Wednesday, October 25, 2006

EDI System Components

An EDI system consists of all of the components necessary to exchange EDI transactions with trading partners who are EDI capable. The major components are EDI translation software, user or system interfaces, hardware, maps, EDI guides, a communication network and EDI experienced personnel. A company that wants to be EDI capable will have to either buy the components or outsource all of the EDI system components to a third party.

EDI transactions are very compact and difficult to read and manipulate. EDI translation software provides the ability to translate EDI data into a file format that can be interfaced with a company’s in-house systems or translated into forms that can be used by users.

EDI translation software supports the development and maintenance of maps. Maps are required to manipulate each transaction type. Every transaction type with every partner will be formatted differently. The map translates the EDI transaction into a useable file format.

EDI guides are provided by EDI trading partners to communicate how each transaction type will be formatted. The EDI guides must be followed exactly in order to be EDI compliant with a particular EDI partner. The EDI guides are used to develop maps. Follow this link to see an example of an EDI guide.

Hardware is required to run EDI translation software. The computer hardware must be sufficiently powerful and reliable to support exchange of EDI transactions 24 X 7 in compliance with trading partners’ transmission schedules.

A communication network is necessary to send and receive EDI transactions. A company can elect to either communicate EDI transactions using a direct AS/2 connection to a trading partner if the trading supports such a connection, or communicate with trading partners using a VAN. A VAN is a third party network provider that is a communications intermediary with other trading partners.

And perhaps most importantly, expertise is required to implement each of the EDI system components and maintain each of the specific maps for all of a company’s EDI trading partners.