A couple of years ago, Olaf Debacker was facing a tough challenge: migrate dozens of customers with complex EDI connections using unknown document formats.
We were migrating customers to a new Distribution Management System for Euro-Sprinters, a subsidiary of bpost, the Belgian postal service company. We wanted to make the migration with zero impact to our existing customers, but most of the information related to EDI (protocols, file formats, mappings,…) was in the hands of an external party and difficult to get documented in time. That’s when we decided to bring Babelway into the equation.
Olaf Debacker works as a consultant and interim manager specialized in supply chain management, helping companies find and implement the right software solution to support their processes. Olaf always tries to focus on solutions that are quick and easy to implement. He kindly agreed to share his Babelway experience.
Finally, I had full control of all aspects of EDI— even as a non-technical user
For the migration project, Olaf and his team started by using Babelway purely as a mailbox. They just asked the customer to send all the messages towards Babelway.They used Babelway as a toolbox to start examining the formats and gradually map the different documents to the import format of the new software. The new system needed quite some additional information that was not available in the customer files, so the lookup tables and formulas (some of the more advanced Babelway features) came in handy to apply the business logic and enrich the data.
The nice thing about Babelway is that it offers full transparency: you see how the connectors are made, how the message format is set up, how the mappings and formulas are made. You can even access the underlying formats that Babelway uses to perform the conversions. This makes it safe to outsource the creation of a connector if you don’t have time to do it yourself. Afterwards, you can see exactly how it was set up and you can build further on that. There are no “black boxes” in the system.
I was up and running in production the second day—and I didn’t have to wait for anyone’s assistance
It may sound strange, but the thing Olaf liked the most about Babelway was its help guide and documentation. He could “self-start” just using its extensive help guide and documentation. For Olaf, this was just another example of what he calls the “full transparency” approach:
Quite often I encounter software that promises to be “easy to implement”, but they often lack good documentation. You are either forced to get support from their helpdesk or pay for extra training. And it’s often done on purpose as part of their business model. But with Babelway, the second day I was in production with a first connection. And what’s really remarkable—without any assistance. I could learn it all by myself.
The customer migration was done 2 times faster!
Olaf’s team was able to work independently, without having to depend on:
- The EDI service provider that could not timely provide them with the information and programming capacity they were looking for
- Their IT department, that was busy with other aspects of the project
This allowed Olaf to gradually understand and migrate customers files to the new system, one by one— without the customers having to change a single thing. They did it with a high degree of confidence too, as they could first use Babelway to test that everything was working well before making the switch.
The best part: they did the complete migration in just under three months.
I’m sure that if we did it the “old way”, the whole project would have taken another three months to complete.
No more lost business opportunities…
In many organizations I noticed business opportunities being “killed” because the data integration effort was too big or lasted too long.
Often, specific formats are mandated in our industry, making it difficult to switch fast from one supplier to another. Lots of customers on the market simply don’t have the IT capacity to start creating those formats and conversions, let alone set-up the hardware and software to get the right connectors in place.
EDI is no rocket science but I feel it has always been considered as a typical IT specialists responsibility. I feel Babelway finally breaks that circle: you don’t need (heavy) IT involvement anymore to set up EDI connections. A business user can now take control over a crucial part (often the beginning) of his business process. That being said, with the shift of control comes a set of new responsibilities for the business such as day-to-day monitoring and error handling. But also there Babelway offers sufficient functionalities to assist in that.
Beneficial to my consultancy practice
As a consultant, Olaf cares about two things: getting new projects, and making my customers happy. Babelway helps consultants with both:
- Getting new projects:
I see loads of opportunities to improve my (potential) customer’s business processes using Babelway. Just recently, my knowledge of Babelway helped me gain a project assignment since fast “onboarding” my client’s customers was a crucial requirement. And one can get very creative in its use, far beyond the standard data conversion: generating PDF shipment labels with barcodes, a picking list, triggering SMS’es, building up a customer database etc. etc.. I used Babelway for all of this.
- Delivering the right solution:
In bigger organizations, the people ‘on the business-side’ are happy to take control of the customer integration process without having to go through often lengthy IT procedures. At the same time they free up IT resources that can focus on creating “value adding” functionalities. Smaller organizations can finally afford to provide all sorts of EDI links with their partners without having to worry about installing and maintaining soft-, hardware nor about loosing the control. Till now l have not found another software that offers all these advantages, and I’m always on the lookout.
I’ve already implemented 200+ connections, and would recommend Babelway to anyone
Anyone looking for an EDI solution should spend at least one day with Babelway, to see if it can solve their problems. I would even recommend it to those who already use a different solution. They may discover things they didn’t expect…
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