Data synchronization—the elusive no-brainer: there is a lot to be gained and a lot to be lost, so pay attention

Data synchronization—the elusive no-brainer: there is a lot to be gained and a lot to be lost, so pay attention – Editor’s page: supply chain management

Tom Kevan

Did you ever notice that the things people characterize as “common sense” are the things that many people don’t think about and just plain miss altogether? Well, heads up: data synchronization may fall into that category.

Every year, companies lose billions of dollars as a result of data integrity problems in their supply chains. According to the Oxford Consulting Group, which specializes in electronic data interchange (EDI), one study reported that 60% of all invoices contained errors, costing $40 to $400 each to correct.

You can avoid these losses by working with your trading partners to agree on and guarantee access to key business data (e.g., product numbers and prices) via a neutral repository. Common sense. But while many companies have taken the first steps toward implementing data synchronization systems, the fact is that few have gone live on a broad scale.

Many outside resources–from data repository vendors to connectivity providers to data exchanges–can help. But the bulk of the work will be done inside your own company.

This is no small task. Success calls for more than just moving data. Companies that respond to this need with half-hearted, under-staffed action will come up short in the end.

Start by setting up a team that includes everyone involved in bringing products to market–product management, sales, customer service, logistics, warehouse management and accounting. This team will be responsible for sanitizing all existing data within the company to ensure that it is consistent and accurate, synchronizing all internal systems (e.g., spreadsheets, databases, catalogs). It’s key to accomplish this part of the process before you begin working with trading partners.

When you have your house in order, you’re ready to move outside your own four walls. In this stage, you can avail yourself of the UCCnet, or you can try an expanded version of EDI.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore the obvious. Take action.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Advanstar Communications, Inc.

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