Why Do Firms Use Electronic Data Interchange?

In the competitive business world that closely following technological developments have gained greater importance every day, the use of EDI has become almost a necessity. Firms who want to establish trading partnerships in the international market can perform business processes reliably and quickly through the EDI. Most organizations that want to standardize critical B2B transactions are already doing so with EDI. So, what are the advantages of EDI, which is widely used all over the world, to its users? Why should you use EDI? How can firms apply EDI to their business cycle? You can continue reading to get answers to all these questions.

What is EDI?

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) is a digital communication protocol used to exchange business documents between two or more organizations. It is used to transfer data such as purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices between companies. EDI is used to improve process efficiency, reduce costs, and improve customer relations.

Implementation of EDI

For some businesses, EDI can be difficult to implement. One reason is the need to keep up with changing government regulations, standards, and updates. It is also inherently complex as it must meet the complexities of global business needs. For example, each trading partner in a B2B network can present individual requirements. Although the two partners decide which EDI document to use, each may have unique formatting requirements that must be supported. These factors and others have led many organizations to outsource EDI solutions.

Whether on-premise or outsourced, there are some key requirements, capabilities, and resources required to effectively implement EDI. In addition to the agreement on the document types, secure transfer methods and factors such as necessary hardware and software, an effective EDI application should consider:

Translation or Mapping Software

This type of conversion software takes fields such as names, addresses, money amounts, part numbers, and amounts and maps them from business application formats to standardized documents and vice versa.

Mass Enveloping Capabilities

These capabilities support large batches of EDI messages by enabling senders and receivers to wrap and unpack transactions. Transactions may then be grouped or divided into several parts or areas of a trading partner's business.

Message Forwarding Mechanisms

Once the envelopes of a message have been opened, routing mechanisms are required for different groups to sort messages and deliver them to appropriate destinations. Message conversion may also be required to get the message into the correct format for the destination.

Trading Partner Agreements (TPA)

The TPA explains terms and conditions, sets standards for business documents, and defines communications and business protocols between trading partners.

Which Industries Use EDI?

Automating B2B Transactions

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is widely used to automate business-to-business (B2B) transactions, such as purchase orders and invoices, by exchanging standardized documents between two trading partners.

Automating Financial Transactions

EDI can be used to automate the exchange of financial information, such as payments and remittances, between trading partners.

Automating Logistics Transactions

EDI can be used to automate the exchange of logistics information, such as shipping notices, between trading partners.

Automating Health Care Transactions

EDI can be used to automate the exchange of health care information, such as claims and benefits, between trading partners.

Automating Insurance Transactions

EDI can be used to automate the exchange of insurance information, such as policies and claims, between trading partners.

Automating Government Transactions

EDI can be used to automate the exchange of government information, such as tax returns and applications, between trading partners.

Advantages of EDI to Users

Traditional B2B transactions such as purchasing order, sales order, invoice, pre-shipped retention, and functional approval are made up of many steps. Manually performing these transactions, many paper documents and operational workload brings along. When document exchanges between trading partners are carried out in a traditional way, human errors and heavy workload become inevitable. But with the use of EDI, paper documents are eliminated, and human intervention is minimized.

In short, EDI helps businesses improve the supply chain speed, accuracy, efficiency, and costs. We can list some of the advantages of EDI to their users as follows:

Faster Processing

  • EDI significantly speeds up business cycles.
  • EDI enables processing in minutes instead of days or weeks spent on mail or e-Mail communications.
  • Automating tasks performed using traditional methods – using paper – frees employees to devote time to more important tasks. EDI significantly increases staff productivity.
  • Accurate and fast transmission of business documents prevents inventory errors, cancellations and rework.
  • Automating inter-company data exchange enables timely sending and real-time monitoring of critical data.

Lower Costs

  • EDI enables businesses to save money by reducing transaction costs for paper, printing, storage, filing, mailing and document retrieval.
  • For buyers who process large numbers of transactions, using EDI can result in millions of dollars in annual savings due to early payment discounts.
  • In most cases, EDI is only 5% of the cost of manual order processing. The use of EDI reduces costs by 20 times.
  • EDI also eliminates costly errors caused by difficult-to-read faxes, lost orders, or incorrectly received phone orders.

More Accuracy, Less Error

  • EDI reduces erroneous transactions by 30-40 percent.
  • EDI eliminates the problems caused by illegible handwriting, lost mail, and keying errors.

Better Relationships

  • EDI can improve business partner transactions and relationships by reducing the time to cash out of orders by more than 20%.
  • Sellers can benefit from the rapid cashing of completed order transactions. Improved cash flow also brings well-planned order relationships.
  • Reducing errors saves valuable partners time and eliminates conflicts in handling data errors.

Strategic Benefits

  • EDI allows users to decide faster by providing real-time visibility on the operation status. It helps businesses that respond better to customer and market demands to adopt a request-based approach.
  • Buyers and suppliers enjoy shorter delivery times.
  • EDI provides a common business language worldwide, making it easy for companies to establish trading partnerships in new regions.

Environmental Benefits

  • EDI supports sustainability and prevents environmental pollution by replacing paper-based processes with electronic alternatives.
  • EDI reduces the errors, increases operational efficiency and leads to less energy waste.

How to Implement EDI with SAP Integration Suite?


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