Electronic Data Interchange refers to exchanging business information or data electronically between partners or vendors. Before the concept of EDI was introduced, most communication was done on paper, phone calls, or other traditional modes that are hardly secure or efficient anymore. EDI follows several standards and protocols to facilitate business transactions and ensure compliance. Contrary to assumptions, EDI is quite an old concept, marking its existence since the 1970s when it was inspired by military logistics. Amongst various aspects of EDI solutions, EDI mapping is the most common and popular one. However, many companies are still not familiar with its importance and role in making their business transactions successful. Hence, in this blog, we are going to discuss everything one must know about EDI mapping.
An Overview of EDI Mapping
EDI mapping refers to the process through which EDI data is translated into a much simpler format that is easily used in new environments. It is the translation of data structures from a proprietary file, such as in CSV format, SAP Idiocy, txt, ERP-specific, etc., to a standard format that includes EDIFACT, ANSI X12 EDI Standards, and more. In simple words, you can say that EDI mapping describes how to convert information into two unique formats – company-specific data format and a standardized industry-wide EDI format.
On one hand, the corporate ERP solutions integrates data automatically while on the other, a standard-based format is sent to trading partners that use EDI and the same formats. It allows you to generate conversion programs from the description. With an EDI service provider to assist you, all the outbound processing converts the file formats to EDI that can further be shared with partners. The inbound processing translates the EDI format into an in-house file format. So, you can sum it up in three basic steps-
- Preparing the documents
- Transfer them into EDI formats
- Transmit the EDI files to partners
Steps for Mapping Factory
- Collection of the current maps
- Consultation with the ERP expert for subject matters in order to clearly define and capture the description of files for EDI mapping service.
- Construction of new map metrics to define the requirements of EDI to match them with the new EDI layout.
- Undergoing unit testing of all maps.
- Connecting EDI trading partner’s workflows to sync with map flows.
- Underlining and following the basic steps of maps.
- Connecting with the trading partners for clarifying the testing plan’s status.
- Testing and deployment for production.
- Following up with the support team for checking the consistency of all maps and EDI data flows.
The Need for EDI Mapping
In EDI, when the concern is primarily the exchange of data and information, mapping is required to assign the data source and destination correctly, i.e., sender and recipient. It transforms internal format into standardized and uniform message formats and vice-versa. The EDI mapping has specific instructions for the same. Hence, it represents proprietary customer interfaces data exchange settings with each partner along with a standardized data exchange procedure. This enables EDI traffic to run smoother without any specific programming.
Mapping is similar across various industries but there can be a difference in fields and documents. For retail and e-commerce solutions, EDI documents can be completely different from finance or supply chain. For some businesses, tracking orders can be critical while for others, it may hardly matter. Therefore, the important thing is the ability to manage data in mapping that is not accommodated in a particular ERP. Two orders received by a supplier for the same goods or products may be completely different. Every case or pack maintained by customers must translate to the units used by the supplier. Mapping is done to maintain cross-references, such as ship-to address code, distribution center number, buyer’s ID, etc.
The buyer-side of the map must accommodate all the fields used by a customer. This is done by an EDI software or EDI mapping service providers. They refer to fields used by a customer as a universal map that has two sides. The most complex part is connecting the other end to the supplier’s ERP. The mapping parameters are managed through application software, cloud-based EDI, ERP tables, mapping software modules, and custom programming. As handling user-specific logic is common, standardized capabilities that can maintain version-to-version ERP compatibility are the best.
The cloud-based approach to hybrid EDI offers unparalleled visibility by ensuring that you are able to standardize information flows. Moreover, with hybrid EDI solutions, traders can –
- Smoothen entire process
- Empower themselves with the ability to adapt and accommodate
- Make communications easier
- Simplify on-boarding process
Translation Basis for the EDI Converter
EDI mapping connects the source and target fields of the two different formats and provides the work instruction for the converter. With EDI conversion software, data is converted into an in-house system (source) into a standard format, such as XML. EDIFACT EDI, CSV, flat file, X12. the converter writes incoming data in this format to interfaces at the receiver as the target. He will seek all instructions and specifications required to create new files in the desired standard format. With EDI mapping, you also get a high degree of flexibility. For example, for customer-specific mapping, you can respond to partners’ change requests instantly and easily with extensive expertise in EDI tools and programming.
Advantages of EDI Mapping
One of the key steps or processes in EDI is the creation of a file that is used to convert one data format into another. To generate this map, a specially designed application is required that facilitates the process and completes it. Moreover, EDI mapping helps businesses capitalize on all the investments that have been put into creating the entire EDI infrastructure. It also ensures that the EDI data is shared automatically with different systems, such as ERP or accounting solutions.
EDI mapping can automatically create a repeatable process where it sends external data to critical internal systems without the need for human intervention.
Automation in EDI mapping eradicates the manual processes, deterring error risks while ensuring accurate EDI data import into back-end systems.
EDI mapping also helps in quick XML creation or flat-file creation that can be easily used for communicating EDI data to business trading partners.
Any successful EDI 834 or any other transaction is the successful development and implementation of EDI. To begin with, the employment of efficient object naming conventions must be used. This practice can eliminate the need for redevelopment at a later time.
Hiring an EDI mapping solution company can be helpful in building XML formats that are used by business or trading partners while retaining the investment in EDI infrastructure. The first and original form of EDI mapping used customized in-house software that creates a link between EDI and in-house ERP or accounting systems. However, this was quite an expensive and complex process. Thus, leading to the4 development of economical EDI mapping software. Companies adopted it on a large scale to eliminate any manual data entry tasks in the back-end systems.
Best Practices for EDI Mapping
EDI mapping creation involves building interface files for translating the files from one form to another. These files are made for supporting both ERP apps and any EDI transaction for trading partners to exchange data securely.
However, the type of files used in these transactions depends on the type of business niche and requirement as well as how a business wants to process the data with their ERP.
The key aspect for creating EDI interface files is by standardizing in-house naming conventions that can comply with all other files. Because EDI implementation can be affected by external and custom programming that is designed for interfacing.
Standardizing files can help users identify their purpose and keep them organized. Hence, when developing the files, these items should be considered-
- Direction Code-In, Out, Send, Receive
- Map/Transaction Type – 810, 277, 834, INV, PO
- Structured Data Levels – Header, Detail, Address, Note
- Segment Labels – BEG, IT1, N1, MSG
- Element Labels – BEG01, IT102, N104
The column names, the Element ID, and Elements Description details must also be added to help future technicians to identify the purpose of the EDI file. Hence, it is always recommended to add complete information to each transaction file to simplify file transfer. For instance –
Field Name can be added “CSTORD” which describes customer order. The Description field can be explained as “Cust Ord#” which makes any trading partner understand the file element.
Moreover, users can also make customized changes by adding new objects to underline the field type.
Direct EDI Mapping Versus Indirect EDI Mapping
Direct EDI mapping is also referred to as 1:1 Mapping. The term 1:1 Mapping is also stated and 1:1 translation. The reason behind this reference is single mapping creation. Yes, in order to transfer the information from source structure to target structure, only one mapping is created between the trading partners in a direct mapping.
Indirect or Canonical EDI Mapping
On the other hand, Canonical or Indirect Mapping simplifies complex transactions. With Indirect mapping, users can seamlessly maintain mapping and change management with EDI messages or formats at any point in time.
Canonical Mapping offers a partner mapping with a standardized format that is specific for each trader. With Indirect mapping, users can quickly convert the EDI messages into abstract layer format to suit their systems. This format can be further converted into an in-house format, which can be consumed by the ERP system easily and used later.
This form of EDI mapping makes EDI format conversion much easier, faster, flexible, and scalable.
Selecting the Right EDI Software
While choosing the most reliable software solutions for EDI, make sure to consider these following questions:
1. Do I have skilled people in the organization who can use EDI software?
Let’s face it – not everyone can know how to use EDI mapping software and make the best of it. You need proficient and experienced employees who are adept at EDI and its components. So, do you have people with relevant skills who can use this software? If not, then it’s better to connect with a professional EDI managed services provider who can perform all your tasks for you and recommend the right solutions.
2. Is the EDI mapping software flexible?
Of course, your business will grow and develop in the future so should be your EDI infrastructure and system. Thus, it is important that the software you select should be flexible and scalable according to your business needs. It must be easy to upgrade as your operations expand, easy to use, and meet your requirements.
3. How much does an EDI mapping software cost?
Budget is a primary concern for many businesses as they cannot spend extravagant amounts initially. So, it is important to decide on a budget as you start with EDI mapping software. It might cost you tens of thousands of dollars and setting a few criteria, in the beginning, will ensure that the money is invested in the right direction and reap maximum benefits. Apart from the cost of software, you must include additional services required for implementation and integration.
4. Is your business ready for EDI Mapping?
Just deciding that you must go for EDI software development is not enough. You have to determine if your business is ready for this change. Also, you must have all the necessary information to ensure that the EDI project is successful. Make sure that the system is well-coordinated with your in-house processes for effective results.
Connect with Us
As you now have all the information and knowledge about EDI mapping, we are sure that you are all set to seek professional help from a professional enterprise software development company the same. A3logics is our trusted EDI partner with a team of experts available round the clock to assist you and guide you at every step. Call us or drop an email and we will reach you back asap with the best solutions to achieve your business objectives.