The first step in onboarding a new trading partner that will be delivering inbound data to your organization is the review and validation of their inbound data.  The moment you identify a trading partner that will be delivering data to you, request some sample data from them.  Through analysis of this data, you will be able to determine what resourcing, timeline, and development will likely be needed in order to onboard the partner.

A trading partner may be delivering data in true EDI format (such as an 837), or in a proprietary format (CSV, XML, ECSIF, etc.), and it is critical to review this data as early in the onboarding process as possible.  You will need to identify what level of work will be required to map this inbound data to a format that will work within your system.  Even in cases where the trading partner will be delivering data in (for example) 837 5010 format, and your processes already accept this same format from other trading partners, there will still likely be inconsistencies in the data that will prevent you from simply accepting the data and processing it.  Different organizations model their data differently, populate their EDI documents differently, and require different fields and structures.  What your organization may need will likely differ from what the trading partner will – by default – be delivering.

Many organizations try to come up with a “standard timeline” for onboarding new partners – but what you will find is that every integration is unique, and while some trading partners may be able to be onboarded in a very short time, others will require a tremendous amount of development and testing in order to be ready for a production environment.  The sooner you can review their data, the sooner you will be able to give an accurate estimate for the effort required to onboard them.

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