Aurora EDI Alliance Press ~ Volume 4 Issue 1 ~ February 24, 2015

Welcome Note

Welcome to the winter newsletter of 2015. In case this is your first newsletter, if you'd like to read previous issues, you can find them on our website here.  The Aurora EDI Alliance Press is a quarterly newsletter dedicated to current issues, events, education and newsworthy items surrounding both EDI technology and the Aurora EDI Alliance. We would welcome any feedback from our readers on how to improve it.  The Aurora EDI Alliance is a tightly knit group of U.S. companies and specializes in the implementation and maintenance of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) in a variety of industries.  We are recognized experts in EDI, and can provide consulting, system analysis, design, development and training services as well as software implementation services.

Athena for Suppliers: Features You Never Knew About

Many of our clients who use the Athena tool are surprised to learn about the many features available.  One thing I recently discovered myself is that you can download any EDI document into either EDI, XML or HTML, meaning you can then open it in Excel (CSV format).  This is a great feature especially for companies who receive the 830 Planning Schedule and the 852 Point of Sale documents.  Contact us if you'd like some more clarification on this feature.  

Another great tool that many clients are not aware of is the email alert feature.  You can set up alerts to email you when a new document is waiting and also set up a calendar reminder that will email you to get that ASN sent off.  

AND Athena is available in 12 different languages.  Never miss anything with Liaison's Athena solution!

Visibility Into Your Suppliers and Customers: Athena Community Manager

As a hub organization, can you imagine being able to see what's happening with your trading partner community at a glance?  Community Manager, Liaison's tool for hubs to manage their supplier community, uses a Software as a Service (SaaS) approach to allow hubs to monitor and manage their customer/supplier enablement programs.  Community Manager makes the process of outreach, onboarding, data validation, and monitoring much more fluid. Supplier enablement managers can monitor if a spoke is receiving and viewing received transactions without a phone call or e-mail. This changes the dialogue from, “Did you get my purchase order?” to "Hey Bessie Clothing Supplier, I see you have not reviewed PO #1234."  One of the most useful features is that you have the authority to move your suppliers from test to production status right within Community Manager.  You decide which documents to enable, what the message flow is and you have the ability to add or remove and edit trading partners.  

With a commitment to add a minimum number of suppliers within the first year, this tool comes at no additional cost to the hub!  Yes, you read that correctly.  The maps will need to be written of course, but this is a minimal investment for the impact of extending EDI and gaining visibility further into your global trading partner community.  Forget huge testing fees, forget long contracts...easing your suppliers into a well-built, low-cost solution that you have some control over is invaluable.  Convincing your suppliers to be EDI capable is tough and accomplishing that without damaging the relationship is a delicate process.  As a pair working for you, Community Manager and Athena can help you accomplish that goal.  If you would like to see a demo of either Athena or Community Manager, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Customer Spotlight

Pawsitively Gourmet, Inc. creates products and experiences that celebrate dogs.  Pawsitively Gourmet is one of the leading manufacturers of specialty, bakery-fresh dog cookies, treats and snacks.  They pride themselves on the craftsmanship that goes into every treat they bake and hand decorate.  Dogs love Pawsitively Gourmet biscuits which are available in great flavors like Peanut Butter & Cinnamon, Blueberry and Sweet Potato.  They use natural ingredients in their recipes and only use real peanut butter, sweet potato and blueberries.  Some of the adorable, charming designs of Pawsitively Gourmet’s dog cookies include squirrels, fire hydrants, flowers and footballs.  They produce dog treats that replicate pastries that you would find in your local bakery or grocery store as well as many more fun, dog-inspired treats including doughnuts, brownies, ice cream cones and pizza.  You can see their many designs by visiting their web site at www.pawsitivelygourmet.com or visiting their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pawsitivelygourmet Look for their products at pet retailers nationwide and major online retailers.

Art Douglas, EDI & Data Integration Guru, Joins the Aurora EDI Alliance

untitledWe are excited to announce a new addition to the Aurora EDI Alliance family. Art Douglas' start in this industry began in computer programming while in the armed services.  On the journey, he discovered he enjoyed designing, implementing, and improving information systems.  In 1997, after many years as a programmer, systems analyst, systems designer, and project leader, he was tapped by Nestlé USA to convert their EDI system from mainframe-based Gentran to Harbinger TLE.  He discovered his niche in the I.T. world.  In 2001 he joined a local manufacturing firm which had a desktop Premenos solution and soon thereafter converted their system to Softshare's (now Liaison Technologies) Delta/ECS.  Feeling that Delta/ECS was head-and-shoulders above TLE and the Premenos product, he became an evangelist for the Softshare suite.  When that company was sold and their EDI operation outsourced to Softshare, he resumed his consulting activities, concentrating on EDI.  Most recently, he was engaged by the Liaison Delivery Team as a contractor working with some of their largest clients in the areas of manufacturing, distribution, logistics, and medical enrollment/billing.  Art excels at reworking Delta/ECS installations to achieve efficiency and simplicity. He believes that ECS and Delta together are the best software products for EDI on the market.  He likes the mapping language, the business process flow control, the flexibility, and the bundling of virtually everything you need in one package.  We couldn't agree more!  We want to give Art a very warm welcome and are looking forward to working with him! 

LENS 2.2 Coming Soon

For all you VAN clients, we have something for you too!  We just received word that a new version of LENS is coming soon.  They are currently testing the Beta version so if you are a  LENS user and would like to be a part of that, click here.  Just a little trivia, LENS stands for Liaison Enterprise Navigation System, just in case anyone asks.  If you are not a LENS user and are interested in saving money on your VAN traffic, please contact us.  We guarantee to offer you the best rate the current market has to offer.  In most cases, we are able to save our clients an average of 50%!  

Who is the Aurora EDI Alliance?

For the next few newsletters, we will be doing short bios on each Aurora team member.  For this one, we are featuring Kristen Kearns, Manager of EDI Services.

Kristen_headshot_(2)Kristen Kearns, Aurora's Manager of EDI services, and I had a chance to chat recently and I learned some interesting things about our resident EDI "rock star," as many of our clients have called her.  She got her start in this field via a high school summer job that involved Basic programming.  This prompted her to take some programming classes throughout the rest of high school. After high school, she started a Computer Degree program at Bristol Community college.  She got lucky and landed a co-op program with a local company and they hired her full-time after she graduated with her Associate's Degree.  The year was 1987 and that's where she learned RPG programming - her career had started.

Some years later Kristen met Faith Lamprey, owner and president of Aurora Technologies, while working at at a client-site (her first taste of EDI).  Faith saw that Kristen would be an incredible asset to Aurora and hired her as soon as she could.  Kristen celebrated her 18th anniversary at Aurora in August of last year.  She gushes as she says that many people cannot say they LOVE their job, but 99.5% of the time she really really does!  When asked what she really loves, she says it's the aspect of multi-tasking -  working on several projects/clients at one time.  She likes being able to transform the data into something users can work with. Kristen is proud to report that she can currently work with three different EDI software packages.  She believes her clients would say she is responsive to their needs, whether it’s EDI-related or programming.  

On a more personal level, she has been married to her hubsand Tim for 19 years and they have 2 children, a daughter who started college last fall and a son who is a junior in high school.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and being involved with community theatre.  She's been acting on stage for four years with the Little Theatre of Fall River and some other area theatre groups.  Even if she's not in a show, the group is 100% volunteer based, so often she'll help with props, set building, concessions, etc.  Her last role was a nurse in “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” last March and she also performed in various dancing/singing roles in “Monty Python’s Spamalot” in May.  Who says you can't be creative and techy at the same time??? 

The Alliance's Latest and Greatest

We are off to a great 2015 so far having added two more Delta/ECS sites.  We attribute our success to always doing what is best for our clients, providing them with the highest level of expertise, even if that expertise comes from a third party.  Below are the newest clients who were sharp enough to choose the best EDI and data integration package on the market. 

Attain Med, Inc.
Nutraceutical Corporation

Blog Highlight:  What to Expect from a Software Demo

You have done your initial research, you've talked to several vendors and you've narrowed it down to a few packages, including Delta/ECS.  That means it's time for a demo.  As part of the investigation process, a demo is a great way to see the software, and your future support, in action.  Some demos show you exactly what you want to know, some are not on point.  So what makes a successful software demo?

First off, did the vendor ask what YOU wanted to see before the actual demo?  Did the vendor ask what you are doing now and what are you trying to accomplish?  What are your long-term plans?  What are your current pain points?  Maybe the software does a thousand ...read more.

Easy-Trade® Refund Policy

Easy-Trade® continues to be an invaluable tool for those companies who could not otherwise be EDI compliant.  Our customer base continues to grow now with just over 1,000 customers.  Occasionally, we do get requests to close an account so just as a reminder, the Easy-Trade® refund policy is that setup fees are non-refundable.  Easy-Trade® deposits are refundable only when requested within 60 days of receipt.  Please contact us if you have any questions.

Technical Terminology Time

CONTRL - Most of our clients are US based and I would bet many do not know there is a whole 'nother world of EDI across the ocean called EDIFACT.  They have their own EDI documents that are the equivalent of the US based ANSI X12 documents.  One such docuement is the CONTRL message.  CONTRL is the EDIFACT equivalent of the X12 997 Functional Acknowledgment.  This document is returned in response to every single EDI document sent, acknowledging receipt of the original document.

Winter Fun Facts

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Photo appears courtesy of Anthony DeLorenzo.

- At least one septillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) snow flakes fall from the sky each winter.  I would say more this winter!
- The biggest snowman ever built was in Bethel, ME in 1999, measuring 113 feet tall.
- Not one country in the Southern Hemisphere has neither hosted nor applied to host the Winter Olympic Games.
- Disney's Frozen, released in 2013, is the highest grossing animated musical film of all time, coming in at $1.097 billion.