Plegt Vos has a clear vision and continuously looks at where it wants to be in the future. The organization is constantly developing its IT country landscape. By digitizing message flows with suppliers and customers, another step has been taken in digitization. For this step, Plegt-Vos has developed the DICO connector together with the CAPE Group. As a result of this development, employees are only busy interpreting messages. The input, sending and validation of the messages is done thanks to the DICO connector and the use of the integration platform eMagiz, all automatically. This currently saves Plegt-Vos more than 10 hours a week. Since the number of messages is expected to only increase, the time savings will only increase in the future.
DICO: the standard in the construction industry for digital data exchange
What is DICO? An important step in the digitization of message flows between different companies is agreeing on the same set of message rules. This set of rules ensures that the messages can be read by all individual systems of the parties involved. In the construction industry, the DICO (Digital Communication) standard is used as a standard set of rules. The DICO standard provides companies in the construction sector with a fixed message format for order confirmations, packing slips, invoices, quotations, price lists, etc. It indicates, among other things, which fields are mandatory for the relevant messages and what the correct format/length of the field is. The exchange of messages between the various software systems of the parties involved is simpler and faster to set up by means of this standard, and mutual communication errors are therefore a thing of the past.
Implementation of digital message flows at Plegt-Vos
To digitize the message flows between collaborating companies, three components are needed:
A communication platform on which messages come in and from which messages are sent to different systems.
Using a reporting standard (such as the DICO standard).
Both parties must have a system that is sufficient to process data.
Has been since 2015 Plegt Vos a strategic partnership with CAPE Group in the field of IT and digitization. Realizing the communication platform was the first step in digitizing the message flows. This process started with several sessions, during which the most important functionalities of the platform were determined. eMagiz, the integration Platform as a Service (- iPaaS) meets these functionalities and is ideally suited for digitizing Plegt-Vos message flows. The project team devised the DICO connector to use the reporting standard. By building the DICO connector in eMagiz, all messages are digitized and validated immediately according to the correct message rules. The connector is built to validate the DICO005. With the possibility to easily optimize to future DICO versions.
All messages now first arrive at the DICO connector. After which the system then automatically validates them against the DICO standard and categorizes them based on the content. The connector then forwards the validated message to the correct system within Plegt-Vos' IT landscape. If the validation shows that a received message does not meet the standard, Plegt-Vos will receive an error message in eMagiz for the relevant message and the relevant incorrect field. At that point, the message is held in the DICO connector and does not go on to other applications. As a result, further processes are not disrupted and the exchange of messages is accelerated and the quality is improved.
DICO connector in the chain
Plegt-Vos uses the digital message flows for two directions in the chain collaboration. Both towards Plegt-Vos' suppliers, with regard to order requests, and towards its own customers, with regard to order requests, order confirmations, real-time order status and invoices.
Practical example DICO connector Plegt-Vos towards customers
Plegt-Vos works closely with various housing associations in the Netherlands. These housing corporations regularly request repairs from Plegt-Vos. For example, an application for a repair in a social rental home. Plegt-Vos BackOffice employees receive the repair request digitally. The DICO connector validates all fields of the repair request according to the DICO standard. For example, do the fields comply with the correct format and maximum number of characters? Have all mandatory fields been completed? The BackOffice employee no longer has to check the data and can immediately proceed to accepting the order and scheduling the engineer. It is then indicated in an app when the repair will be carried out and when the repair is ready. eMagiz ensures that the completed statuses are automatically sent to the housing associations via a message. Finally, the Plegt-Vos billing system automatically sends an invoice for the repairs to the housing corporations. Again possible because all billing data of the assignment and the housing corporation have been validated via the DICO connector.
Connecting customers and/or suppliers
Digitizing message flows for Plegt-Vos only works if the parties involved in the chain also work with systems that are capable of processing data. The implementation of the DICO connector therefore created a new challenge for Plegt-Vos: creating trust in the systems among external, collaborating parties. Thanks to the DICO connector, messaging is completely digitized, so that messages are checked by eMagiz and no longer by a person. This means that companies must have complete confidence that the systems, including eMagiz, will perform this task properly. Both Plegt-Vos and CAPE Groep noticed that this initially prevented other parties from making a switch to this digitization.
Sample messages are the solution
Confidence in the digitization, in the systems and in eMagiz has been increased by a simulation with sample messages. During these simulations, many possible scenarios were run through and various messages were sent back and forth on the test environment. This was used to gain joint experience and demonstrate that the systems work. In addition, this was an excellent opportunity to see within your own organization which systems already use the DICO standard well and where certain rules still needed to be tightened. eMagiz clearly indicates when a message is considered invalid and on which field an error is generated.
Acceleration in new collaboration
The biggest advantage for Plegt-Vos of the DICO connector is that new collaborations can be set up many times faster than before. It is no longer necessary to discuss how messages should look like, or which fields should or should not be supplied. After all, this is already established in the DICO standard. In addition, Plegt-Vos and the other party only need to exchange authentication data, after which the connection is set up.
4 advantages of digital message flows with the DICO standard
The DICO connector ensures a switch to the digitization of message flows at Plegt-Vos. This saves more than 10 hours per week for the BackOffice employees. Because they no longer need to enter and validate messages. Other benefits of the DICO connector and digital message flows with eMagiz are:
Set up collaborations faster. Connections with the systems of the companies in the chain in which Plegt-Vos operates are established more quickly, in particular because a lot of validation time is saved.
The scalability of message types. It is easy to add a new message type that is not currently used by Plegt-Vos. For example, Plegt-Vos is not yet receiving any invoices at the moment. If they want to realize this with DICO in the future, this will be easier than before. Because the message definitions are already established by DICO and are the same for everyone.
One generic endpoint. All messages arrive at Plegt-Vos at one end-point. Validating, identifying, categorizing and forwarding to the right system is now done from one place in the IT landscape.
Always automatically validated messages. The connector in eMagiz recognizes incomplete and invalid messages and does not forward them within the IT landscape. In addition, a clear error message is generated that the IT department can resolve.
Working together and constantly developing for the future
The cooperation between Plegt-Vos and CAPE Group has been very good for a number of years and the parties have already solved a large number of digital challenges together. Hennie Bulthuis, Project Manager ICT at Plegt-Vos, says the following about this: "What I find a great advantage about working with CAPE Group is that they think along and empathize with the DICO standard to get the solution generic."
With the implementation of the DICO connector and the eMagiz integration platform, Plegt-Vos has already taken major steps in the digitization of its communication processes. The next phase for Plegt-Vos is to expand the message types of the DICO connector, so that invoices from suppliers, among others, are automatically received by Plegt-Vos in the future. At the moment, invoices are only sent out by Plegt-Vos. In addition, more relations will apply the DICO standard in the future, so that Plegt-Vos can easily communicate with these relations via the standard. The big advantage of the DICO connector is that relations who have applied the standard can very easily be connected to Plegt-Vos (and vice versa).
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