Give them more than one option

Your supplier community can be divided up into two groups: Those that are EDI capable

already and should be high on the priority list to integrate with all of your sites, and those

that do not have EDI capabilities. The latter are either very small with basic back office

systems and no IT department, or larger with more scalable business applications but view

EDI/B2B integration as costly, resource intensive, time consuming and offering limited benefit to their business. These are all concerns or objectives an enablement program must overcome.

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN

In the past, non-EDI capable suppliers have been subjected to the traditional approach to

supplier enablement which can be summarized as this:

  • A letter or email sent to suppliers announcing a mandate to do EDI

  • Suppliers are forced to use a single EDI vendor their customer has selected

  • The messaging of the program is all about the benefits the customer expects

  • Suppliers are told to expect a call from said EDI vendor to get connected

None of these go to address any of the concerns or objections the suppliers will have once

they receive this type of communication from their customer.


So consider this approach: profile and segment your supplier community to understand their

business application investment and connectivity capability so that you can determine an

enablement tactic for each segment of suppliers. Then through a well-orchestrated communication plan educate your suppliers on the benefits they will receive from integrating their business with your organization and they can do this through a choice of solutions such as EDI through the web, PDF-to-EDI for invoicing, and integration-as-a-subscription solutions to name just a few.


In summary, help your suppliers speed up their ability to buy and connect to your organization by removing the complexity of selecting an EDI solution. Following this best practice and continuing to focus on the supplier will maximize participation in your enablement program and increase your competitiveness.