Author Archives: John Coyle

Why Should Your Company Consider EDI?

Being somewhat of a concerned environmentalist, I think that helping save the planet for future generations should be the priority for everyone. One small step would be to switch your company to the ecologically friendly technology called “EDI” (Electronic Data Interchange).  Workers around the world discard millions of tons of office paper every year.  Producing this paper kills an innumerable amount of trees each year.  Converting this huge quantity of paper to an electronic form would help save paper and energy.  So think green: Reduce your carbon footprint by using less paper while saving money.

EDI would save your company money by providing an alternative to data streams that require a great deal of human interaction and costly materials.  Overhead costs will be reduced by eliminating such tasks as mailroom sorting, circulation, data entry, the manual reconciliation of different documents, document mailing, faxing of information, distributing, filing and storage of documents and transportation costs.  You will save money on paper, envelopes, business forms, stamps, printing and processing fees.   Excess inventory costs would be lowered by reducing inventory levels achieved by shortening the order processing cycle time.  Companies could save money by taking advantage of early payment discounts offered by vendors for quicker supply chain turnaround.  Other cost reductions would include the handling of errors and exceptions – this could be many times more expensive than correctly processing the document in the first place.

EDI improves customer satisfaction and strengthens supplier relations.  EDI improves customer satisfaction because information is available “real time” and is more accurate. Concerns and questions of customers can be addressed in a more timely fashion.  EDI will help strengthen relations with suppliers. The mutual work required to implement EDI tends to build a good working relationship between trading partners.  The sharing of EDI information strengthens the ties between partners and encourages stronger levels of commitment.

When information is copied from one location to another there is an opportunity for error.  Electronic data transfer eliminates the need for copying information from a paper document to another format, or re-keying it into your system.  Once the information is entered correctly, there is no additional opportunity for error since it is electronically entered into all other applications without further human intervention.

One very important advantage of EDI over paper documents is the speed in which the trading partner receives and enters the information into their system.  This greatly reduces cycle and turnaround times.  For this reason, EDI can be an important component of “Just-in-Time” production systems.  Better responses to customer concerns may lead to increased sales.  Transmitting data via EDI across the country or around the world will only take a few seconds or minutes as opposed to days, when sent through manual delivery service.  Once the data is received, the information is available immediately without any time-consuming human intervention.

EDI gives companies the ability to exchange business documents electronically via a wide array of communication protocols.  This form of e-commerce is widely used throughout the world.  EDI carries millions of dollars of transactions every day for all types of businesses and government agencies.  EDI plays a very important role in the world’s economic make-up.  Many companies will not do business with vendors that cannot exchange business documents through EDI.  (Good luck trying to do business with the big retailers without EDI.)

EDI has been available for decades.  It is reliable, proven, stable, and supported by long-established standards developed and maintained by respected governing bodies (such as ANSI, EDIFACT, and ISO…to name a few).  It is highly unlikely that this will change in this lifetime.  Being EDI-capable is no longer an option; it is a business necessity!

What Is EDI “Enveloping” All About?

The primary reasons for EDI “enveloping” are to manage EDI Interchange routing, and to enable your EDI system know how to process inbound transmissions (this also applies to the enveloping data you send to your trading partners). Your EDI software needs to know where a transaction (message) begins and ends. It also needs to determine which trading partner transmitted the data and what type of transactions were received, for example, Purchase Orders or Invoices.

When transmitting EDI data to trading partners, it is necessary to “wrap” the individual transactions using “envelopes”. There are various envelope types and each representing different levels.  Each “envelope” has one beginning and one ending segment that carries certain control information.  Continue reading

Integration Using External Tables

It is not uncommon to encounter situations where you need additional data that is not generally available either from your EDI application/interface (outbound) or from your trading partner (inbound).

Consider the situation where your trading partner sends purchase orders but omits the item descriptions…this item description being a necessary piece of information for processing the received orders.  One option is to require that your trading partner includes this description for each item on the order – good luck trying to persuade a buyer to accommodate your request.  Another option is to modify your application to eliminate this requirement – this may require a considerable amount of redevelopment.

The solution: Create an external table to host descriptions for each partner item that can be accessed during the translation process. Continue reading