About David Cranshaw

Dave has been supporting Epicor EDI implementations since 2007 and has a full understanding of both the standard transactions supported by the Epicor product, and due to his technical background has assisted with multiple non-standard transactions that require custom solutions to be built for unique industries. Dave also manages our internal development resources and high profile technical projects, and, as such, has had extensive experience managing Epicor projects over the last five years.


So, you just purchased a shiny new ERP, and are looking to roll out EDI.  You want to get started right away on your EDI project, right?   We should be able to set up data and test all transactions out of the box, right? WRONG!

EDI Project Best Practices

EDI is a customized, systemic process, that much like your data, rolls through the quote to cash cycle in a coordinated sequence.  Each EDI document requires data from an upstream process, and you must always complete, and validate,  the upstream processes first.    A common mistake we see on many EDI projects, is an expectation that EDI is plug and play, and that we can implement all documents simultaneously.  EDI is not plug and play, for the same reason that ERP implementations are not plug and play.

EDI trading partners are notorious for sending through erroneous or uniquely specific data.    Our customers all have different shipping and packaging scenarios.   Many customers have different expectations on how EDI data is to be handled.    The answer to a successful EDI implementation, is to work on each document until it is correct, until moving to the next one, and ensuring that the ERP system has been configured and validated for packaging and shipping processes prior to starting to work on outbound transactions.  EDI implementations always lag the ERP implementation by some weeks, and always last the duration of the design and validation stage of the implementation project.

Below are some typical EDI transactions, that must be managed, and processed sequentially.

Inbound Purchase Orders (850i), Demand Forecasts (830i), etc.

Many times, Trading Partners will send data that does not have a native home in ERP.  Our EDI team must carefully inspect all the inbound PO documents from all your trading partners, and understand for each file, which will be unique, whether there is a native home in Epicor, and if not, we create one for it, and make it visible in the ERP through customization.  This can take time, and for some trading partners, extensive customer part cross references must be built, so that Epicor ERP can understand what it is in fact that this customer is ordering.

Outbound Sales Acknowledgement (855o)

It is common to need to include custom trading partner data in an 855 outbound.  Until all of the inbound maps have been translated, and the data housed in Epicor, we can not start testing 855o.   This is normally not a difficult transaction, but until we have every inbound document defined and custom schema in place to accommodate your trading partners, we can not design the outbound format for this document for testing.

Outbound Packing Slip (856o)

Most customers expect us to be able to start this right away.  Some customers have even demanded that we start this right away.  The trouble is that everyone ships differently, and some people have multiple levels of packaging, at various points in their production process, that change how we build the dataset for the 850o.    Another common mistake our customers make are asking for the packing labels before the ASN is designed.

The shipping and packaging process must ALWAYS be designed first, and approved, before we start building 856o data and labels.  Typically the label would be the last thing we build, as we process through all the 850i for all trading partners, demonstrate all packaging scenarios for each, and then finally, armed with model data, we can construct the outbound ASN dataset and labels.  This is especially important when you have multiple versions of labels for different trading partners, or if you have Master Pallets, Mixed Pallets etc.    All EDI projects I have seen go over budget, or that have been frustrated, have been those where the company insists on having working outbound ASN’s before the shipping process is validated.

Outbound Invoices (810)

Typically the easiest of all, but these can not be started until a validated ASN document has been produced.  As such, we save these until the end of the project, to ensure all the data necessary on the invoice, whether from custom inbound data from the 850o, or custom packaging data from the 856o, are available.   Shipments in the system are required to invoice, so there needs to be a solid, unchanging process to generate multiple shipments for the inbound orders, such that they can be invoiced.  This data is typically not available until the last quarter of the implementation.

Listening to your expert EDI implementation consultant, understanding that EDI will slightly lag the work being done in ERP, and that the work will stretch the duration of the project, are key to a successful EDI implementation.  Following our process and methodology  and will minimize frustrations if expectations were that EDI would be ready day one, and reduce or eliminate rework for any EDI transactions forced through before the system is validated.

If you are having a difficult implementation and would like to talk to Encompass about how to put things back on track, we would be happy to conduct a mid ERP implementation review.   If you are about to start an EDI implementation, understanding the above before starting, and ensuring that the project manager and steering committee understand the timeline, will be critical to meeting expectations, and ultimately having a successful, error free cutover.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Re-implementing new software, or even upgrading a system to the latest version may seem like a risky endeavor to most IT executives – why put a company that is “working fine” under the stress of an upgrade?

Let’s look at the return on investment on moving from a typical legacy system, to a modern system like Epicor ERP 10.

A Forrester Total Economic Impact TM Study showed significant productivity savings in invoicing and sales tax administration, and general accounting productivity increases related to creating, processing, and reporting numerous accounting entries using the Epicor ERP 10 Financials (TEI Case Study).  Epicor’s Supply chain suite provided a 15% reduction in average inventory levels, a reduction in headcount, and avoided future hiring associated with supply chain activities.

an image of man considering the cost of doing nothing when it comes to ERP software implementation.

It’s time to upgrade your ERP software and the cost of doing nothing comes at a higher price.

Many people are happy with the software they already have because it just works.  But these people do not know what they are missing out on when they opt out of modern upgrades for their software. For example – in older versions of Epicor, finding data could require navigating through multiple screens, whereas Epicor ERP 10 enjoys the sophisticated Enterprise Search built in, which is like Google for your enterprise.

Laser equipment supplier Access Laser Company recently moved from cloud deployed Epicor ERP 10 to the new version and “The move has been a smooth transition and we are already leveraging the new functionality. We especially like the enhanced Enterprise Search function, which enables us to locate sales orders and other data quickly and easily,” said Andrew Chamberlain, an information technology specialist at Access Laser Company. 

The Cost Of Doing Nothing Comes At A High Price

Concerned about the expense of provisioning hardware for an upgrade?  Leveraging modern Microsoft technologies, deployment for Epicor ERP version 10 will require substantially less (50%) hardware cost compared to earlier Epicor versions, and, of course, the hardware is not needed with SaaS/cloud Epicor ERP.

Once your business is on the latest version of Epicor ERP, whether by implementing it, or upgrading to it, Epicor has made it easier and faster than ever before for customers to take advantage of new release functionality, as evidenced by the hundreds of customers that are already up and running on the newest version of Epicor ERP in the cloud and on premises.

Boers & Co. Fine Metalworking Group, a developer fine mechanical parts, high precision assembly, and sheet metal products, went live on Epicor ERP 10.1 via a process that ICT Manager Jos Greeve characterized as “easy” and “straightforward.”   

“I’d definitely advise customers to upgrade to the latest version of Epicor ERP,” Greeve said. Boers is leveraging new functionality including the powerful new integrated mobile dashboards, which Greeve says are working very well across all mobile devices with good speed and responsiveness, and which are giving Boers the ability to understand vital real-time answers to questions around the status of Jobs, Shipments, Orders, and Shop Floor operations.

Once on the latest release, customers can take advantage of frequent service packs to the software, and, in addition, the ongoing new functionality being added with each new release.  With Epicor’s latest 10.1 release, up to date users have access to more than 300 enhanced features that build on Epicor’s core strengths across key manufacturing and supply chain functionality such as: inventory and material management, purchasing, shipping and receiving, quality assurance, project management and job scheduling, sales and CRM, quoting and order management, to name a few. Chief among these enhancements are expanded global and compliance capabilities. Broadened global capabilities include expanded country-specific functionality to enable companies to operate seamlessly in their geographies of choice. 

“Epicor ERP is architected to flex to easily accommodate and support growth — whether that’s an expanded user base, more product lines, or a broader market or geographic range,” said Malcolm Fox, vice president, product marketing, Epicor. “By providing the right technology, world‐class services and support, and an unwavering focus on driving improved business outcomes, Epicor is helping its customers’ realize their full growth potential.” 

The Cost of Doing Nothing

So what is the cost of doing nothing?  Missing out on swift service packs that can remove day to day headaches. Passing on cutting-edge technology that reduces your hardware footprint (and expenditure) and increases performance.  Losing out on the new functionality your competitors are receiving that will allow your business to compete in today’s ever more challenging environment.

Now is the time for you to stop doing nothing. Encompass is the EPICOR solution your business needs to upgrade or install the tools necessary to stay competitive, cut costs, and increase efficiency. Give us a call today and let’s get started on your next big something!

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Excel continues to be such a key tool in business today, that Enterprises of all sizes – big and small – use it extensively. It is such a universally known tool that despite the sophistication of many other available programs, it is fair to say that Excel is very much at the heart of the workplace, particularly in Financial departments. The rub is that Financial data and other important metrics normally are held in your Company’s main IT system, ERP and Enterprise Management Database. So what if you could create and refresh reports in Microsoft® Office Excel®, combining ERP data with additional lookups and calculations to get the answers you need without the usual challenges of gathering source data and refreshing reports? This is where Epicor XL Connect comes into the picture.

An image of a tall building and the text "epicor xl connect".

Epicor XL Connect

The XL Connect solution is designed with pre-packaged content packs for Epicor ERP but is also available for other ERP Platforms. We have helped many customers implement this bridge between their enterprise source data and Excel.

With XL Connect, you can access real-time data from your ERP system with built-in functions that let you combine ERP data with non-ERP data, run lookups or calculations, and arrange and format data exactly as you want.

For the technical users, here’s what’s happening under the hood.

When you launch the XL Connect client, it reaches out to an Admin File Share. This is typically on a server, but technically it’s just a basic file share that can be copied anywhere.

When you drag in a function from the XL Connect tree view to your MS Excel spreadsheet, you are simply reaching out to an SSRS Report Server to grab the corresponding XL Connect report, and then pulling in data from your data source, which could be for example an Epicor database, so that you can populate the report in your spreadsheet.

XL Connect can be licensed for users who can run drill-downs, and also for developers who can build advanced, cross-platform queries that can be run directly from Microsoft Excel.

For more information about XL Connect please click here. We are happy to help!

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Database Health Check: Epicor Data Scrubber Utility

It’s good practice to check that your database health is at an appropriate level on a periodic basis. Over time, it’s possible to build up orphaned records, detail records that contain values that do not total to summary records, and other things that can cause performance and data integrity issues.

As long as you are current on maintenance, Epicor supply a tool that lets you check that your database is in tip-top condition, and will provide programs to resolve any issues that are uncovered. This is recommended not only before an upgrade to ensure things go smoothly but on a periodic basis for optimal database health.

The data scrubber utility is a collection of commonly applied data fixes, which the support technical team has gathered together into a package to do a “health check” of a customer’s system. They are continuously adding to it as they find additional opportunities.

The process:

  • The customer would log an issue requesting from support, we can do this under our customer’s site ID
    or Run the program against the database of choice
  • Each sub-routine will stop when it finds an invalid record and create an entry in a log file, then move on to the next routine (no tracking of the specific errors at this point)
  • Generates a log file which gets sent back to support.  Support will then send the relevant fix programs back to the customer
  • The customer runs each fix program, which will show all the relevant records and provide a chance to fix all, some or none of the records. This gives the customer enough information to troubleshoot the cause of the data problem and to fix it at source

This collection of assessment algorithms is new in the last few months, but the ‘fix it’ programs have been available individually for some time now.

An assessment should be considered as a maintenance routine and should be run for database health for all customers periodically, anyone going through a Business Process Review and anyone considering an Upgrade.

We will consider using this utility to get ahead of any E10 upgrades for database health and troubleshooting. We want to ensure that our customers upgrade with ‘good’ data. For larger databases, it may take a good couple of days, but it is really worth it!

The utility was discussed in several sessions at Epicor’s Insights 2015, so many of our customers will have heard about it and maybe asking themselves questions.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Where To Begin With the Transition To ERP

Few things strike fear deeper into the hearts of people more than change. It doesn’t matter if they know the change will be good—“This system has never worked for us and a new, better one will improve our business,”—or bad—“We need to expand beyond our current system and it’s going to be very expensive and time-consuming.”—it’s still just changing. That means the whisper of the unknown growing louder and louder into a yell of “STOP!” Here’s what you can do to prepare for the transition to ERP.

Of course, the rest of the world isn’t stopping, no matter how loudly you ask it to. Your growing need to expand or improve will only keep you behind the rest of your industry if you don’t get to changing and leaving your legacy system behind. You can’t do too much planning or preparation before the transition, so the sooner you start the smoother your change will be. Here’s a general idea of what you can look forward to.

an image of making the transition to ERP

Examine Needs and Appropriate Software

First things first, ask yourself is the transition to ERP appropriate for you? The larger and more intricate a company is will increase the need for the cohesive organization and company-wide integration. Alternatively, a smaller company may do just fine with standard office software combined with strict processes and organization. Since you’re reading this on our website, we’re guessing you’re going beyond simple and have kicked around the idea of a transition to ERP territory. While we stand by Epicor as a flexible and robust system that can become a tool for any company, you owe it to your company to consider all options available (before you come back to us, of course).

Get Everyone on Board

Many business decisions are unilateral, but when it comes to the software that every one of your employees will be using every day, all day, you’re going to need their opinions. You’ll also need the backing of all of the shareholders as well, and to be blunt, the relationship between the software vendor and the people paying for its implementation can be quite rocky. Many of these partnerships are mediated by a third party project manager, and they can help the shareholders understand the scale of implementation—which can be expensive and take years to complete—and the software developers understand the specific needs of the company, often through employee feedback which a third party can keep anonymous.

Define Goals and Channels of Communication

Now that everyone is ready to move forward, it is time to define exactly where everyone will be moving to and when they should be there. The software vendor will need to work with the company on tempering realistic dates and achievable goals, and the company will need to work with the software vendor on providing information and process transparency, as well as ensuring employees are receptive and ready to be trained. Establishing clear avenues of communication between the project management, the company executives, employees, software vendor, and engineers are of paramount importance.

Expect Chaos

Everyone will be putting forth their best efforts to be clear and concise, to meet deadlines and goals. And despite everyone’s intentions and efforts, things will probably go wrong. It’s stressful and upsetting and the urge to point fingers and yell is going to grow, but it’s important to maintain some perspective: your company is being taken apart and put back together and when it’s over, it won’t look or work the same. It’s a major invasive surgery, it’s a complete overhaul. Be prepared to roll with the punches: the pain won’t last long!

Eliminate all Aspects of the Legacy

No matter how well a preexisting system might have worked beforehand, it has no place in a brand-new ERP system. Information needs to be transferred or archived and every aspect of its usability needs to be transferred to the new system. Having an old system remaining open or employees creating informal workarounds defeats the purpose of an ERP. The solution to any problem should never be having redundant systems, duplicating data entry, or wasting time reconciling the two differing systems. The company needs to make sure all employees are ready for the transition and have hopefully been listening to employee input so that the form and function of the system work for them.

Training, Responsibility, and Refinement

As the system creation and installation draws to a close, the team should look back on their progress and realize how far they’ve come in building and implementing the new system. If everyone has done their part they should feel a sense of ownership in the ERP system and this positive feeling will aid in the training and maintaining of the new system. This extends to the software vendor and the engineers as well, who will be providing a lifetime of IT support and will be aiding in the modification and refinement of systems in the future. Like any system, your ERP will work for you right out of the gate but as it is used over the months, your company will discover the parts that work better than others and processes that can be made more efficient with tweaking.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.