In my previous blog discussion regarding new implementations of EDI (5 Tips to Consider When Setting Up EDI Trading Partners), we made a comparison to a person trying to purchase a house and having it built without fully understanding the requirements to achieve the goal. I would like to carry on that analogy a little longer to discuss a critical point touched on at the end of the last discussion. Testing. This single point can define the success or failure of an electronic data interchange (EDI) implementation.
So how does testing translate to building a house? Good question. If we think of testing as "window shopping," then one could say that testing would be like evaluating model homes for their function and aesthetics. But just getting the shape or structure defined is not enough. You can design and build the best structure ever, but if how the house is furnished is not "appropriate," I highly doubt that the experience of living in it will be enjoyable.
Most anyone I know that would be investing the significant resources to build their home would be making sure that they know what they want out of each room, have an idea of a theme or decor and then get some sort of guidance regarding whether or not the choices are sound. In the same way, EDI requires a solid foundation, but if that foundation is not "furnished" properly, it can generate more issues than it solves.
IQMS' manufacturing ERP software, EnterpriseIQ, provides a very respected and solid software base for running an enterprise and includes an integrated EDI processor. The software provides incredible flexibility, many modules and a huge amount of tools to work with. Just as in the example of furnishing a house, when implementing EDI, it is imperative to understand the end result that needs to be achieved. This comes through testing and discovery that needs to happen before trying to be live with the system (living in the house).
Even though it might be possible to have an idea of the outcome based on the implementation (design) choices, until testing happens, one cannot be certain of the end result. Testing gives the opportunity to identify areas that need to be corrected, streamlined or completely redesigned. These factors can be magnitudes more difficult and costly to sort through once a system is in production. Think of walking into your new house and realizing the pink walls you thought would look so great just don't.
If there is any point to this blog, it is that testing is extremely important and usually underemphasized or overlooked. Anyone that does any kind of development can attest to the fact that testing takes a significant amount of the time. Knowing this ahead of time and planning appropriately can help ensure success is achievable.