Among many services available for data exchange, EDI stands on top when it comes to efficient and secure transferring of business files for companies today. EDI services provider are working as an innovative and convenient option for modern-day businesses to exchange critical business files in a specific format with business partners across the globe. There are different types of EDI services available in the market today that are used for seamless B2B communication with trading partners by companies. Now let’s discuss what is EDI exactly? Electronic Data Exchange (EDI) refers to the electronic exchange of business documents (e.g. purchase orders, invoices, acknowledgments, bill of lading, etc.) in a standardized format within an organization or between computer systems of trading company partners.
Historically, EDI technology is very mature. A variety of EDI standards (e.g. ANSI X12 EDI, TRADACOMS, UN/EDIFACT, ODETTE, HL7, etc.) and document formats are used by companies across different industries for electronic data exchange for decades. The result is that the EDI is a highly efficient process that saves time, money, and human resource needed for companies engaged in business information exchange in diverse sectors, including retail & ecommerce, banking, shipping & logistics, etc.
Why are EDI Services Important for Your Business?
As a native or first time user of EDI service, you must know that EDI integration services have simply replaced the need to use postal mail, fax, and email for your company to exchange vital business documents with external business partners.
EDI services enable the business systems of trading company partners to exchange vital documents in a standardized format without any human intervention.
You can also say that without EDI, efficient communication between organizations would not be possible. Think of any major commercial business -healthcare providers, retailers, manufacturers, or even country governments, everybody trusts EDI for secure, error-free, fast, and efficient exchange of important business information.
When your organization relies on paper-based commercial transactions or uses some form of outdated procedures or system to conduct business-to-business (B2B) communication, you simply get jumbled up. Using manual methods for data exchange increases labor cost, the possibility of human errors, and reduces productivity for companies.
Simply put, any exchange of business information between companies without EDI capabilities is less efficient today. The use of standardized communication format in EDI makes it an international language for business data exchange across every industry in the world. It is also the most popular global business communication standard that enables companies to conduct business electronically and exchange information securely with partners across the globe.
EDI in retail industry is helping major giants, such as Walmart to securely transmit information with their business partners. In order to achieve seamless information exchange, today’s EDI managed providers offer different types of EDI, which are mentioned below.
Different Types of EDI Services
The types of EDI services are mainly dependent upon how EDI communication and conversions are organized between trading partners.
Broadly, there are two main types of EDI – proprietary or in-house EDI solution and third-party EDI solution. In the former case, all the tools required for EDI communication and conversion are built in-house by an EDI user. In another category, all EDI services are delivered by an external EDI services provider to the companies. Businesses do not have to worry about any communication protocol and EDI standards when availing of services from an EDI partner.
Based on the EDI communication methods, proprietary and provider EDI solutions can be further categorized, which are given below:
Direct/Point to Point EDI
Brought to life by Walmart, this popular form of EDI service, also known as point-to-point EDI services is furnished to create a direct connection between two business partners for exchange of information. In this approach, your organization is required to establish a separate connection with each business partner for electronic data interchange.
Direct EDI approach is not suitable for large organizations If their partner businesses use different communication protocols. They need to maintain a separate EDI connection with each partner as well as an EDI software solution that supports multiple protocols like AS2, FTPS, etc.
Hence, only prefer this type of EDI service when your firm performs a lot of daily EDI transactions with a particular client.
EDI via VAN
Majority of secured EDI transactions today that takes place between the firms are possible due to EDI van services. EDI networks are preferred by many companies due to the value-added services they receive from service providers.
To be specific, an EDI network is simply a secure internet channel over which EDI documents are exchanged by related parties. Generally, an EDI network provides multiple facilities to organizations like full mailbox service, full audit trail, message alerts, ancillary services, and so on.
EDI through AS2
AS2 is an internet communication protocol that ensures secure data transmission over the internet. In case of EDI via AS2, the EDI data is sent securely and reliably in a point-to-point manner. AS2 created EDI data “envelops”: enabling it to be sent securely using digital certificates.
EDI through FTP/VPN, SFTP, FTPS
All the above acronyms are popular internet communication protocols that are used for the exchange of EDI information. Business partners can leverage any of these protocols for the exchange of EDI documents in a point to point fashion or via an EDI Network over the web.
Unlike AS2 EDI transfer, information exchange in the case of mobile EDI is done via a standard internet browser. Different kinds of forms are used by organizations for information exchange over the internet. Such type of EDI services is immensely popular among small and medium scale organizations as they occasionally need such a service.
Traditionally, private networks like VAN or the internet are used by organizations for the exchange of EDI documents. Mobile EDI service has been integrated with value addition knowing its important at a very early stage due to security issues and a limited number of supporting mobile devices. The screen size and quality of mobile devices are mostly unsuitable to support EDI transactions. But, the mobile EDI service industry is growing slowly and we are a few days away from seeing people downloading EDI apps from corporate app stores.
EDI outsourcing (B2B managed services or B2B outsourcing) is rapidly gaining popularity among organizations as it enables them to hire external specialist resources to manage their EDI tasks on a day to day basis. The other reason is that companies want to integrate their back-office systems like ERP with EDI systems for seamless data transfer.
If your company doesn’t have enough time and dedicated resources for EDI integration, you can consult EDI outsourcing providers to ease out the task for you.
Which Type of EDI Services Suits your Business Better?
A variety of EDI services are available in today’s market, many IT consulting firms have jumped in the market of EDI which creates confusion in choosing the right EDI services that are best for their business and how to choose a perfect EDI services provider.
No matter whether you’re going to use EDI services for the first time or expanding your existing EDI infrastructure to support global business partners for data exchange, choose an EDI service that not only meets your current business needs but is also in line with your company budget, size and technical capabilities.
Whether it is retail, finance or automotive EDI industry, large organizations can easily adopt a “hybrid approach” while opting for EDI services. Why?
Having multiple external business patterns is a common case with large firms. However, the frequency of data exchange done with each partner is not always the same – it depends upon their size, importance, and technical capabilities. So, for large firms, it is better to go for a hybrid solution when opting for EDI services.
Adopting a hybrid approach means having a separate EDI solution for each business partner for information exchange. For example, when dealing with a small-size vendor, it is better to perform EDI via Web as it would be more affordable and convenient for both whereas in case of a large company partner, performing EDI via VAN is more appropriate.
On the other hand, as a startup or emerging businesses working on cutting-edge tech like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, etc. – it is generally advised to partner with a third-party EDI consulting services provider or choose a provider EDI solution, considering limited budget, manpower or technical capabilities.
Outsourced EDI consultants are highly experienced to track down the EDI transaction volume, integration requirements, and business resources, you have, as a startup and accordingly integrate a custom EDI solution in your business hierarchy, meeting your budget constraints.
Checklist to Consider Choosing the EDI Services Provider
Here are a few points you should check out when choosing a new EDI services provider:
Custom Centric and Responsive: Choose a partner who understands your supply chain needs and long-term business goals. One who is ready to improve the effectiveness of your supply chain operations? Check things like their client engagement approach, service delivery, response times and so on. Are they committed to resolving all your queries related to business data exchange? Understanding your problems is not enough, do they also have a team who can come up with a quick solution and implement it in the right manner. Consider below mentioned points in your checklist for EDI healthcare.
Company Portfolio: Check your potential EDI partner’s past projects. Check the kind of projects they have done in past in a similar domain as yours. How happy their past clients were with the quality of services delivered. Do they have a well-round portfolio to suit all your business? Do they offer a comprehensive support package with round the clock availability to solve all your queries?
Transparency: Analyze whether the vendor you have chosen has transparent B2B processes or not. Do they work with a predefined set of principles? Are they committed and ethical enough while engaging with third-party clients? Ask their previous clients about the experience they had while working with your chosen EDI managed services provider.
Flexibility and Resource Capabilities: Check the amount of EDI resources your chosen partner has. Are they working with limited resources? Can they scale up their resources if the need arises in your project in the future? Do they have industry-recommended EDI infrastructure, tools, and capabilities to support your project? A good EDI provider always has the capabilities to deliver solutions that are quick to implement into production between your EDI trading partners and your systems.
Partner a Reliable EDI Services Provider to Run Your Business Better
As you know, when you hire an EDI consultant, you simply save yourself from the cumbersome task of paper-based document exchange within your firm and with your business partners.
EDI consultants at A3logics are innovative architects who understand your business needs and revolutionize your company operations by integrating EDI into your systems. We are also recognized as a leading IT consulting and Salesforce development company with operations in more than 69+ countries. Contact us directly to explore our widest range of EDI mapping & integration services.