How To Master The Art Of EDI Mapping: A Step By Step Guide

Table of Contents

A3Logics 26 Feb 2024

Table of Contents


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. With a compound annual growth rate of 12.5%, the size of the global market for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) software is expected to increase from $1.98 billion in 2023 to $4.52 billion by 2030.


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.

As per Michael Lee, an EDI consultant-“Clear communication is the foundation of successful EDI implementation. Understanding your partner’s needs and expectations is key to establishing accurate mappings“.


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 EDIFACTANSI X12 EDI Standards, and more. In simple words, you can say that EDI mapping describes how to convert information into two unique formats – a company-specific data format and a standardized industry-wide EDI format.


On one hand, the corporate ERP solutions integrate 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 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


Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the exchange of business documents between trading partners in a standardized format. It has become an essential part of many businesses’ operations as it allows for a more efficient and streamlined process of exchanging data. However, mapping can be a complex and challenging process, especially for businesses new to the technology. In this step-by-step guide, we will explore the fundamentals of EDI mapping and provide tips for mastering the process.


 Mastering EDI Mapping- 6 Point Steps


EDI mapping steps


Step 1: Understand the EDI Standards


To begin mastering EDI mapping, it is essential to understand the EDI standards. Several EDI standards include ANSI X12, EDIFACT, and TRADACOMS. These standards define the structure and format of the exchange data between trading partners. Understanding the EDI standards is critical to developing an accurate mapping specification.


Step 2: Identify the Source and Target Formats


The next step is identifying the source and target formats. The source format is the data format the trading partner is exchanging and the target format is the format the data needs to be transformed into to be compatible with the recipient’s EDI system. Understanding the source and target formats is essential for creating an accurate mapping specification.


Step 3: Create a Mapping Specification


Once you have identified the source and target formats, creating a mapping specification is next. A mapping specification is a document that defines how the data will be transformed from the source format to the target format. It should include the following information:


  • The source and target formats
  • Mapping rules for each data element
  • Data transformation rules
  • The validation rules
  • The error-handling rules


Step 4: Use an EDI mapping solution


EDI mapping can be a time-consuming and challenging process. However, a mapping solution can make the process easier and more efficient. The solution provides pre-built maps for everyday transactions and can help automate the mapping process. They also offer validation and error-handling features that can help ensure the accuracy of the data being exchanged.


Step 5: Test the Mapping


Testing the mapping is an essential step in the EDI mapping process. It is critical to ensure the accuracy of the mapping specification before exchanging data with trading partners. Testing the mapping involves verifying that the data is transformed accurately from the source to the target format. It also involves testing the validation and error-handling rules to ensure they function correctly.


Step 6: Implement the Mapping


Once the mapping has been tested and validated, it is ready for implementation. Implementing the mapping involves configuring the EDI system to use the mapping specification for exchanging data with trading partners. Ensuring that the mapping is implemented correctly is critical to avoid any data exchange errors.


Monitoring and Maintenance is also a crucial step since the EDI standards keep on changing. As per a specialist in EDI , John Smith” The biggest challenge with EDI mapping is dealing with the complex and ever-changing nature of EDI standards and partner requirements


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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 formats into standardized and uniform message formats and vice-versa. The EDI mapping has specific instructions for the same. Hence, it represents proprietary customer interface 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.


Supplier Side


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.


Buyer Side


The buyer side of the map must accommodate all the fields used by a customer. This is done by 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.


Cloud Based Approach


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 onboarding process


Translation Basis for the EDI Converter


EDI mapping connects the source and target fields of the two different formats and provides the work instructions 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


Advantages of EDI mapping


EDI Mapping is critical to this process, enabling businesses to translate data between different EDI formats and systems. In this blog, we will explore the advantages of EDI Mapping and how it can benefit your business.


Efficient Data Exchange 


EDI Mapping helps businesses to efficiently exchange data with their trading partners by translating data between different EDI formats and systems. It ensures that data is transmitted accurately and in the appropriate format, reducing the risk of errors and saving time and effort. With EDI Mapping, businesses can streamline their data exchange processes and improve the efficiency of their supply chain operations.


Improved Communication 


Effective communication is crucial for successful supply chain operations. EDI mapping solutions help businesses to communicate more effectively with their trading partners by translating data between different formats and systems. It helps to ensure that all parties have access to the same information, reducing the risk of misunderstandings and improving communication.


Greater Accuracy 


EDI mapping solutions help to ensure greater accuracy in the exchange of information between trading partners. By translating data between different formats and systems, EDI mapping solutions can reduce the risk of errors and discrepancies in data exchange. It helps improve data quality and ensures that all parties access accurate and up-to-date information.


Improved Productivity 


EDI Mapping can improve productivity by automating data exchange processes and reducing the need for manual data entry. With EDI mapping solutions, businesses can streamline their supply chain operations, reducing the time and effort required to exchange data with trading partners. It enables businesses to focus on other critical areas of their operations, such as product development and customer service.


Enhanced Visibility 


EDI mapping solutions provide enhanced visibility into supply chain operations by enabling businesses to track and monitor the movement of goods and information. It helps businesses to identify potential bottlenecks and issues in their supply chain, enabling them to take corrective action before they become significant problems. With enhanced visibility, businesses can make better-informed decisions and improve the overall performance of their supply chain operations.


Cost Savings 


EDI mapping solutions can help businesses save money by reducing manual data entry and improving supply chain efficiency. By automating data exchange processes, businesses can reduce the time and effort required to exchange data with trading partners, lowering labour costs and improving productivity. Additionally, EDI mapping solutions can help businesses to identify areas of inefficiency in their supply chain operations, enabling them to take corrective action and reduce costs.


Compliance with Regulations 


EDI mapping solutions can help businesses comply with industry regulations and standards, such as HIPAA and ASC X12. By translating data between different EDI formats and systems, EDI mapping solutions can ensure that businesses meet regulatory requirements for data exchange. It helps businesses avoid costly penalties and fines and protect their reputation in the marketplace.


Integration with ERP Systems 


EDI mapping solutions can integrate seamlessly with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, enabling businesses to automate data exchange processes and improve supply chain efficiency. With EDI mapping solutions, businesses can easily integrate EDI data into their ERP systems, enabling them to manage their supply chain operations more effectively.


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 solution provider can help build XML formats used by businesses or trading partners while retaining the investment in EDI infrastructure. The first and original form of EDI mapping used customized in-house software that links EDI and in-house ERP or accounting systems. However, this was quite an expensive and complex process. Companies adopted it on a large scale to eliminate manual data entry tasks in the back-end systems.


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Challenges in EDI Mapping


  • Complexity:


One of the critical challenges in EDI mapping is the complexity of the process. EDI mapping involves converting data from one format to another, which can be complex and time-consuming. It requires in-depth knowledge of source and target data formats and expertise in programming languages and data mapping tools. 


  • Compliance:


Another challenge in EDI mapping is complying with various EDI standards and protocols. EDI mapping solutions must comply with a wide range of industry-specific standards and protocols, such as ANSI, EDIFACT, and TRADACOMS, among others. Failing to comply with these standards can lead to data transmission and processing errors, which can negatively impact business operations.


  • Data validation


This is another significant challenge in EDI mapping. Since EDI involves the exchange of large amounts of data between different systems, it is essential to ensure that the data is accurate, consistent, and valid. Data validation can be a time-consuming process, and any errors or inconsistencies can result in delays and errors in processing.


  • Ensuring data security


Data security is also a critical challenge in EDI mapping. Since EDI involves exchanging sensitive data, such as financial information, it is essential to ensure that the data is secure and protected from unauthorized access. EDI mapping solutions must implement robust security measures, such as encryption, authentication, and access control, to ensure data security and prevent data breaches.


EDI services can help businesses overcome these challenges and streamline data exchange processes. The mapping solutions offer a wide range of features and functionalities, such as data mapping, data transformation, data validation, and data security. They can also integrate with other EDI solutions, such as EDI translators and VANs, to offer a complete EDI solution.


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 to support 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 of creating EDI interface files is 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 as 1:1 translation. The reason behind this reference is single mapping creation. Yes, to transfer the information from the source structure to the 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 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.


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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, it’s better to connect with a professional EDI-managed services provider who can perform all your tasks and recommend the right solutions.


2. Is the EDI mapping software flexible?


Of course, your business will grow and develop, and so should your EDI infrastructure and system. Thus, the software you select must 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 help from a professional EDI service provider. Get in touch with A3Logics, our trusted EDI partner with a team of experts available round the clock to assist you and guide you at every step.


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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What is EDI mapping in SAP?


Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) mapping in SAP involves translating EDI messages into a format compatible with SAP’s data structure.  EDI messages can come in various formats and standards, and SAP systems require EDI data to be mapped to specific fields and structures. The EDI mapping process involves configuring EDI partner profiles, mapping EDI fields to SAP data, and defining conversion rules to ensure that the EDI data is accurately processed in the SAP system.


EDI mapping in SAP can be a complex process. It requires understanding the specific EDI standards and formats being used and the SAP data structures and business processes. A successful EDI mapping implementation can streamline business operations, reduce errors, and increase efficiency by automating the exchange of critical business documents between trading partners.


How do you map EDI data?


Mapping EDI data involves translating EDI messages into a format the target system can process. The mapping process involves several steps, including identifying the source and target data structures, defining mapping rules, and validating the results.

You can use specialized EDI mapping software or services that provide a graphical interface for designing and testing EDI mappings to map EDI data. These tools typically support various EDI standards and formats and enable you to map EDI fields to target data fields visually. The mapping rules can be configured using drag-and-drop interfaces, and the results can be validated using testing and debugging tools. Alternatively, you can use scripting languages like XSLT or Java to create custom EDI mappings. This approach requires more technical expertise but provides greater flexibility and customization options.



How to parse EDI files?


Parsing EDI files involves extracting and processing the data contained in the EDI message. The structuring of EDI files uses specific segment, element, and sub-element delimiters. Parsing involves splitting the EDI message into its segments, elements, and sub-elements.


To parse EDI files, you can use specialized EDI parsing software or services that provide a parser that can handle various EDI standards and formats. These tools typically include pre-built parsers that can quickly extract data from EDI messages and provide validation and error-checking features. Alternatively, you can create custom parsing scripts using scripting languages such as Python or Java. This approach requires more technical expertise but provides greater flexibility and customization options.



What are the two EDI file types?


There are two main types of EDI files: EDI interchange files and EDI transaction files.


EDI interchange files exchange EDI messages between trading partners and typically contain multiple EDI transactions grouped. An EDI interchange file begins with an interchange header segment, which identifies the sender and receiver of the interchange, and ends with an interchange trailer segment.


EDI transaction files, on the other hand, contain a single EDI transaction and are useful for internal processing within a company’s systems. Each EDI transaction file contains a transaction header segment, one or more data segments, and a transaction trailer segment. The transaction set can contain purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices.


Both types of EDI files follow specific formatting rules and standards, such as ANSI X12, EDIFACT, or TRADACOMS.


How does EDI mapping work?


EDI mapping converts data from one format to another, enabling different systems to exchange data seamlessly. The mapping process involves several steps:

  • identifying the source and target data structures,
  • mapping EDI fields to target data fields,
  •  defining conversion rules 


The EDI mapping process typically begins with creating an EDI partner profile, which defines the specific EDI format and version that the partner is using, as well as the mapping rules for converting the data into the target format.

Next, there is parsing of EDI messages to extract the data segments, elements, and sub-elements. It is then to the corresponding fields in the target system, such as SAP. This mapping involves identifying the data elements in the EDI message and mapping them to the corresponding fields in the target system.