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EDI Modernization Strategy: Five Decision Factors (Part 1)

Introduction: blog post is the first part of a series highlighting the five decision factors needed for EDI modernization strategy.

Understanding EDI Modernization

EDI (electronic data interchange) has been a data transfer method used to standardize message formatting by businesses for several years. One of the newer considerations coming into play, however, is EDI modernization, which extends B2B integration and automation capabilities beyond classic EDI to support modern business requirements.

Companies are changing the way they connect, automate business processes and exchange data, all which are evident in modern B2B integration. Its value is in expanding integration capabilities while reducing cost and complexity of partner onboarding and operations. On the other hand, classic EDI still remains essential, but is unable to fully provide modern B2B integration needs.

For this reason, there are some points to consider if EDI remains right for your business, or if you need additional functionality EDI modernization provides. Some key questions to ask whether it’s time for EDI modernization are:

  • How do a business’s value network and role drive B2B integration priorities?
  • What additional requirements apply to businesses that are large, fast-growing, or complex?
  • How can integration capabilities and assets be leveraged to increase value?
  • What factors apply when deciding whether to outsource infrastructure, trading partner onboarding, operations, and / or other services, or source them in house?
  • What strategies and trade-offs apply when adopting a new B2B integration solution?

In answering the above questions, understanding and prioritizing modernization objectives will enable businesses to create a strategy then execute it.

The figure below explains how features from traditional EDI differ from EDI modernization.

Figure 1

Modern B2B integration adds capabilities (black/dark text) that extend Classic EDI (red/light text).

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Integration Keeps You Competitive through Faster Transactions and Visibility

Increased Process Efficiency and Reduced Latency
The elimination of redundant manual tasks and inefficient processes results in increased efficiency and reduced latency. With a revenue-sensitive set of business processes, such as order to cash processes – where time is literally money, it’s crucial to take latency out of processes. Efficient business integration enables the fast turnaround of orders, invoices, payments and other documents that are involved in the order to cash cycle.

Read More: Accelerate your Business

Error Reduction and Quality Improvement
Business integration allows organizations to automate systems, implement automated validations and look-ups, and provide on-demand visibility. This ensures accuracy of the information, introducing higher levels of quality and a lower level of errors.

Read More: Integrate Everywhere without Coding Continue reading

Podcast: Replacing Legacy EDI Systems (Run time: 14:45)

I recently sat down to interview Nahid Jilovec on the subject of her recent white paper, “Replacing Legacy EDI Systems“. In this brief (less than 15 minute) podcast, Nahid reviews the business drivers and technical advances that are motivating companies to extend or replace their aging EDI infrastructures. She also identifies the main implementation strategies available, summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of legacy replacement, and makes a strong case for strategic consideration of future business integration needs.

If you haven’t yet read Nahid’s paper, or are looking for a condensed overview of this topic that you can send to a colleague, click here to listen, or right-click on the link to download this informative interview to your MP3 player.

And if you’d like to suggest a business integration topic for a future EXTOL podcast, just reply to this post or drop us a line at

EXTOL Insider’s Tips from the Technical Support Center – May 2012

EXTOL Business Integrator (EBI)

Question: Is there a quick and easy way to see if the Regular Expression I just created will work in my EBI Adapters?

Answer: Yes, through the use of the Regular Expression Evaluation Utility. The Regular Expression Evaluation Utility was designed to be a time-saving device for testing Regular Expressions. The Regular Expression Evaluation Utility can be found in the EBI “Workbench” Tab under the “Utilities” group. To use the Regular Expression Evaluation Utility, simply type in your Regular Expression in the text box provided to you at the top of the Utility window. Next, click on the green plus (+) button (on the bottom left of the screen) to add the value you wish to evaluate. Once you put in your values you wish to test, click the “Evaluate” button (top right side of your screen). This will now test to see if your provided values match your Regular Expression (giving you a “True” value under the “Matches” column) or if the values do not match your Regular Expression (giving you a “False” Value.) You can also use this utility to see what would happen if you wanted to use the replacement feature using Regular Expressions (by selecting the “Replacement” tab inside of the Utility window).

The following are a few common Regular Expressions syntaxes:

\d (Any character that is a digit between 0 and 9)
+ (One or more times)
.* (Any character, zero or more times)
\. (The literal value of period)”

EXTOL EDI Integrator for i (EEI)

Question: How should HL segments be setup for an outbound 856 document?

Answer: You can create an HL segment for each hierarchical level – for example when doing Shipment, Tare, Order, and Item. You would setup 4 HL segments. Then, do a change on the first HL segment and in the Segment ID qualifier code field enter an H in the first position and press enter. In the HL ID qual field, enter S (shipment) and also make the segment optional. Each of the other HL should be qualified the same way by T (Tare), O (Order) and I (Item) respectively. These segments should be set to N occurring and optional.

HL 1 Hierarchical Level         O H           S
HL 2N Hierarchical Level      O H           T
HL 3N Hierarchical Level      O H           O
HL 4N Hierarchical Level      O H            I

The first HL should be mapped as follows:
1 1 628 M AN Hierarchical ID Number S0
3 1 735 M ID S Hierarchical Level Code C1 S

The second HL should be mapped as follows:
1 1 628 M R Hierarchical ID Number S0
2 1 734 O AN Hierarchical Parent ID Nu S0
3 1 735 M ID S Hierarchical Level Code C1 T

The third HL should be mapped as follows:
1 1 628 M R Hierarchical ID Number S0
2 1 734 O AN Hierarchical Parent ID Nu S0
3 1 735 M ID S Hierarchical Level Code C1 O

and the other HL’s should have appropriate constants defined in the 3rd element.

Note: We recommended that each Hierarchical Level have its own File/Format associated with it.

EXTOL Insider’s Tips from the Technical Support Center – April 2012

EXTOL Business Integrator (EBI)

Question: Is there a way to pull a value from my Ruleset to use inside of my Business Process?

Answer: Yes, by using the “Context Point – Get Value” Task inside of your Business Process. You can pull a GlobalRoot Variable populated inside of the Middle Tree of your Ruleset by passing the “Target Context Storage Node” of your “Execute Transformation – Single Output” Task into the “Context Storage Node” of the “Context Point – Get Value” Task and passing it a Constant of the exact GlobalRoot Variable name (ex: glb.var.Value01) into the “Variable Name”. The resulting “Variable Value” is perfect for getting a String value to use inside of a “Send Email” task or in an Adapter.

EXTOL EDI Integrator for i (EEI)

Question: Is there a way to subtract 10 days from transmitted date and enter the new value into application file field?

Answer: Yes, map the EDI element containing the date to the Application file field and attach the code table ADDDAYS.

From the message class field map details screen, in the Code translation direction enter ” I ” for inbound, in the Code table reference enter ADDDAYS and in the Qual type/data enter C / ZMDZMD10-.

This will take the incoming date in ZMD format, subtract 10 days from it, and convert it back to the same date format minus the 10 days and populate the field with the value.