Don’t be surprised with the amount of work involved in onboarding and testing your solution and the underlying data with your trading partner. When you initially receive the data from your partner, it could be in any format – EDI, XML, Flat File, etc. This is your first opportunity to take a look at the data and make an honest determination of how much effort is going to be involved in onboarding and testing this partner. If the data is delivered in a format that you have worked with before, and matches compliance (which is not always the case with an 837 from a partner!), then you are off to a good start – but then you will need to assess whether all of the data your system requires is available. Working with the data and doing solid analysis on the complexity of working with it is a critical first step when first working with a new partner.
Once you have done the initial development, then you step into the true testing cycle. Your development cycle may only require a week to work through, but your testing cycle can easily extend the time period to move a partner into production by weeks (or months!). As you exchange data back and forth and hammer out the details of data that is “production ready”, you’ll likely find that additional requirements crop up, or unexpected data exceptions come out. We’ll look at specific testing scenarios and likely issues that will pop up in later discussions, but the most important thing to remember is that trading partner testing (and the initial analysis of the data you will be receiving) can be a significant portion of the overall project. Be careful with your time estimations in communications with the trading partner, internal sales representatives, internal management, and especially with yourself!