On the Line

On The Line - Mary Silva-Felker

Written by Scott Koegler
Published on Thursday, 31 May 2007

This issue of eC-BP.org's newsletter marks the launch of our new series, "On The Line." In this series, we will be talking with the people who make EDI systems run, and keep them running. Each interview is presented as a standard set of questions, but each person has the opportunity to answer the questions and expand on the topic. This format is similar to our "From the Top" series, interviews with executive management of EDI software and services providers.

EDI staff members are invited to review the questions and send in their own responses for publication.

 NameMary Silva - Felker 
Job Title  EDI Manager
 Company Anchor Blue Retail Group

Image What is your current job title and for how long have you held it?

Silva - Felker - EDI Manager 1 year

Image What was your previous job title?

Silva - Felker - EDI Manager - 7 years (I have been in EDI for over 20 years)

Image Describe how your career has progressed to your current position.

Silva - Felker - At first I was only setting up trading partners, we had our software company doing the maps. But I felt that I could save the company time and money because it took them 6 weeks to modify a map and lots of cash to do it. Management was ok with this concept and we had programmers write code where I could do the mapping myself. Within months I was modifying the maps, writing the maps, for 15 different offices and various manufactures and customers.

Image At what point in your career were you introduced to EDI, and what was your -

Silva - Felker - I was introduced to EDI in the early 90's. I was working for a food broker at the time, and they needed someone to figure out what EDI was about. I jumped in with both feet. Within a couple of years, I was involved with the UCC and various task forces. I was very active with the conferences and eventually began to co-chair the UCS side of the BI-Yearly conference. As co-chair we would determine what tracks we would like to present, we'd obtain speakers and work together with the VICS group to put on a great conference. As I said I was also very involved in many different task groups ranging from Broker Carbon copies to EDI over the Internet. I started at Anchor Blue three years ago, when they had 3 trading partners in production. 1 year later I had 350 vendors in production and within 2 years of starting we had 100% compliance with every vendor we do business with. At that time we had just two documents, the 850 and 856. Today we have 456 vendors in production, and 6 documents.

My initial perception of the technology was that it was like a puzzle and I loved it from the minute I started. I never feel that going to work is a pain or that I don't want to go into work, and to be honest sometimes I can't wait to get to work.... sounds sick maybe but I love my job and I love the company I work for.

I believe my greatest challenge was, knowing I had over 100 vendors in Asia where English was a second language and I was going to be implementing EDI with them. Technology in Asia is not like it is in America, I can't tell you how many times I hear "what is EDI, how do you spell it". It took me back to when I first started in EDI in the early 90's.

The change from VAN's to AS2 has been exciting for me. I was not sure what it would be like to have 400 vendors doing AS2 and not going through a VAN where I can call and say, "please reload my mailbox" but instead this would be either myself or my staff. AS2 has been extremely dependable and seldom do I ever have an issue that cannot be resolved quickly. I also think the software has gotten much much better, the mappers that are available today are user friendly and it doesn't take 6 weeks to write a map any more. This frees me up to be doing other things within the department.

Most of my interaction is still with our vendors, recently going to Asia and speaking to them about EDI, our requirements and how they can avoid chargebacks. It is amazing to me how people learn from just talking about EDI, asking questions and understanding the full value. I am not saying our Asia vendors understand the full value of EDI, but with my help one day I hope they do. As I explained to them, it does help all of us not just the retailers, because we move the product through the supply chain quicker which means the consumer buys the product and we reorder sooner. Prior to implementing Retek we were on a mainframe and it took 3 days from the time we received the product into the DC to the time the stores received it. Today with EDI and Retek, we can receive the product into the DC this morning and have it in our stores this afternoon. That is awesome !

When I am interacting with others on EDI, it is generally due to an error in the data, or a new vendor setup, and sometimes working with service providers to make their applications better for our vendors.

Image What advice would you give to people interested in pursuing a career with significant EDI involvement?

Silva - Felker - I would say go for it! It is fun, exciting, and never the same problem. I can not image having more fun at work.

Image How do you see your roll and the overall roll of EDI changing in the next three years?

Silva - Felker - More transactions, I hope that my personal role remains the same. I like to have some hands on because that's why I got into it. I love EDI and how it works, it is just fascinating to me. As well as training others vendors or people who work for me .

Image Any additional comments you would like to make?

Silva - Felker - One which I was not only proud of but it did help me to understand various businesses not just my own. In the late 90s I was also elected as a member of the UCS Standard Main Committee.

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On the Line

On the Line contains a series of interviews with the people who do the work of maintaining the supply chain, its transactions, and the processes that go into getting products from the manufacturer to the consumer. You will find video interviews, audio conversations, and written articles featuring the staff that gets the processes done.

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