Elliott Electric Supply Partners with IDEA Exchange Managed Services to Enhance EDI Operations and Business Performance

Case Study

When faced with the prospect of losing experience and institutional knowledge due to retirement of critical Electronic Document Interchange (EDI) resources, Elliott Electric Supply turned to IDEA to provide a turnkey EDI solution. Through a Managed Services engagement with IDEA, Elliott is able to refocus IT and other resources on the core competencies that have made the company a regional leader in the electrical distribution industry.

A Top Distributor with 170 locations and a Passion for Innovation

Ranked #9 on Electrical Wholesaling's Top 150 list, Elliott Electric Supply is a leading distributor of electrical and industrial automation supplies throughout the southern states. For more than 50 years, the company has met the diverse needs of customers in an array of business sectors, which include contracting, residential/commercial, industrial/MRO/OEM, institutional, and government. Elliott stays ahead of the competition by developing innovative technology that enables the company to better serve its customers and more effectively collaborate with manufacturers. 

[GBG-813-007] Exchange + Elliott Electric Supply (vertical)

In-House Staffing Challenges 

Elliott Electric Supply was facing a common challenge in the industry: a shortage of qualified EDI staff. Despite managing EDI internally for many years, the company was struggling to find a replacement for its one dedicated EDI staff member, whose retirement is on the horizon.

“EDI professionals are hard to find,” explained Phil Hale, Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Elliott Electric Supply. “It's a mature technology.”

EDI training programs—once abundant—are now as scarce as professionals dedicating their careers to managing EDI, he said.

Elliott's EDI operations include:

  • Interfacing with hundreds of suppliers and customers using EDI Pro Specifications
  • Automating with IDEA Exchange VAN, direct connects, and APIs
  • Supporting several EDI transaction sets, including purchase orders (850), invoices (810), and advance shipping notices (856)
  • Optimizing mapping infrastructure and maintenance

EDI is a critical business function in the quote-to-cash cycle, and Elliott needed a solution to continue managing it effectively.

How the Elliott Team Evaluated EDI Operations

Elliott evaluated three options: replacing their retiring staff and continuing to manage EDI in-house, hiring EDI contractors, or selecting a managed services provider.

To make a decision about the future of their EDI operations, Hale and his team dug deep into their current system, evaluating costs, company culture, and pain points.

They looked at what was working well and what needed to be fixed. They crunched the numbers to see how much it cost to maintain the system themselves vs. the cost of outsourcing to EDI managed services.

Elliott's team evaluated the in-house costs of software maintenance and upgrades, mapping optimization and updates, onboarding new trading partners, and ongoing recruiting, training, and staffing.

After evaluating each solution, Hale said that outsourcing EDI administration to a managed services provider made perfect sense. With IDEA EDI Managed Services, Elliott will gain:

  • EDI & ERP subject matter experts
  • EDI system support while freeing up employees to focus on B2B efforts
  • Trading partner compliance and onboarding
  • Resolutions for exceptions
“Why would I recommend IDEA? Because IDEA adds the most value to our organization. They provide excellent customer service and have existing relationships with our supplier and partner network.” Phil Hale, CIO at Elliott Electric Supply

Tapping into the Power of IDEA Exchange Managed Services

After deciding to pursue managed services, Elliott Electric Supply gathered several proposals. “When you're considering moving to managed services, it's important to understand your goals, costs, and pain points, Hale said. Understanding these elements allows you to quickly move to the proposal—and then decision-making—stages.

Elliott has been a customer of IDEA Exchange—the industry’s #1 VAN—since the early 2000s, so it made sense for Hale to include IDEA in the RFP process. After evaluating the proposals, Elliott selected IDEA as its managed service provider for its ease of doing business. 

“We already had a relationship with IDEA, but ultimately we chose IDEA for managed services because their proposal was customized to our needs. It wasn't one size fits all. IDEA tailored their managed services to what we wanted to accomplish—versus the other way around—and it fit within our budget.

—Phil Hale, CIO, Elliott Electric Supply

Through IDEA Exchange Managed Services, Elliott has an experienced EDI partner that can provide proactive monitoring of the EDI production environment for seamless integration and timely delivery to partners, including:

  • Daily EDI management
  • Software updates
  • Trading partner on-boarding and product mapping
  • A primary company contact and backup members

In addition, IDEA Exchange brings a modern B2B platform capable of growth as well as an in-depth understanding of Elliott's business, processing rules, and trading partner requirements.

By engaging IDEA Exchange Managed Services, Elliott is extending its team and gaining a nimble partner that can quickly respond to industry changes. As the transition to IDEA moves forward, Hale is satisfied with his team's selection of IDEA over other managed services vendors.

Our experience with IDEA Exchange Managed Services is shaping up to be the same excellent experience we've experienced over the years,” Hale said. “The IDEA team knows our business and the electrical industry, and we know we're in good hands.”

“We've been struggling for the last few years to grow our EDI team. A managed services provider, like IDEA Exchange, can apply their expertise and work with trading partners, which will allow us to work on other emerging technologies to handle future needs between suppliers, distributors and contractors.” Phil Hale, CIO, Elliott Electric Supply

About IDEA

IDEA has extensive experience in product data content and digital business. It’s our mission to make it easy for USERS to ENHANCE product content and EDI automation PROCESSES to become more competitive.

We can handle all your data needs, from product content to data syndication to EDI and data services. IDEA Pro Data Services can extend manufacturer data teams to enrich product data for SKUs in IDEA Connector, quickly launch new products, as well as provide ongoing maintenance.

  • 20+ Years of Experience
  • Professional Data Services Team
  • Industry-owned and Supported
  • Best in Class Customer Service
  • Distribution and Manufacturing Experience
Whatever strategy you choose, IDEA is here for you. We can help you navigate the complex world of e-business for optimal results.