Cross-Training for Elder-Beerman and Bon-Ton Produces Recognition by e-Commerce Best Practices

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When Bon Ton purchased Elder-Beerman in 2003, the two companies' EDI environments had to be integrated. The Elder-Beerman and Bon Ton staffs worked together to develop a gap analysis to define the work plan. Bon Ton's Linda Heflin was awarded eC-BP.org's e-Commerce Best Practices Honorable Mention for the team's achievements and adherence to eC-BP's business tenets. eC-BP.org promotes the establishment of Best Practices in e-Commerce.

Bon Ton does not have an EDI mandate in place, yet it has 93% compliance from its suppliers. Many acquisitions are made based on expected reductions in effort and cost savings due to consolidation of systems and capitalizing on existing strengths of the combined companies. In the case of Bon Ton and Elder-Beerman, those goals have been met and exceeded.

According to Heflin, "The decision to use Elder-Beerman's EDI system was unusual because Elder-Beerman was the acquiree. "Having worked at Elder-Beerman, I knew the system well, but didn't know Bon Ton's business practices." Heflin worked closely with Bon Ton's Denise Dawson to combine their various understandings and create a roadmap to integrate the two companies' processes and systems.

"At times it seemed we were talking two different languages because of the difference in the nature of our businesses," says Heflin. "We concentrated on talking about the things the businesses had in common." Based on their discussions, the team developed an analysis of the differences that had to be bridged. Neither company wanted to give up any of the benefits it had put in place, and both did a lot of listening to the other's processes and procedures.

When the team started the planning process, it set a completion date and dubbed it "the Big Bang." The ambitious plan called for full implementation of the merged systems in 12 months. The acquisition was finalized in October 2003 and the initial conversions began in January 2004, with completion called for in January 2005.

A significant part of the plan was the rewriting of the new system's EDI data maps. According to Heflin, "The team did a good job. Mapping was planned and carried out accurately. In the process we lost nothing and gained everything." As part of the conversion, the 810 document that was already in place with Elder-Beerman, was added to Bon Ton's repertoire. "It was a big win."

eC-BP.org congratulates Linda Heflin and Bon Ton in receiving the 2005 e-Commerce Best Practices Honorable mention. eC-BP.org is now accepting applications for supporting memberships. For more information on supporting e-Commerce Best Practices, visit http://www.ec-bp.org
About eC-BP.org

eC-BP.org is a forum for discovering and promoting the Best Practices for e-Commerce. eC-BP.org Newsletter is distributed to those interested in understanding how their peer organizations are archiving their goals with regard to EDI. Free subscriptions are available at http://www.ec-bp.org.

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Scott Koegler