Starting to use EDI means adapting your procedures and programs in areas such as invoicing, warehousing and accounting, to a new language and coding that most of the ERPs on the market do not cover. Why? The main reason is that it is a type of relationship that takes into account both the sender and receiver, while ERPs usually focus only and exclusively on organising the customer and not so much on the relationship between that customer and their commercial partners - customers and suppliers.
For this reason, four changes must be taken into account:
Firstly, an electronic document in keeping with the United Nations standard UN/EDIFACT must be generated. Is there any other standard in EDI relations? Yes, the exchange of XML documents is becoming increasingly common, but this is the most widely used one.
To transform the information that comes out of your ERP you need a service, either software or a station, that links to our internal computer and translates the information into the standard format while also connecting to your advanced EDI electronic mailbox. This adaptation and structuring to electronic language must be governed by the standard. Why UN/EDIFACT? Because UN/EDIFACT is used as the “Esperanto language” of commerce, administration and transport.
Secondly, in order to know that the product referred to is the exact one being sent and with the agreed characteristics, it must be unequivocally identified for both the sender and the receiver, and this is where we use EAN codes. Do you know where they are? On any product with a barcode.
Once the products and our company are identified globally, we need a communication network or channel through which to send the messages to the recipient. In this context Value Added Networks (VAN) are most commonly used.
Finally, you can start sending and receiving. Your company will interchange items such as orders, shipping notes or notifications (desadv) and electronic invoices (invoic) whose information can be checked through online access to the service or through your ERP (integration), preventing your company from having to change its way of working in order to take part in one of the largest business communities in the world.
EDI in the 21st century
The concept has evolved from its initial position, based on the EDIFACT standard and the value added networks, to a more open one where the use of new formats, documents, standards and protocols are compatible. Having an EDI service or software is no longer only possible when working on that basis, as it has transformed to offer a global electronic document interchange service where all participants are connected, regardless of the technology or standard used.