine whether an EDI solution is right for you. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about our process, migrating systems, or EDI solutions in general.

Manage Data with EDI

Manage Data with EDI - Commport Communications

EDI solutions (Electronic Data Interchange) are designed to help you manage this massive amount of paperwork. The considerations for savings in time, potential errors from mistyped or incorrectly logged information, not to mention the impact on the environment—all of these are important considerations when you’re looking into an Edi solution for your business.

If your business model is based on having a series of processes that are labour intensive—yet completely necessary—in regards to a huge amount of work required to keep things running, then you will want to consider an EDI solution.

Manage Hundreds of Pages

Manage Hundreds of Pages With EDI - Commport Communications

One of the major benefits to an EDI solution is the automation of otherwise manual process of managing hundreds of pages of paperwork and documentation that would otherwise be done by a human agent. There is a great deal of work that goes into creating the documentation and pushing it through to the next stage, not to mention managing that documentation at the various links throughout the process. At every stage, there is the potential for errors, and these errors all limit your productivity and present potential cost.

If your business relies on paper documentation and needs to process hundreds of similar paper orders daily, an EDI system can save you considerable time and money. The other consideration is the savings in time by being able to take multiple steps out of your process. 

There are various levels of EDI system integration; the system van be customized on the basis of how your company operates. It can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be.

Commport’s Integrated EDI solution can be scaled up or down depending on your needs. We have developed solutions for companies in various industries, including healthcare.

Lets dive into some more reasons on why your business needs an EDI solution and explore relevant examples of how it can revolutionize your operations.

  1. Streamlined Supply Chain Management
  2. Cost and Time Savings
  3. Enhanced Accuracy and Data Integrity
  4. Compliance with Trading Partner Requirements
  5. Scalability and Adaptability

1. Streamlined Supply Chain Management

Implementing an EDI solution allows for seamless communication and collaboration with your trading partners, enhancing supply chain management processes. For example, in the retail industry, an EDI solution enables retailers to automate order processing, receive accurate and real-time inventory updates, and streamline shipment notifications. This leads to improved inventory management, reduced order fulfillment cycles, and increased customer satisfaction.

Example: A clothing retailer receives a purchase order from a major department store via EDI. The EDI solution automatically updates the retailer’s inventory system, initiates the order fulfillment process, and generates an electronic shipping notice. This eliminates manual data entry, reduces errors, and ensures timely delivery, resulting in improved efficiency and customer experience.

2. Cost and Time Savings

EDI solutions help businesses eliminate manual processes, paper-based documentation, and manual data entry, leading to significant cost and time savings. By automating data exchange, organizations can reduce errors, mitigate the risk of lost documents, and accelerate transaction cycles.

Example: In the healthcare industry, an EDI solution enables healthcare providers to electronically submit insurance claims to payers. This eliminates the need for paper forms, reduces claim processing time, minimizes errors, and accelerates reimbursement cycles. As a result, healthcare providers can improve cash flow, reduce administrative costs, and focus more on patient care.

3. Enhanced Accuracy and Data Integrity:

Manual data entry is prone to errors, leading to costly mistakes and inefficiencies. An EDI solution ensures accuracy and data integrity by eliminating human errors and standardizing data formats. It enables the automatic validation and verification of data, ensuring that only accurate and complete information is exchanged.

Example: In the manufacturing industry, an automotive parts supplier utilizes EDI to exchange production schedules with their customers. The EDI solution validates the received schedule against predefined criteria, ensuring that the order quantities, delivery dates, and product specifications are correct. By eliminating errors in scheduling, the supplier can optimize production planning, reduce inventory costs, and enhance customer satisfaction.

4. Compliance with Trading Partner Requirements

Many trading partners, particularly large retailers, require their suppliers to implement EDI solutions to facilitate efficient data exchange. By adopting an EDI solution, businesses can meet these requirements and strengthen their relationships with key trading partners.

Example: A small food manufacturer wants to collaborate with a major grocery chain. To become an approved supplier, the manufacturer must comply with the grocery chain’s EDI requirements. By implementing an EDI solution, the manufacturer can seamlessly exchange purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices with the grocery chain, meeting their standards and opening the door for increased business opportunities.

5. Scalability and Adaptability

EDI solutions offer scalability, allowing businesses to accommodate growing data volumes and expanding trading partner networks. They also provide flexibility to adapt to changing industry standards and regulatory requirements without disrupting operations.

Example: A global logistics company needs to connect with multiple partners across different regions and comply with diverse EDI standards. By implementing a scalable and adaptable EDI solution, the company can easily integrate with various partners, regardless of their preferred EDI formats. This enables efficient communication, smooth logistics operations, and streamlined customs clearance processes.



EDI solution is no longer a luxury but a necessity for businesses across industries. It empowers organizations to streamline supply chain processes, achieve cost and time savings, ensure data accuracy, meet trading partner requirements, and adapt to changing business landscapes. By embracing the power of EDI, businesses can unlock the potential for seamless data exchange, leading to enhanced efficiency, improved customer satisfaction, and sustained growth in a competitive marketplace.

Ready to find out more?

Drop us a email today at for a free quote! You can also call us at  905-727-6782

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 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?

Get-started-with-EDI - Commport Communications

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

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) can trace its roots back to the 1960s when businesses started looking for ways to exchange data electronically instead of relying on paper-based processes. 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.

Here are some key milestones in the history of EDI:

1968-1975: The Origins of EDI During this period, the first electronic messaging systems began to emerge. The Transportation Data Coordinating Committee (TDCC) developed a standard format for electronic messages, known as the TDCC Transport Data Format (TDF). This format laid the groundwork for the future development of EDI standards.

Late 1970s-1980s: Emergence of Standardized EDI Formats In the late 1970s and early 1980s, various industry groups and organizations started developing standardized formats for EDI messages. For example, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in the United States developed the ANSI X12 standard, while the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/EDIFACT) created the EDIFACT standard, which gained international recognition.

1980s-1990s: EDI Adoption and Advancement During the 1980s, EDI gained significant traction as more businesses recognized the benefits of electronic data exchange. Companies across industries, such as retail, manufacturing, and automotive, began implementing EDI to streamline their supply chains, improve efficiency, and reduce costs. This period also saw advancements in EDI technology, including the introduction of value-added networks (VANs) that provided secure and reliable communication channels for EDI transactions.

1990s-Present: EDI and Internet Integration The widespread adoption of the Internet in the 1990s brought new possibilities for EDI. The emergence of internet-based protocols and technologies, such as AS2 (Applicability Statement 2) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol), allowed businesses to exchange EDI messages directly over the internet, bypassing the need for VANs. This integration of EDI with the internet opened doors for smaller businesses to adopt EDI more easily and facilitated faster and more cost-effective communication between trading partners.

Recent Advancements:

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

Cloud-based and API-driven EDI In recent years, cloud-based EDI solutions have gained popularity. These solutions offer scalability, flexibility, and easier integration with existing systems, allowing businesses to leverage the benefits of EDI without the need for significant infrastructure investments. Additionally, the rise of application programming interfaces (APIs) has enabled real-time, seamless integration between business systems and EDI platforms, further enhancing data exchange capabilities.

EDI Integration - Step by Step Process

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!


Implementing EDI can revolutionize your business processes by enabling seamless data exchange and enhanced collaboration with your trading partners. By following these step-by-step guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to getting started with EDI. Remember, selecting the right EDI provider, understanding your business requirements, mapping data structures, and thorough testing are crucial elements for a successful EDI implementation.

Embrace the power of EDI and experience the efficiency and benefits it brings to your organization’s data exchange processes.

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 - Commport Communications

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.

Here is a list of the top 12 industries that commonly utilize EDI on a daily basis,

  1. Retail and Consumer Goods
  2. Manufacturing and Supply Chain
  3. Logistics and Transportation
  4. Healthcare
  5. Automotive
  6. Banking and Finance
  7. Pharmaceuticals
  8. Energy and Utilities
  9. Insurance
  10. Government and Public Sector
  11. Telecommunications
  12. Food and Beverage


1. Retail and Consumer Goods: EDI is extensively used in the retail industry for activities such as purchase orders, invoices, advanced shipping notices, and inventory management.

2. Manufacturing and Supply Chain: Manufacturing companies rely on EDI for streamlining supply chain operations, including order processing, shipping notifications, and inventory control.

3. Logistics and Transportation: EDI plays a crucial role in the transportation industry, enabling electronic communication between carriers, shippers, and customs authorities for tasks like freight bookings, shipping instructions, and customs documentation.

4. Healthcare: The healthcare sector utilizes EDI for claims processing, eligibility verification, electronic remittance advice, and coordination of benefits between healthcare providers, insurers, and government entities.

5. Automotive: EDI is employed in the automotive industry for various processes, including purchase orders, production schedules, shipping notifications, and inventory management.

6. Banking and Finance: Financial institutions leverage EDI for electronic funds transfers, payment processing, and remittance advice.

7. Pharmaceuticals: The pharmaceutical industry relies on EDI for electronic ordering and invoicing, product catalogs, and tracking of drug shipments.

8. Energy and Utilities: EDI is used in the energy and utilities sector for activities such as electronic billing, meter data management, and energy trading.

9. Insurance: Insurance companies utilize EDI for policy administration, claims processing, and premium payments.

10. Government and Public Sector: Government agencies and public sector organizations employ EDI for procurement, invoicing, and financial transactions.

11. Telecommunications: The telecommunications industry utilizes EDI for activities like order management, provisioning, and billing.

12. Food and Beverage: EDI is commonly used in the food and beverage industry for supply chain management, order processing, and invoicing

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 for a free demo! You can also call us at  905-727-6782

What We Do?

What We Do?

Commport Communications provides a wide range of innovative and comprehensive supply chain management solutions for Electronic Commerce (EC). This includes Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Value Added Network (VAN), and Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN).

Commport supply chain solutions

Explaining what Commport does isn’t the easiest or sexiest thing to try to express especially in an elevator pitch style conversation. Statements like “we provide EDI and data sync services” are most often met with a look of confusion and when we go home at night to our spouses, all they seem to understand is that we work with computers. (but doesn’t just about everyone these days?)

I was once coming home from a GS1 Standards Event and upon reaching customs I was faced with the standard re-entry questions… “You say you have been travelling for work, what do you do for work?” My go to response has always been “ecommerce” and this is usually enough detail to get me through, but not this time.  The agent then looked at me and said “ecommerce is a very large field, can you elaborate”.  Caught slightly off guard, I told him that I was attending a conference to “define the international standards for the electronic exchange of product catalogue information through a global distributed networ….”  I didn’t even get to finish my sentence before his eyes glazed over and he just waved me through with a muttered “Welcome Home”.

So, what is it that we do at Commport?  We provide value added EDI and GDSN data sync services.  That’s great… but what does that mean?  At our last staff holiday party, surrounded by our spouses, our COO gave a speech that for the first time, clarified how what we do affects every one of us on a day to day basis.

“We help to put food on the shelf at your local supermarket.  We help to ensure that suppliers get paid. We help ensure that the product information that is made available to you as a consumer, is accurate and up to date – we help to make supply chains more efficient so that when you go to the store you can find the products and information about them that you need in order to make a purchase.”

For the first time ever, what we do here at Commport clicked for our spouses.  We often get lost in the nitty gritty details of what we do day to day and sometimes fail to take a step back and appreciate the broader impact of what it is we do.

Sure, supply chains existed before EDI and data sync technologies and goods were made available at stores for consumers to purchase. However, retailers such as Walmart have famously leveraged technologies based around EDI and supplier communications to optimize their supply chain management techniques.  In the case of Walmart specifically, this approach to its business is directly credited with helping to make it into the world’s largest retailer.

For a supply chain to be effective in today’s retail landscape, it takes collaboration with suppliers and the implementation of information technologies to get it right.  Using this approach, retailers are able to optimize their inventory, turns, warehouse management techniques and vendor payment schedule while suppliers are able to provide timelier logistics services, accurate information regarding product availability, and electronic invoices.

Putting EDI and data sync technologies into practice is beneficial for both the supplier and the retailer organizations, but the real win is dealt to the consumer who is able to find the products they are looking for, the information they need and with those, is able make the purchase that is right for them.

Enabling that is what we do at Commport, every day.


Ready to find out more?

Drop us a line today for a free quote!

Which EDI Solution is Best for You?

Which EDI Solution is Best for You?

10 Step by Step Guide To Find The Best EDI Solution Provider

So, you’re a manufacturer or supplier of goods. It could be tomatoes, it could be tires, it could be school textbooks...let’s just lump it all together as 'widgets'.

As you’ve probably already discovered, producing or sourcing those widgets is just the start. Now you’ve got to get them into an environment where they can be sold to an end user.

Commport Communications Integrated EDI Process

Electronic Data Interchange Explained

To accomplish this, there’s a lot of data and documentation that must be exchanged between you and a retailer. From Orders and Invoices to Remittance Advices and Advance Ship Notices, there are hundreds of business documents that can be exchanged between trading partners. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) has become the preferred method of exchanging this data between B2B buyers and sellers.


In simplest terms, EDI is a data pipeline that’s established between a supplier and a retailer, and data needs to flow in both directions. The aforementioned business documents flow from buyer to seller. Other data, such as standing inventory levels, sales reports, purchase orders, invoices and many other pieces of information flow from the seller to the buyer. In today’s Just-In-Time (JIT) retail environment, many retailers will only deal with suppliers who can provide data via EDI, and suppliers with any kind of sales volume generally find transmitting data via EDI solves a lot of internal data management headaches. But how do you choose the EDI solution that’s best for your business?

Customer service executive working at Commport office

Choose The Right EDI Solution

There are currently about 150 different EDI providers doing business in North America. Yes, that’s well over 100 possible solutions to your needs! It is important to choose the right EDI solution provider because they will truly become a partner in your business, acting as a liaison between you and your trading partners, facilitating the daily communication of business documents.

Deciding which one’s best could be a pretty daunting task, but everything starts to become a little clearer if you follow these selection criteria to narrow down the EDI provider field:

10 Step by Step Guide To Find The Best EDI Solution Provider

1) Determine the Specific EDI Needs of Your Business

Where are you now? And where do you want to be in 5-10 years? Do you want to play with the big, big boys on an international mass retail scale or are your goals more niche market and regional? Answering these questions will help to hone in on the extent of your future data management requirements and the levels of EDI transaction volume you’ll likely have. Not every EDI partner will be able to scale up (or down!) to meet your current and future demands.

2) Stability of the EDI Partner

A lot of these are the same questions you’d ask when screening any service provider. How long have you been in business? What sort of environment (office) do you have? Tell me about your data security standards? What is your system uptime record? If you’re not a techie, you may not understand all the jargon but at least you’ll have it to compare and ask those who do know.

3) How Accessible is Your EDI Partner when You Need Them?

The geography of your EDI partner is an interesting point. Yes, EDI operates in the same fashion as the internet. Yes, data can be transferred from one side of the world to the other in a flash. So, technically, the location of an EDI partner’s offices shouldn’t matter. But what if you need tech support or operational help? A partner located three time zones away may not be available when you need them. At a minimum, find out about a provider’s customer support policy and hours of operation.

4) Industry-Specific EDI Partners

Some EDI providers focus on very specific industries, product lines or even individual retail chains. Their entire business is based on servicing that niche and they’ve become very effective at dealing with the nuances involved. They can be a fantastic partner if you’re actually in their target industry but they probably won’t do business with you if you’re not.

5) EDI Scalability

As mentioned in the first point, some EDI providers focus exclusively on SME suppliers who only deal at a regional level, while others will only partner with high volume, international suppliers. Only about 25% have the scalability in their platform to effectively do both. Keep this in mind if you’re starting small but have plans for world domination.

6) References/Testimonials for Your Selected EDI Partner

Just as if you were hiring a builder, accountant or any other specialist, ask for a list of current clients to whom you can actually speak. And don’t accept a “no” on this request. Get their opinion on the platform’s usability, stability and functionality, as well as the partner’s customer service.

7) EDI Suggestions from Retailers

While they’re often hesitant to hand out pure recommendations, the retailers you are, or are aspiring to, deal with often have lists of EDI partners they know of or have worked with in the past. Conversely, while retailers may be able to make some recommendations, they may just be comfortable with their current provider and not realize that there are better options available. As a result, it is probably best to seek out additional recommendations as well.

8) Value Added Network (VAN)

A Value Added Network (VAN) is the system of gateways, switches and routers that connects the EDI data sender with the receiver. While there are about 150 EDI partners in North America, only a few manage their own VANs. Those that do are somewhat akin to suppliers who not only offers the phones (the EDI software) but also control the phone lines (VAN), as well. Providers that do not have their own VAN have to buy capacity on other providers’ networks. EDI partners with their own VAN have total control over transmission routing, system stability, data security and other integrity issues. Aligning with a partner that controls their own VAN goes a long way toward ensure your EDI functionality will always be there when you need it.

9) Does the EDI Partner Offer GDSN Compliant Services?

Compliance with the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) is an emerging trend in supply chain management. Basically, the GDSN is a set of worldwide data formatting standards created to ensure there’s a common structure used by the thousands of buyers and sellers sending EDI data around the globe. Most large, international retailers now mandate that their suppliers be GDSN compliant, and it will become the industry standard over the next decade. If you want stay ahead of the curve, partner up with an EDI partner who’s already a GDSN certified data pool provider. There are only two in North America right now and they are on the leading edge of the future.

10) Software as a Service (SaaS) EDI Solutions

Do you want your EDI software and database to be hosted on your own internal computers or stored remotely and accessed anytime you need them via the internet? If you chose the latter, you need to source out an EDI partner who offers a SaaS EDI solution. You may have heard of Software as a Service (SaaS) and its close relative, “cloud” computing. Right now, about 50% of North American EDI providers offer a SaaS-based EDI platform. Because SaaS platforms are hosted remotely, they require no IT support from your end, no additional hardware, and can be accessed from anywhere there’s an internet connection. Plus, if your computers go down for any reason, your data is backed up and available on the partner’s servers. The entire software industry is slowly heading in this direction so, again, if you want to be ahead of curve and ready for the future, a web-based SaaS solution is the way to go.

Find out if Commport Communications is the right EDI partner for you! Contact us today for more information.

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


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.