Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the structured electronic interchange of data between different computer systems and applications. This can involve financial, logistical or commercial data. This includes the electronic interchange of data such as:
- Orders/order confirmations
- Packaging slips
- Insurance claims
Importantly: this automation requires no human intervention. EDI creates encrypted documentation that is easy to read for applications.
The advantages of EDI
Companies use EDI in a fast and efficient way to do business with their trading partners and customers. This, of course, brings with it an array of benefits, including the following:
- Faster exchange of information
- Less chance of errors
- Less paperwork
- 24/7 availability
- A faster turnaround of orders
- Good stock management
In short, an increase in the level of service and, therefore, customer satisfaction. Not very surprising, that many businesses today prefer doing business electronically!
Types of Electronic Data Interchange
Companies that apply EDI can use different message formats. Some EDI documents are designed for certain sectors, while other message types are more generic in nature. In addition to the traditional EDI message formats, increasingly, XML or JSON messages are being used. The advantage of XML is that this format can be easily validated as a schedule (XSD) and can also easily be shown in a web browser. XML is more legible than traditional EDI, such as EDIFACT or X12.
Data can be exchanged in a variety of different ways. That’s why, in reality, there are different types of EDI that are used. This can be done through VANs, VPNs or standard protocols such as (S)FTP and EMAIL. Or it can be done via a synchronous approach, for example by using HTTP(S) (rest/web service) and AS2.
The synchronous approach is characteristic of the client/server model for interactive applications; ‘customer-to-business’ (C2B), to use e-commerce jargon. The opposite systems, asynchronous systems, are connectionless systems. As a result, the data traffic can be sent at any time.
There are various methods for data communication available for transporting posts. Whereas Value Added networks (Van’s) used to be used widely, the more frequently used approach now involves protocols that are based on internet technology (Transmission Control Protocol).
There are a number of steps and processes involved in implementing EDI. Structuring this in the right way prevents any problems further down the line. As an organisation, if you decide to start using EDI, choose a team dedicated to the communication with the EDI specialist. This, of course, also depends on the size of your organisation. Following this, you must look at the type of EDI solution that is most suited to your business. The right EDI system is viewed from 4 points of view, namely:
- the telecommunications medium
- an EDI translator
- the interface
- the application software
Then we can get started with the real work: the system configuration. Every organisation has its own requirements when it comes to the EDI platform. Integrating the system with the existing business applications is an important part of this. After the mapping (link) is ready and your EDI system is ready to go within your organisation, you will still need to test the system with specific trading partners to see whether or not the system works. This is known as a pilot, with a small group of trading partners.
Niklas provides the solution
Copernicus developed the Niklas Integration Platform with a view on the implementation of such an integration platform. This allows you to easily apply automated electronic information exchange as an organisation, with other organizations, as well as between different internal applications. Using Niklas you can integrate your back office with the systems of trading partners and customers. You can quickly and easily respond to changing conditions, new links and adjustments. In addition, you will fully understand the information flows, time and again. Niklas is the perfect basis for effective EDI! Not to mention: Niklas is affordable and scalable.
What does Niklas do?
The core functionality of Niklas is a transformation process, whereby, upon receipt, inbound electronic messages are converted to a message format that can be processed by the receiving systems. During the transformation process the messages are ‘mapped’ to another format, according to your own business rules. Missing data can be added (data enrichment) and format conversion takes place. Message traffic, error handling and statistics collection are also carried out and processed by Niklas.
Prefer to outsource EDI? Managed EDI is the solution
For organisations that don’t see EDI as a core competence, Copernicus has also developed ‘EDI as a service’: Managed EDI, based on Niklas. We develop the EDI links, which we manage for you and host in our own Niklas environment. We offer subscription-based Managed EDI, which is suitable for both large and small organisations.
So don’t wait any longer and get started with an EDI solution for your organisation!