Python Mercenaries

Terminal Labs and EDI

Terminal Labs is a boutique software and data consultancy. Ours is a reputation built over a decade as a team of experts adept at identifying and conquering complex problems. Our tailored process begins by listening intently to you. Combining what we hear from you with our business experience, Terminal Labs mobilizes its resources in Data Science, DevOps, Machine Learning and Python to analyze, strategize and ultimately execute on solving problems others many times avoid. Throughout we share thorough and honest assessments to ensure transparency and communication that is vital at all levels. At Terminal Labs, we want your problems.

The EDI world is full of problems. What should be a simple thing, often breaks, or is a long and challenging process to implement at all. EDI is often done in unreliable, or even verifiable ways, and often insecure. To alleviate some of the pain, VANs exist to be a single point of contact between trading partners, and take the pain of setting up new connections away. Except they mostly don’t. It’s common to need multiple VANs, and still end up directly connecting to some trading partners. When businesses attempt to establish a connection to a new trading partner, they, often regardless of whether that’s through a VAN, they need to hire dedicated staff to manage it, or consultant companies that exclusively do this kind of work, or both.


Terminal Labs is not that sort of consultant. We don’t exclusively work in EDI. We’re more skilled than that. We see the same problems the other consultants do, but we have the perspective of software developers and technologists who are accustomed to seeing all of the ways software can break, and fixing them while keeping clear communication with our customers about what is transpiring. We know that it’s insufficient to just “do the work” without communicating effectively about how the work is coming along in an honest and transparent way.

In our experience, most EDI consultants have poor communication, and questionable skill. And the technology they’re asked to work with is anything but robust. We have successfully delivered similar services as these consultants, but our customers come away with a positive reaction due to our superior communication, and because we deliver more stable solutions, and sometimes more quickly. The same can be said about interactions with VAN’s themselves!

VANs, Standards, and Protocols

EDI and EDIFACT are meant to be standards that are strictly adhered to, but in practice, there’s often deviation in their implementation across trading partners and VANs. VANs are meant to abstract away this problem by being pre-connected to various potential trading partners, but this strategy often fails to live up to its promise, and it’s likely that a particular VAN doesn’t connect to all of your hopeful trading partners anyway.

Too many EDI situations are unique, but often in ways that rhyme. Terminal Labs has direct experience with multiple VANs, including SPS Commerce, TrueCommerce, and OpenText, both EDI and EDIFACT (and poor implementations of both), and multiple transfer protocols, from email based EDI, to FTP/SFTP, to AS2.

Are you struggling with EDI? Do your current consultants just increase the frequency of your headaches? Give us a call.