Procedural and Cultural Changes
Monday, July 2, 2012, 8:00 AM
Conducting business has been seeing a lot of changes lately and EDI seems to the most prominent of all. The influence of EDI on the way the business is handled is not negligible and the managers on the technical wing will be focusing on the specifics of the computer necessary for the implementation of EDI. Everyday life is inevitable without paper documents being used to describe tasks. The businesses make orders through paper purchase orders and send it across to the suppliers. The suppliers save these orders after manually feeding the data into their computers before passing on them to the concerned department. This process of filing the paper documents and loading data into computer is done by all the internal departments of the supplier. Finally, there are paper invoices and shipping documents at our end along with the products for which the customers respond with paper checks.
On using EDI for these transactions, one obvious advantage is the little use of paper all through the process. In a broader sense, EDI helps to eliminate time consuming business procedures with the decrease in the use of paper. Although one considerable challenge would be that the organizations will be dependent on one another to get the goods manufactured and stocked right on schedule. It is further tough when there are huge differences between organizations in the business procedures that are followed.
Cultural changes often follow the procedural changes in any organization. The most suggested option is to employ an Organization change management (OCM) expert to assist with the modifications. The OCM experts will be there to help with the shift of the mind sets in all levels of employees and prepare them for the whirl of changes. Once the employees are aware of the changes clearly, it will help them to be in line with the changes of breaking the regular schedules, taking up new responsibilities and embrace any impacts.
Learning curve: Changing the process is not an easy task by itself and additionally, it is always a mystery what further challenges would these changes cause. With the implementation of the EDI, everyone should be able to work in an environment without paper which is a big encounter. But well before the start of the implementation of the EDI, the employees should be able to understand how the system works in and out. They should also be acquainted with how the procedure changes in handling the results. EDI does not take it easy on the technical side as well and demands a lot of understanding from both the sides. Hence the people will have to compromise on what they do and how they have been doing. They must be ready to work more collaboratively than the previous way and be willing to exchange vital information as well. More importantly, the information that is exchanged is the main point of trust among the suppliers and the customers.
By choosing the path of EDI, the employees should not only be well versed in their organizations business activities and procedures but also the partner organizations procedures to ensure smooth conduct of business. This level of understanding is very critical for both the ends of the business. Success is never complete with the trust between the business partners and it is mandatory to organize regular meetings with the suppliers and the customers especially because of the changing needs. Change is the compulsory side effect of a successful implementation and it is important to avoid the hesitation to accept the same and motivate people to handle the EDI application.
In todays world, people with IT skill set are in great demand and are valued over most of other resources which has become a challenge to sustain the EDI resources. These people require strong technical, managerial, communication and excellent people skills to excel in the EDI field. The business might need a number of people to achieve the tasks with the above skills depending on its magnitude. Apart from the strong interpersonal skills, the EDI personnel should possess good communication skills owing to the fact that they will be the primary contact with the customers. On the other hand, the technical EDI staff should be capable of attending the customer problems and provide solutions as quickly as possible.