With Planning Schedules, Sometimes Less Can Be More

A number of our clients receive 830 (X12) and DELFOR (EDIFACT) production schedules on a regular basis from their customers. The frequency of schedules is typically anywhere from daily to once/week for each PO/item/location combination. For some of our clients, this results in at least hundreds (sometimes thousands) of updates per day to their ERP systems.

About a year ago, one of our clients asked to change their EDI processing schedule (almost all 830s and 100’s per day) from daily to twice/week. My initial reaction was that it wasn’t a great idea to do this – if they are sending schedules daily and the interface is automatic, why not process daily? But after I thought about it more and discussed it with them, the case for less processing became more clear.

Each time EDI is received/processed, exceptions can be generated by the EDI process and by the ERP system when MRP or other planning tools are executed against the data. If the schedules have not changed, you are retracing the same ground you did the day before and analyzing the same exceptions day after day. This creates a lot of busywork and a lot of unnecessary “noise” for material planning.

So the idea to reduce the noise and busywork for this client was to change to processing EDI twice/week: Monday which is when most changes/updates occur and Thursday, picking up any other updates during the week.

The TRG EDI Connector has built-in functionality to only process the highest release number for a given PO/item combination if multiple PO/item combinations are found in the batch of EDI being processed. Basically only the highest release is processed. The release number is mapped in from the data so it’s critical that the mapping be set up/reviewed to ensure that a logical, unique release number is being used to ensure the highest release is the most recent document. We typically map the ISA/13 element which is a unique interchange control number sent with each EDI transaction from the trading partner and it increments with each new EDI transaction.

So, in summary, the most recent release of a batch of EDI is processed (even if they’ve sent 10 schedules for the same PO/item) and the rest of the “noise” is discarded…

You can still process other more time-critical EDI on a daily basis such as shipment authorizations/triggers/JIT’s and discrete PO’s, but it might be worth considering turning down the “noise” if you are bombarded with constant schedule updates from some of your customers.

I just recently recommended this approach to another client and they will be implementing in the coming weeks. I expect it will help them simplify and reduce the amount of time dealing with exceptions daily.

It seems somewhat counterintuitive to process EDI less, but under the right circumstances, less can get you more.