Optimizing EDI for Microsoft Dynamics AX

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1 WHITE PAPER Optimizing EDI for Microsoft Dynamics AX Common challenges and solutions associated with managing EDI requirements, and how Accellos approach optimizes EDI performance for Dynamics AX users.

2 Executive Summary In today s market, EDI vendors commonly subscribe to a generalist approach, in that they deploy their applications and services across multiple ERP platforms using a universal adapter. With this approach, a proprietary toolset is built and interfaced with a wide assortment of ERP s without a lot of depth or focus on any particular ERP platform. In Contrast, Accellos position in designing its EDI solutions has focused on developing core expertise around an ERP system and designing a solution exclusively for the ERP product. This approach has delivered a unique offering for AX users: a turnkey EDI solution that optimizes EDI document management for Dynamics AX. Accellos market experience as an EDI solutions provider has validated that the integration to the business system and its resulting workflow is crucial to realizing ROI and is of significant value. To achieve the design objectives that AX buyers most commonly identified as critical evaluation criteria for their EDI solution, Accellos took the innovative approach of designing its EDI solution within AX s AOT foundation (Application Object Tables) utilizing both Morphx and X++. Additionally, the solution uses the AX base classes for integration, and the.net Business Connector (for AX 2009 and AX 2012) to break through performance barriers and achieve best of class results for users and partners that support the AX application. This design approach enables multi-threaded processing of business document integrations to insure sufficient throughput and a scalable architecture for meeting the demands of organizations experiencing rapid growth and high volumes of document exchanges with their business partners. This white paper will explain how Accellos strategy optimizes EDI integration with Microsoft Dynamics AX and describe how this approach addresses common EDI challenges faced by Microsoft Dynamics AX users. Research, Training, and Initial Design Considerations Core to Accellos design approach, Accellos belief was that to deliver a solution that optimized workflow processes and filled gaps in sales order, fulfillment and procurement processes. This approach required that the organization have a deep understanding of Microsoft Dynamics AX. Prior to building an EDI solution specifically for Dynamics AX, Accellos first had to develop core expertise around the AX ERP platform. This process required significant research and training on the Microsoft Dynamics AX product line, recruitment of skilled AX resources, and considerable collaboration with product management and technical resources from Microsoft. For an EDI product, the focused and built-for embedded strategy is not the standard approach. Commonly, EDI software and hosting providers have a mapping utility that is constructed to allow their offering to interface to multiple ERP solutions. The approach is ERP agnostic rather than specific to unique attributes and industry specific requirements for the given ERP platform. These interfaced solutions fall short in providing enough depth and flexibility to address the wide set of requirements encountered when exchanging EDI documents across your business partner community. The resulting outcome is a solution that is visibly disconnected to AX, as well as costly customizations that complicate your AX environment, unpredictable budgets for implementation, delays in onboarding new business partners and difficulty supporting existing business partners evolving requirements. In addition, most generic EDI solutions have their own look and process flow. The impact can be substantial in managing discrete applications, from an expanded learning curve and increased error rates to inordinate process complexity that is frustrating for business users and difficult to manage. The Connection between EDI and the ERP Business System Accellos has been focused on delivering EDI solutions to Dynamics users since1992 and has performed over 1,000 successful implementations. Accellos domain expertise includes end-to-end EDI lifecycle management, EDI document compliance, as well as the underlying business processes that EDI is intended to automate and most importantly, an in-depth knowledge of Microsoft Dynamics AX. Combining our 20 plus years of experience with our deep understanding of Microsoft Dynamics AX enables our organization to deliver a turnkey offering that is market proven as well as the continued expertise needed as your business evolves.

3 Accellos believes that EDI processing must follow the same order processing flow of the ERP system being deployed. The tightest level of integration yields far better results for AX users including better control of time sensitive business documents and far more effective usage of business rules that identify potential exceptional scenarios before they result in down line issues. Streamlining EDI Order Processing Workflow Accellos design manages pre-processing of EDI documents using configurable business rules. Business rules can be configured to check for or dynamically change data according to the needs of each unique trading partner. All inbound and outbound transactions are processed through the business rules engine to streamline the arduous review cycle that employees are likely performing manually today. Accellos EDI solution provides visibility to transactions that passed the validation process, as well as transactions where an exception has been identified and requires the attention of a business user responsible for the trading partner relationship or specific business document. These exceptions could be as simple as pricing discrepancies or an order for a discontinued item, or as complex as a custom business rule validation built into your AX specific implementation for manually entered transactions. Custom business rules built into your AX implementation could be inherited by Accellos EDI solution for the resulting business document workflows that are automated which eliminates having to recode the customization for EDI document workflows. Releasing incorrect or inaccurate EDI documents to a business partner typically results in financial penalties in the form of chargebacks and damaged scorecard performance. The Accellos business rule and content validation occurs before transactions enter or exit Microsoft Dynamics AX. The business rule and content validation step helps to ensure the integrity of the data passed through the business system, as well as transactional data released to trading partners. In a business climate where order delivery windows continue to shrink and businesses operate on 24 x 7 cycles, automatically validating data exchanges before they introduce supply issues is critical. Using Business Rules to Deploy Exception Management Accellos business rules reside within the AX environment, which means that any field or structure changes made to Microsoft Dynamics AX will not require redistribution and recompilation of business rules by the EDI provider. As your business and the underlying AX environment evolve, the Accellos EDI solution is designed to absorb those changes without requiring costly customizations and continual updates. Accellos configurable cross references, workflows, and mapping engine present a limitless amount of business rules and flexibility to address varying requirements across business partners, item characteristics and distribution models. AX business users can manage the intuitive EDI business rules themselves and configure and edit those rules as needed, without requiring highly technical AX resources. When designing Accellos EDI solution for Microsoft Dynamics AX, Accellos deliberately sought design objectives that solved distinct business challenges for Dynamics AX users exchanging EDI documents with their business partners: Ability to process EDI documents within AX as part of the native Dynamics AX workflow Ability to enable true business users to manage EDI document flow within AX vs. requiring IT personnel to map data and troubleshoot issues that are business context related to a trading partner relationship Built-in data integrity validation prior to importing transaction into AX so as not to introduce down line issues due to data related issues Prevent transactions from being released to business partners with incomplete or inaccurate information with built in validation and exception checking tailored to the business partners compliance requirements Ability to automate EDI document workflows and manage EDI by exception High throughput of EDI document processing for high-volume users and periods of spiked document volumes (i.e. large replenishment order cycles, Cyber Monday, etc.) Reduced implementation costs from implementing a turnkey solution with pre-built document integrations and configurable business rules centered around AX business processes

4 AIF Services require that the XML syntax of data coming into Microsoft Dynamics AX must match exactly with the AIF signature created in a web service. Accellos EDI integration does not rely on AIF Web Services. By doing so, we removed the necessity for the application to be recompiled and redistributed whenever changes take place, thus any changes made to the application take place in real time with no impact on EDI processing. For EDI systems running outside of AX, a simple AX table change, such as a field add, may require that your EDI provider recompile their application. This introduces additional cost and may mean that you are waiting for a whole new release cycle and you island your business on a custom build that your provider has to maintain separately. EDI solutions that rely on web services can offer a limited set of basic business rules that reside outside of the Microsoft Dynamics AX location environment and must be preconfigured by the EDI vendor. Often times, when working with a universal adapter solution, exceptions may not be identified until after EDI transactions have been imported / exported. This introduces additional monitoring and review cycles that prevent your organization from fully automating EDI workflows and truly managing only the exceptional scenarios. Improved Data Integrity and Synchronization Accellos solution utilizes data that is resident to Microsoft Dynamic AX, which eliminates data integrity and synchronization concerns. EDI solutions not built for Microsoft Dynamics AX are restricted to one-to-one mapping of transactions, or must synchronize two sets of data one set that resides in Microsoft Dynamics AX and an additional/duplicate set of data maintained by the EDI vendor. EDI solutions that utilize universal adapters must continuously receive data from Microsoft Dynamics AX to ensure that any changes made to the system (customer accounts, item numbers, etc.) are captured and both repositories are synchronized. Changes made in the system at the field or data levels prior to that synchronization will introduce transaction errors that ultimately result in chargebacks. Changes made within AX require redistribution and recompilation, increasing the risk of data not being synchronized correctly. Accellos integration occurs at a level deeper than the web-service layer, which not only allows the application to reuse all of the same business logic that the service layer uses but also provides a mechanism for maintaining on-the-fly updates to the application that tie directly to standard or custom business processes. Being tightly coupled with the Microsoft Dynamics AX base classes allows Accellos integration to incorporate, in real time, any changes made to business rules in the AX system. Because Accellos solution relies on data native to Microsoft Dynamics AX, no synchronization is required. Improved EDI Throughput and Reliable Performance Accellos EDI solution is designed so that regardless of a customer s transaction volume or the complexity of business rules required, speed and performance remain consistent. Solutions that rely on synchronous data transfer via web services can experience significant performance issues when transaction volume is large, due to the linear nature of web transactions. Customers may not be able to predict their volumes or may experience fluctuations, which can inhibit daily performance. Accellos tests performance times by simulating transactional volumes typical of mid-market and enterprise businesses on one AOS application server. Performance is often impacted due to the load thresholds the AOS application server can handle. Accellos integration strategy to bypass AIF web services enables AX users to easily manage the EDI load variances on any given AOS server. Load balancing capabilities greatly improved performance times and offered the most flexibility for AX users. Reduced Implementation Cost Structure Because Accellos highly flexible EDI solution was built specifically for Dynamics AX and is embedded within the ERP, implementations are repeatable and predictable. Accellos turnkey EDI solution combined with extensive experience with Dynamics AX and EDI expertise results in a lower risk EDI strategy for AX users, reduced budget for implementation and the lowest total cost of ownership for your EDI requirements.

5 Market Proven Approach Accellos conducted ongoing research with Microsoft Dynamics AX users to explore common pain points related to EDI management so that Accellos could ensure our EDI solution addressed or improved EDI processing for AX users. Both the AX community and our customer community identified the following benefits as unique results of Accellos approach to managing EDI for Dynamics AX: Improved functionality to streamline EDI processing and employee workflows due to working inside of AX versus 3rd party applications Advanced business rules and automation enables the automation EDI document workflows and empowers our customers to manage exceptional scenarios Reduced effort and cost for partners and implementation specialists working with Accellos EDI solution Ability to rapidly onboard new business partners with Accellos pre-certified trading partner document maps and compliance labels Improved ability to adapt our solution to specific Microsoft Dynamics AX requirements Predictable and scalable cost model for AX due to Accellos fixed fee implementation budgets and unlimited trading partner option that caps costs as additional trading partners are on boarded ABOUT ACCELLOS Accellos is a global provider of software solutions specifically designed for the unique needs of logistics service providers and midsized businesses. Over 4,000 companies trust Accellos to be the technology backbone of their global supply chains. Accellos provides solutions for warehouse management systems (WMS), third party logistics (3PL), fleet management, transportation management systems (TMS), electronic data interchange (EDI), retail store operations, automated barcode data collection, parcel shipping, transportation optimization and supply chain business intelligence. Accellos solutions are built on the AccellosOne platform, a modern technology platform featuring a user-friendly interface and simplified technical administration. For more information, or visit FOR MORE INFORMATION: or visit Accellos, Inc. Optimizing EDI for Microsoft Dynamics AX

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