Saturday 18 July 2009

About EDI and data quality

Missing data and lost messages are a natural phenomenon that occurs throughout each enterprise
Nothing to worry about really, as it's only human and so are applications themselves, as they're humanly-specced and -built after all

However, integrating applications like these causes a painfully clear visibility of these errors on the enterprise level, showing their significance as a whole:

Let's say that each application has an average fault percentage of 0.5%. When that application is connected to another one, it will thus foobar 0.5% of the messages causing additional work in the (usually central) point
where both are connected. The same goes for the application it's connected to: one plus one makes two, and the effort to solve problems in the middle will double

Having connected 10 applications, there will be a good amount of work required to fix all the data- and message problems in the middle - albeit they don't originate in the middle of course, that's just the first place where they're noticed

We all know about the messenger of bad news. Well, that's how EDI (Integration in general) gets a bad name every now and then because the integration solution is perceived as being insufficient, whereas no automated system can handle invalid data on its own - other than generating an exception

What should be done about it? Fix it, of course. Fix the business applications because they're the very backbone of your company. Fix the way they put out data as trends are that they'll become a single point of truth in your future service-based Business Network. Also, fix the way data is input by making sure your business rules are still adequate enough to handle the way you do business. Today's trend is also that being able to apply business exceptions, rather than business rules, is where the strength of doing business lies. More and better and faster business requires easier and troublefree IT

EDI can help to make the flaws visible throughout your company. It will show you the data quality, or rather, exactly point out which applications just produce data, and which give you information. It will show how much of an application is able to independently operate - as integration operates without people and just produces the data that's in the system

EDI will also show you the fit of each application towards fulfilling business process needs. The interface or service that gives you the most trouble, is always one between applications that have a functionally bad match

More and more backend information is being wanted outside of a company. Make sure it's up-to-date, integer, and accurate. EDI will help verify!

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