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       Paul McTeigue Blog

  • EDI Explained
  • Stories From The Trenches
  • Bloopers and Out-Takes
Icefan Systemhouse Inc.
541 Wilson
Hudson, Quebec J0P 1H0

Phone: (514) 262-9591

EDI Explained.

New To EDI ? The Straight Story.

I am new to EDI and I do not have time to read long, boring articles. Can I ask you some questions?


What does EDI stand for ?

Electronic Data Interchange.

Could you give me a one-sentence definition ?

It is the exchange of common business documents like purchase orders and invoices using a standard format. The idea is that if one trading partner has already input data into a computer system then that data can be sent and easily understood by a trading partner.

That is two sentences.


What do I need to do EDI ?

Two software programs. A communications program to send and receive the data and a translator program to put that data where you want it.

What do you mean by where I want it ?

Simple. If you only exchange a couple of documents then you will just want to print them out. If you have lots of documents then you will want them to go directly into your internal application system.

Are these programs expensive ?

They can be, if you choose the wrong EDI supplier. Our communications software is free and our translator is tailored to precisely your needs. If your just getting started with one trading partner then you are looking at less than $1,000. If you need integration to your main system then that would be a few thousand more. This is because whether we integrate to ERP systems like Genius Manufacturing or Visual Manufacturing, or accounting software like Simply Accounting or Quickbooks, or any other main system, we need to properly implement, test, and train. We handle the complete range of requirements for all sizes of companies in all industries.

Stop bragging

Sorry again, but we have been installing EDI systems since 1991 and we absolutely hate it when we have to clean up an expensive mess. People are getting ripped off with six-figure EDI systems that also cost a fortune in maintenance and are very cumbersome to work with.

Calm down. I want to pick your brains some more. How do I get a hold of you ?

Just call us at (514) 262-9591 or send us an email:

Get in the fast lane.

The Day The Trucks Rolled - And Nearly My Head.

It was 1994 when Walmart entered Canada amid much fanfare; the biggest retailer! One of my clients was a pantyhose manufacturer called Sara Lee Hosiery. Sara Lee, being a rather large player with over 1,000 knitting machines, worked very hard to get the business and were overjoyed when they obtained a national contract to supply the new Canadian Walmart stores.

Icefan was tasked with setting up the EDI system that would electronically receive all of the store orders from Walmart and automatically integrate them into their internal order management system. Now, we had installed many EDI systems by this point, but Walmart had some unique requirements. Nevertheless, the first orders were received, produced, and shipped without a hitch.

Two weeks later another order was received and the people at Sara Lee were stunned. This new order was huge and exceeded all forecasts by miles. The sales manager was ecstatic, the production manager was aghast. They immediately added a third shift to production and worked around-the-clock.

They got everything done just in time to meet the delivery date and the trucks fanned out across the country. When the first truck arrived at a Walmart store, the store manager took one look at the tractor trailer filled to the brim with pantyhose and said, I did not order that. Get out of here!

Frantic telephone calls were then exchanged and it was determined that the order had been processed wrong at Sara Lee. The trucks were all told to return home. And I was immediately summoned to have a little chat with the President of Sara Lee. I told him I would get to the bottom of this and after some analysis discovered that our software had left a switch on that multiplied the quantities by ten. This was exactly correct for the original placing order but was exactly wrong for the replenishment orders !

Get in the fast lane.


I'll be covering all things IT with an emphasis on small and medium businesses. There will be lots on how to operate an effective IT strategy with a healthy dose of practical tips. EDI, Web development, mobile apps, e-commerce, systems integration, these will all factor in. I will also relay some personal, hopefully humorous anecdotes given my twenty-five years in the trenches. The plan is to add a blog entry every couple of weeks. We'll see how that turns out! Thanks for reading and do not hesitate to give us a shout.