In any business, it’s rare to find anything that’s “always true.” But to say you can vastly improve accuracy and consistency by using EDI (electronic data interchange) instead of paper for your order processing comes very close to being, well, a fact. And an obvious, almost direct benefit to improvements in these areas can be seen in the bottom line.
Most companies launch their EDI processes beginning with purchase orders, often because they’re required to by new business partners, and accuracy increases almost automatically.
Using the old paper-based system, a data entry clerk has to go through many discrete steps. The first is simply confirming that all the right details have been entered on the order form by the customer – the item ordered, under the conditions specified, at a specific time and place. Often, one or more of these details are either missing or are unclear, which means mistakes can be made when entering the data into the order entry system. Even when all of the information has been sent correctly, a data entry clerk will make mistakes – it’s not uncommon for data to be entered incorrectly, or into the wrong field, for example.
In contrast, when an order is received electronically, EDI translators enter the data automatically, flagging any missing or ambiguous data. (On the sender’s side, errors have been reduced also, as EDI requires forms to be filled out completely and correctly before being sent.)
Sharing standard digital order specifications also means partners are sharing data – not text. The omission of hand-written or typed notations from orders eliminates the possibility of misinterpretation and misunderstanding, which can result in rejected orders and invoice reductions (and, of course, lost customers).