How to Choose the Right EDI Standard for Your Business

A3Logics 16 Jun 2023

Electronic data interchange (EDI) using established standards allows businesses to efficiently exchange documents. It includes purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices with suppliers, customers, and partners in an automated way. However, with different EDI Standard formats available including X12, EDIFACT, RosettaNet, and XML-based standards, selecting the most suitable standard based on your business needs and requirements is critical. The right choice ensures seamless data compatibility, a higher degree of automation, and lower costs while the wrong pick introduces inefficiencies, complex data transformations, and higher risks.


In this blog, we will discuss in detail how to choose the EDI services and Standard that best meets your organization’s specific requirements. We will cover factors to consider during evaluation, the comprehensive selection process, best practices for successful implementation, and the significant returns and business benefits of adopting the optimal EDI Standard for your business processes and systems.


Commonly Used EDI Standards in The Industry

Businesses use electronic data interchange or EDI Standards to exchange data electronically. EDI Standard reduces paperwork and speeds up transactions between companies. Several EDI Standards are commonly used. X12 is a popular EDI Standard used mainly in the United States. The X12 standard covers various types of transactions like orders, invoices, shipping notices, and payments. Another commonly used EDI Standard is EDIFACT. It was developed by the United Nations and is used globally. EDIFACT is especially popular in Europe. 


The standard supports many business documents including purchase orders, invoices, customs declarations, and shipment notices. The RosettaNet standard is used mainly by information technology and electronics companies. It allows trading partners to exchange information related to inventory, order tracking, and logistics. Newer XML-based standards like ebXML and OAGIS are also gaining mainstream adoption. These standards define how data is tagged and packaged in XML format for automated exchange over the internet between organizations.


Comparison of Popular EDI Standards

There are several popular EDI Standards used across businesses for electronic data interchange. X12 is a North American EDI Standard developed and used mainly within the U.S. and Canada. In contrast, EDIFACT is an international standard developed by the United Nations and widely used outside North America. EDIFACT supports more types of transactions and is considered more flexible with ongoing enhancements. RosettaNet focuses specifically on the needs of IT hardware and software companies. It covers fewer documents but provides a more streamlined approach for the technology sector. XML-based standards like ebXML and OAGIS use XML syntax and internet protocols. They can be used for both B2B and B2C communications. 


XML standards offer quicker implementation and are easier to adapt for Internet and web-enabled exchanges. However, they may not be as robust as EDI service formats concerning security, authentication, and error checking. The ultimate choice of EDI Standard depends on the industries, geographies, and specific needs of trading businesses.


Importance of Selecting the Right EDI Standard

Choosing the correct EDI Standard for your business is critical. Different standards have varying capabilities and suitability for different needs. The wrong choice can cause problems.


The standard must work for your trading partners. If partners use a different standard, the exchange of data will be difficult. Compatibility is key. The standard should cover all transaction types you require. The limited scope can hamper business processes.


Implementation costs and timeframes vary between standards. Consider your budget and timelines. Error handling and security features differ. Some standards have better validation and security measures built-in.


Future compatibility matters. Pick an evolving standard that will meet your future data exchange needs. Compatibility, coverage of transactions, costs, security, and future compatibility are all important factors when choosing an EDI Standard. The right standard for your business speeds up electronic data interchange reduces risks and lowers costs through streamlined processes. It facilitates automation and integration with your IT systems.


Selecting an EDI Standard that matches your current and future requirements, has the features you need, and fits your partners’ standards ensures the highest business benefits.


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Benefits and Limitations of EDI Standard Standards

EDI Standards provide many benefits to businesses by enabling the electronic exchange of data between organizations.

Benefits of EDI Standards:

  • Faster Transactions: EDI Standard allows automatic data transfer between systems, speeding up buying, ordering, and payment processes with the help of top EDI providers.
  • Reduced Errors: Electronic data is more accurate than manual processing of documents. Error rates decline.
  • Lower Costs: Paperwork, data entry costs, and express deliveries are reduced.
  • Streamlined Processes: EDI Standard automates routine tasks, freeing staff for higher-value work. IT systems can directly exchange data.
  • Real-time Information: Partners receive information like order confirmations immediately, improving responsiveness.However, EDI Standards Also Have Some Limitations:
  • Higher Upfront Costs: EDI Standard requires setup and integration costs to link systems.
  • Limited Compatibility: Not all partners may use the same EDI Standard, requiring data transformation.
  • Need for IT Support: Ongoing technical support by EDI solution providers is required to manage the EDI Standard system and address issues.


Process of Choose the Right EDI Standard for Your Business


Choosing an EDI Standard that fits your business needs requires careful consideration and planning. Follow these steps to select the best EDI Standard:


  • Identify Your Requirements: Determine the types of documents you need to exchange, the scale of EDI Standard usage, and your integration goals. Consider both current and future needs.
  • Research EDI Standards: Learn about the capabilities, features, protocols, and costs of different EDI Standards. Compare their suitability for your requirements.
  • Understand Your Partners’ Standards: Find out which EDI Standards your trading partners currently use. Consider compatibility as a priority.
  • Evaluate Implementation Costs and Resources: Compare setup, training, and ongoing support costs of different EDI Standards. Ensure you have the IT resources to implement the systems.
  • Test Standards with Key Partners: Work with a representative set of partners to test connectivity and performance of potential EDI Standards in a sandbox environment.
  • Develop a Change Management Plan: Prepare your organization for the transition to a new EDI Standard with training and communications. Manage change effectively with the help of top EDI providers.
  • Monitor Performance Once Implemented: Track metrics like costs, error rates, transaction speeds, and partner satisfaction. Make improvements over time.

By following this comprehensive process, you can ensure the EDI Standard you select maximizes benefits for your organization through compatibility, automation, and streamlined business processes.


Key Factors to Consider in Choosing the Right EDI Standard for Your Business

  • Compatibility with Partners: The most important factor is whether your trading partners use the same EDI Standard. Data exchange will be difficult otherwise. Check which standards your major suppliers and customers currently use.
  • Coverage of Transactions: The standard should support all the document types you need to exchange, from purchase orders to invoices to customs documents. Consider both current and future transaction requirements.
  • Implementation Costs: Compare the upfront and ongoing costs of implementing different EDI Standards.
    Consider the costs of software, IT resources, training, and support. XML standards may be cheaper to implement.
  • Ease of Integration: Some standards integrate more easily with your existing IT systems while others require more customization. The easier the integration, the lower the costs and risks.
  • Security and Error Checking: Look at the security features built into each EDI Standard to protect data in transit. EDI solution providers can evaluate error detection and validation to minimize risks in EDI services.
  • Scalability and Flexibility: A flexible standard that can grow with your business is ideal. Consider change management capabilities and the potential for expanding usage over time.
  • Future Enhancements: An evolving standard with ongoing upgrades ensure your long-term requirements will be met in the future. Some EDI Standard formats are more static.
  • Industry Coverage: If you operate in specific industries, choose a standard that is widely used within that sector. Standards vary in their dominance across different verticals.
  • Readiness for Change: Evaluate how ready your business is to transition from current processes to an EDI Standard system. Change management efforts can reduce risks.

Compatibility, coverage, costs, controls, and change readiness are the crucial factors to weigh when selecting an EDI Standard that unlocks the greatest value for your organization through automation, efficiencies, and streamlined data exchanges. Evaluating partners, requirements, features, costs, and change implications will guide you to the optimal choice.


Popular EDI Standard Standards in Detail


Several EDI Standards are commonly used across businesses for electronic data interchange.


  1. X12 is a North American EDI Standard developed by EDI solution providers in 1979. It is widely used in the U.S. and Canada. X12 supports many transaction types like purchase orders, invoices, shipping notices, payments, and human resource documents. X12 uses ASCII text format.
  2. EDIFACT is an international EDI Standard created by the UN in the 1980s. It is primarily used outside of North America. EDIFACT has a broader scope, supporting more transaction types and custom documents. The standard is continually enhanced. It uses a syntax called Generalized Markup Language.
  3. RosettaNet is an EDI Standard developed by a consortium of IT and technology companies. It focuses specifically on the needs of the high-tech sector, covering electronic communications between hardware and software suppliers. RosettaNet uses PIDX XML.
  4. ebXML and OAGIS are modern XML-based EDI Standards. They define XML elements and attributes for packaging business data. XML makes implementation faster and easier. However, XML standards may lack the robustness, security, and validation of traditional EDI Standard formats.
  5. Traditional EDI Standard formats like X12 and EDIFACT tend to be more well-established and provide better error checking and security. However, they can be more complex and expensive to implement.
  6. XML-based EDI Standards offer quicker implementation, lower costs, and flexibility for Internet exchanges. But they require ongoing enhancement to match traditional formats.

The choice of EDI Standard depends on your specific business needs, the requirements of your trading partners, the industries you operate in, and your priorities around implementation difficulty, security, and reliability.


Implementing and Integrating the Chosen EDI Standard 

Once you have selected the appropriate EDI Standard for your business, the next step is to successfully implement and integrate it. This involves:


  • Purchasing EDI Standard Software: You will need software that supports the particular EDI Standard you have chosen. Evaluate options based on features, costs, and compatibility with your systems.
  • Mapping Data: You must map your internal data elements to the standard format so data can be exchanged accurately between your system and trading partners. This requires rigorous testing.
  • Configuring Security: Configure security features within the EDI Standard software like passwords, encryption, and digital signatures to protect data in transit.
  • Integrating with IT Systems: Integrate the EDI solutions with your internal IT systems like ERP, WMS, and CRM so data can flow seamlessly between partners and your applications.
  • Setting up Communication: Set up the appropriate communication protocol for data exchange, either as dedicated lines, through the Internet, or as a value-added network EDI service provider.
  • Testing with Partners: Extensively test the system end-to-end with each trading partner to identify and resolve issues before going live. EDI service providers can run tests over an extended period.
  • Training Staff: Train relevant employees on using the new EDI Standard system and processes. Provide secure access only to those who need it.
  • Managing Change: Manage the organizational and process changes resulting from EDI Standard implementation through communications, SOPs, and documentation.
  • Monitoring Performance: Once live, monitor key metrics like transaction processing speeds and error rates to identify areas for improvement by top EDI companies over time. Make enhancements regularly.

A proper implementation that follows these steps will ensure your chosen EDI Standard meets expectations in terms of compatibility, security, reliability, and performance. Regular monitoring and improvements will maximize the benefits and return on your EDI Standard investment.


Monitoring and managing the EDI Standard Process

After implementing an EDI Standard system, it is important to monitor and manage it properly to maximize benefits. This involves:


  • Tracking Key Metrics: Regularly track performance metrics like transaction volumes, processing speeds, downtime, and error rates. Benchmark against goals.
  • Analyzing Error Reports: Analyze error logs and reports from the EDI Standard software to identify recurring issues, especially with specific partners. Take corrective actions.
  • Reviewing Partner Transactions: Periodically review sample transactions with partners to ensure accuracy and compliance with the EDI Standard.
  • Conducting Audits: Conduct audits of the EDI Standard system, software, and processes at regular intervals. Identify and fix weaknesses.
  • Testing Disaster Recovery: Routinely test the disaster recovery plan for the EDI Standard system to ensure business continuity in case of failures.
  • Making Improvements: Make ongoing enhancements to the EDI Standard system, software, security and internal processes based on performance reviews, audits, and issues logged.
  • Training Users: Provide refresher training to EDI Standard users on reporting issues, best practices, new features, and processes.
  • Communicating with Partners: Maintain open communication channels with partners to promptly address problems, share best practices, and improve processes over time.

By closely monitoring key metrics, conducting regular audits and system testing, making data-driven improvements, and communicating effectively with partners, you can minimize risks, maximize the benefits of EDI Standard, and keep transactions running smoothly. Effective management is essential once your EDI Standard system goes live.


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Future-proofing Your EDI Standard Implementation


It is crucial to properly oversee and govern an EDI Standard system after implementation to maximize its benefits. This includes continuously tracking key indicators like the number of transactions, processing speeds, downtime periods, and error rates. These metrics should be benchmarked against goals. Thoroughly analyze error reports from the EDI Standard software to pinpoint recurring issues, especially with specific trading partners, and take corrective actions. Periodically audit sample transactions with business associates to ensure accuracy and standard compliance.


Routinely test the disaster recovery plan to guarantee continuity of operations in case of system failures. Make ongoing enhancements to the EDI Standard software, processes, and security based on performance reviews, audit findings, and logged issues. Provide refresher training to EDI Standard users regarding troubleshooting, best practices, new features, and processes. Communicate regularly with partners to quickly address problems, exchange best practices, and improve processes over time. By closely monitoring metrics, testing systems, making data-driven improvements, and communicating appropriately with partners, risks are minimized, EDI Standard benefits are maximized and transactions run smoothly. Effective governance is essential after an EDI system developed by EDI service providers goes live.


Best Practices for Successful EDI Standard Implementation

Having a clear strategy and implementation plan from the outset is essential for a successful EDI Standard system. Identify goals, stakeholders, requirements, and success metrics. Choose the EDI Standard that best matches your needs based on costs, compatibility, security, and scalability. Thoroughly test the system with each trading partner before going live to identify and resolve issues. Train all relevant staff on using the new EDI Standard system by top EDI companies, providing documentation and quick references. Closely monitor key performance indicators like transaction speeds, error rates, downtime, and partner satisfaction.


Continuously improve the EDI Standard system over time based on data and feedback to make it more efficient. Have a robust change management plan to effectively communicate changes and manage any resistance within the organization. Integrate the EDI solutions with internal IT systems for automated data flows between applications. Configure strong security features utilizing passwords, encryption, and digital signatures.


Routinely test your disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity in the event of system failures. Partner closely with your EDI Standard trading communities to exchange best practices and improve processes jointly. When these best practices are followed, you can successfully implement EDI Standard and reap the benefits of faster, more accurate, and lower-cost business processes.


ROI and Business Benefits of Choosing the Right EDI Standard Standard

Selecting the most suitable EDI Standard for your business needs can deliver significant returns and advantages. By choosing a standard that matches your requirements and capabilities, you enable automated, error-free data exchange with trading partners. This leads to higher efficiency, lower costs, and improved competitiveness.


Compatibility with partners allows seamless data transfers that speed up processes and transactions. Real-time information flows reduce delays and manual interventions. Error reduction from electronic data interchange lowers operating costs by minimizing mistakes and rework. Staff productivity increases as time is saved from fixing errors.


Automation of routine tasks frees up employees for higher-value activities, improving overall productivity and output. Costs related to manual processing and data entry are eliminated. Faster transactions and order processing times allow for improved responsiveness to customers and suppliers. Inventory holdings can be optimized, translating to lower costs.


Information visibility across the value chain improves decision-making ability based on accurate, near-real-time data. Strategic and tactical decisions consider complete information. Collectively, these benefits from selecting and implementing the optimal EDI Standard developed by top EDI companies for your business can result in substantial cost savings, productivity gains, faster transactions, and higher revenues – delivering a significant return on initial investments and enabling growth and competitiveness.



Selecting the correct EDI Standard for your organization is essential to maximizing the benefits of electronic data interchange. By evaluating requirements, costs, security, compatibility, and scalability, businesses can choose the EDI solutions that best automate processes, speeds up transactions, and reduces costs. With proper implementation, integration, and management, the right EDI Standard can significantly improve efficiency, information flow, and competitiveness.



What are the standards of EDI?

Multiple EDI Standards by EDI solution providers exist for businesses to exchange data electronically. The main EDI Standards are X12 developed in the U.S and widely used in North America, EDIFACT created by the UN and used globally with a broader scope, RosettaNet designed for the technology sector to support IT and hardware companies, and XML-based standards like ebXML and OAGIS that define how data is packaged in XML format for internet exchanges. 


Traditional EDI Standard formats like X12 and EDIFACT tend to be more established and robust while XML standards offer faster implementation but may lack some controls. The choice depends on your requirements and those of your trading partners. Compatibility, functionality, costs, and security influence which EDI Standard is most suitable for your organization.

What are the three EDI Standards?

The three main EDI Standards used across businesses for electronic data interchange are X12, EDIFACT, and RosettaNet. X12 developed in North America supports documents like purchase orders and invoices, primarily used in the U.S. and Canada. EDIFACT created by the UN is a global standard with a broader scope. RosettaNet focuses specifically on the needs of IT and technology companies, used chiefly by electronic component suppliers. 


Each standard has its strengths that make it suitable for different needs. Compatibility, costs, and functionality determine which of these three EDI Standards, or alternatives like XML-based formats, is optimal for a particular organization.

How are standards such as EDI used by businesses?

Businesses use EDI Standards to exchange electronic documents and data with suppliers, customers, and partners in an automated way. EDI Standard reduces the manual processing of paper documents and speeds up transactions. Companies implement EDI solutions that support a chosen EDI Standard to enable electronic data interchange. 


Data is transmitted between the EDI Standard systems of trading partners in the standard format. This allows automated processing of orders, invoices, shipping notices, and other documents. Benefits include faster transactions, fewer errors, lower costs, streamlined processes, and real-time information visibility across the supply chain. Using EDI Standards allows businesses to gain efficiencies and improve competitiveness.

What are the 4 layers of the EDI Standard?

The 4 main layers that make up EDI Standard are:

  1. Application Layer: Contains the business documents and data being exchanged between trading partners.
  2. Syntax Layer: Defines the structure and format of the data using an EDI Standard like X12 or EDIFACT.
  3. Transport Layer: Handles the transmission of EDI Standard messages between partners using methods like the internet, VANs, or private networks.
  4. Security Layer: Provides security features like passwords, digital signatures, and encryption to protect data in transit.

What is the X12 EDI Standard? 

X12 is a widely used EDI Standard developed and mainly used in North America, particularly the U.S. and Canada. The X12 standard was developed by Accredited Standards Committee X12 in 1979 to define the electronic exchange of business documents. The X12 standard supports various transaction sets or electronic documents like purchase orders, invoices, shipment notices, payments, and human resources forms. X12 uses ASCII text format for EDI Standard transmissions. When selecting an EDI Standard for your business, X12 may be suitable if you operate in North America and require the transaction sets it supports. Compatibility, coverage of your needs, costs, and scalability factor in choosing the right EDI Standard.