Existing mappings make onboarding our customers easier, but the portal could be improved

What is our primary use case?

We use it for our EDI. 

It's primarily for receiving orders from some of our customers and we then issue invoices to those customers via EDI. We also dialogue with our logistics companies who will be shipping the orders to the customers. We send messages to our logistics companies telling them about new products or batch changes or an order which needs to be sent out to this customer by that date. That logistics company will then confirm back to us when they've done so and that kicks off another process, which is the invoice. It's end-to-end in a lot of ways.

How has it helped my organization?

It routes electronic messaging from other companies. The benefit of that is that there's no human intervention, so there is less opportunity for errors. That's in contrast to receiving something by fax and entering it. Here, it's going straight into your system.

SEEBURGER has all the maps for a lot of our customers, a relationship with many of them already. So the onboarding is relatively easy. That helps a lot.

We use SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) for getting orders from our customers, sending invoices out, and to have a dialogue with our warehouses. Using EDI means that there are more system-to-system interactions. That means that the people in our offices have more time to do more value-added activities, rather than just entering orders into the system.

We don't use it so that we can reduce headcount. It's more about being more efficient, adding more value to the business. Rather than sitting there mindlessly entering in orders, that is done automatically so we can use the resources elsewhere.

What is most valuable?

In terms of onboarding our new customers to create an EDI relationship, SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) is generally very good.

It just works. We get a monthly report from them so we can see how it's all operating. I keep an eye on that report, but it's just on a very high level. If there's any failure, we usually get some kind of email communication from them saying, "We had this downtime, some messages might not get through." We also have a portal that we can look at to see if our messages have transmitted successfully and been received successfully. We have people monitoring our messages and if there's anything that has failed then they're looking into why.

Our customers send us orders by EDI. When orders come in they go into our ERP system directly, so there is integration there.

Another very good feature is that when they're doing proactive maintenance, they always give us a lot of notice.

What needs improvement?

There might be some improvements they could make to the portal, but they're not anything that stops me from working.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been at the company for three years and we've be using it since then. I'm sure it was in use way before that as well, but I don't know the exact length of time.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It doesn't happen that often at all, but occasionally we get a message, such as this one from a few weeks ago: "SEEBURGER Cloud and Managed Services operation team has recognized a critical incident, which delayed the message processing within the SEEBURGER Cloud Service. We are handling this as Priority-One." But this was the first such message in a very long time.

I don't think there's a stability problem. I really don't tend to get many issues. The agreement we have with them is 99.5 percent uptime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

At the moment, it's doing what we want it to do. Going forward, once we start looking at our future, we might think about other things you might want to do with it. But at the moment it's serving our purposes.

We have hundreds of customers but we don't have EDI with hundreds of customers because those customers need to have the ability to do EDI too. 

EDI is a very good efficiency tool and there are always plans to increase its usage, but there's a cost involved with that. The cost isn't just the cost with SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS). There would potentially be changes to our ERP system. Each customer has its own requirements as well, so each onboarding of a customer is not a "vanilla" process or the same as it was with the previous customer.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is fine. We log a ticket and we get some kind of response back. It's different from what we used to have when we had a dedicated business partner who, if we had a problem, would be contacted first. They've changed their model in the last two or three years and there's now a service desk you contact and they handle it. It has gone from that very personal relationship to a more helpdesk-type of thing. And whilst that's not a massive issue if you've got all the backup of the paperwork and the history behind it, when we had that one dedicated person, that person knew pretty much everything about our system.

When I first joined, there was one business partner we dealt with regularly, and now it's that service desk. We have lost that personalization a little bit. There hasn't been a massive issue with having the service desk. And when there was that one, dedicated person, there would be a single point of failure. For example, if that person left then we'd lose all that knowledge anyway. So I understand what they're doing. But with a helpdesk, sometimes you have to explain a lot of things over and over again because they have different people dealing with different tickets.

While you might want that one person, you also need people with that technical background. The service desk provides that technical background. I understand where they're coming from, but I did enjoy that relationship and being able to pick up the phone to one person and say, "We're having this issue."

What was our ROI?

Return on investment for us on this is the greater efficiency.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

There is a standard agreement for the messaging every month. But if we make a change request — a change to a mapping or something like that — then there is a fixed price per hour. We get the quotes for those types of things from the service desk. We would then approve that quote before they started any work.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be to do it. But do not underestimate the time it will take to implement it. Just because SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) may have a map with a customer, it's not a, "Yep, switch it on," and it will automatically link up. When I first started working with EDI I had no clue about it. People said, "Yeah, it's fine. It works like this." But I hit a lot of stumbling blocks, primarily because what you have to do to satisfy your internal requirements and regulations may not match up with other companies' requirements. 

We are pharmaceutical company so we have to have a lot of testing, a lot of evidence, to prove that the messages we sent are received in the way we want them to be received. Whereas for some other companies, they just want to do one test and go live with it. So my advice is to be patient and try and work through all the stumbling blocks. It's not as easy as people think, but it can be done. Once it's done, it's easy, once you've gone live.

The biggest thing we've learned is that there are not many barriers to using it. Persevere with it. Although each customer is different, you can find a way around it. It might take some time, it might take some effort, but it can be done. That is the biggest lesson I've taken from it.

SEEBURGER was very helpful to me in bringing up my knowledge on this topic. I am grateful to them and they're always available. They are a good business partner for our company so, generally, I'm happy.

In terms of users, it's our IT department that monitors the EDI messages, so there are at least four or five people there who use SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS). And we have the people who get involved with any projects related to EDI, so that might be another three or four people. And there are probably some people in our manufacturing department, maybe another 12 people, who are actually looking at the messages. But some of those people would not be looking at the messages in the SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) portal. Only be the IT department does that. Other people look at the success or failure of messages in our ERP environment.

Regarding the fact that SEEBURGER invests a high proportion of revenue into R&D rather than promoting brand awareness, I don't really have any opinion on that. It's up to them, if that's what they want to do. For me, what's important is to make sure that my messages get through and there are no issues with my customers.

Overall, I would rate the solution at seven out of ten. We've lost a little bit of that personalization — someone who might know our business more. We're dealing with anybody in the service desk area. In terms of price, it's not massively cheaper. But I like that we've got an account manager. If I need to call him he's available. He gives me good information, so it's not like I've got no one to call. Overall, it does what it says on the box.

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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