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Implementing EDI

Getting Started

The commitment of senior management to embark on an EDI program must be obtained early. Then a review of your flow of information (paper, verbal, electronic) and data structure of application programs should be documented. Review should include:
  • What information is traded with business partners? Including format documents as well as informal documents such as messages, memos, phone calls, and faxes.
  • How and where is the information initiated - manual input, screen entry, or computer generated?
  • What is the internal flow of information? How many copies are produced, and in what form? Who receives copies? For what purposes? For how long are copies stored and in what form?
  • What control and reporting measures are used - status reporting, audit trails, security safeguards?
  • What specific information is needed for current application programs - form of data, flow between applications, entry of data?
  • What information is available from application programs? What results are produced? What is the form of the output?
Once this is accomplished changes that are necessary for EDI can be identified:
  • Addition of new data to the database to meet standards requirements
  • Use of tables to cross-reference part numbers with trading partners
  • Change in review or approval processes
  • Development of data link between application program and EDI translation software
  • Electronic linkages to the databases for department that formerly received manual reports
  • Need to bridge between applications if multiple departments use same information.

System Requirements

Some basic hardware and software is required to implement EDI, included are:
  • A computer - either your primary business computer or a PC
  • Communications equipment
  • Communications software - to handle sending and receiving data transmissions
  • EDI translation software - to format your data in the X12 or EDIFACT standard
  • Application software - to create or receive the data you are transmitting and interface to your in-house systems


Many of our partners and industry members also prefer using a VAN for the following reasons:
  • The VAN does all necessary communication protocol conversions to enable computers of different types to “talk” to each other. The VAN’s computer keeps track of each trading partner’s equipment characteristics and converts the protocol as required. A VAN offers a “store and forward” service. This allows anyone to initiate communication at any time of the day or night. Recipients call for their messages at their convenience. The accommodates their own computer equipment’s capabilities