The last few months have been interesting to say the least. I have been in discovery mode for a medium size Jacksonville based retailer evaluating their EDI processes. The contract called for extracting and supplying EDI statistics to EDI providers and learning how the business does EDI.
This was my second contract in the retail industry and the experience is extremely beneficial. Most of my experience comes from manufacturing/distribution operations where I was either hired to implement, fix or re-implement ERP software solutions and provide IT management based on the IBM midrange systems.
What I discovered are EDI processes set up by RPG programmers who did not fully understand EDI. Instead of using Inovis TrustedLink translator on the iSeries to provide validation of the EDI documents, based on the published guidelines, RPG programming was created.
At very basic level this setup allows invalid data to populate into user files and then program failure farther down the line when code is not created for every variation of potential data error. I actually saw this happen during an invoicing run where missing data was allowed through the translator and validation programs. This required programming effort to back out data that had partially processed through the back end systems and delayed payments to suppliers.
I have seen this scenario several times before and successfully changed EDI operations to run with minimal intervention and staff. In my humble opinion if an EDI operation requires anything more than a EDI coordinator to maintain processing it is not implemented correctly.
Another interesting find is all element qualifiers are translated into the user files. Not that it’s wrong, just useless. Unless, the user file fields are so generic that the previous field denotes what the current field represents. Oh wait but how are you going to have to create programming to validate field contents? :) NOT!
If the wheel exists why reinvent, EDI software is a tool already written why not use of it?
I wish the company would have hired me as a permanent employee. I would have enjoyed re-implementing EDI and being more involved in the business side of IT.
I feel bad that I did not give any notice but felt that I had not integrated into the daily activities so I would not be missed. I needed health insurance and security of a full time position without the fear of working my way out of job.
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. ~Henry Ford