EDI Is Not Rocket Science; Newspaper Association of America Executive Says Electronic Data Interchange Will Not Be a Daunting Task for Newspapers to Initiate

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Newspaper Association of America executive says Electronic Data Interchange will not be a daunting task for newspapers to initiate

TO THE UNINFORMED or newly initiated, Electronic Data Interchange implementation may seem a daunting task that involves complex terms and functions.

But at the recent Newspaper Association of America-sponsored EDI/Prepress Symposium in Orlando, John Iobst, director of advanced computer science at the NAA, assured attendees, "EDI is not rocket science!"

Seeking to reinforce the importance of EDI and its role in newspaper systems, Iobst said, "EDI is complicated but it doesn't require a lot of new skills that we don't already use at newspapers. It's managing the information that we're already managing but managing it electronically."

Getting started in an EDI program should be regarded as a new and more efficient way of conducting business, Iobst added.

"[EDI] insinuates itself within a newspaper and within a year or a year and a half, you'll feel like you've been doing it forever."

Some advice

For newspapers, planning for EDI implementation is critical in order not to be "blindsided" by unforeseen complications and problems, Iobst said.

When planning, there are a few different areas that newspapers should consider, he said. First, newspapers must select a value-added network. Because advertisers may use different systems, some newspapers will use multiple VANs.

Planning for EDI also should include translator selection, application migration, support systems and hardware, trading partner agreements, financial planning, resource allocation and a timetable, Iobst said.

Newspapers should work closely with advertisers to determine each other's needs.

"When we talk to advertisers," Iobst said, "there are three things they ask for: electronic purchase orders . . . electronic copy . . . and an electronic invoice."

Also, Iobst said, "Most advertisers that I've talked to are as interested in doing electronic remittance with newspapers as they are doing the rest of EDI." That's because "they are moving to as paperless an operation as they can."

Newspapers should keep in mind that "you are not alone" and open communication lines with "traditional vendors," he said. …