EDI mapping refers to the process of defining correspondences between the data formats used by two organizations so that they can electronically exchange business documents. Without proper EDI mapping in place by top EDI companies, electronic data interchange between two businesses would be impossible. EDI mapping studies the data schemas of both trading partners in detail to identify matches and needed conversions between their elements. It represents these correspondences in a formal map that allows their EDI systems to accurately translate data flowing between them.
Importance of seamless data exchange in business operations
Seamless data exchange between different software and business units is essential for efficient business operations. Data sharing enables information to flow quickly and accurately across departments and systems.
Employees spend time correcting mistakes and ensuring consistency between different data sources instead of focusing on value-adding tasks. Loss of data integrity makes good decision making difficult.
Software systems need to interface and communicate data routinely for operational tasks like order fulfillment, inventory management, billing and reporting. When systems cannot easily exchange data in real time, processes slow down and becomes inefficient.
Top EDI companies working with incorrect or outdated information struggle to coordinate properly on projects. As a result, collaboration suffers . Businesses risk losing customers when information flows badly. Delays in fulfilling orders, payments not properly recorded, and inaccurate product availability shown to clients indicate operational problems. This negatively impacts customer satisfaction, loyalty and eventually sales.
Benefits of EDI
Seamless data exchange enables a business to operate with speed, efficiency, and a high level of information visibility across business units. Employees have access to the accurate and current data they need when EDI service providers need it. Processes like order fulfillment, inventory management and reporting become faster and more reliable.
The result is better operational performance, better collaboration between teams, higher productivity and more agility to respond quickly to changes and opportunities. This enhances a company’s competitive advantage and positively impacts the bottom line.
What is EDI Mapping?
EDI services mapping refers to the process of understanding and linking the data formats used by two different software systems so they can electronically exchange business documents.
Every business software has its own format for organizing and representing data. When two businesses want to electronically transmit data like purchase orders, invoices, shipping notices etc., their software must be able to interpret each other’s data formats. This requires an EDI map by top EDI companies.
An EDI map is essentially a list of correspondences that shows how data elements in one format relate to or match elements in the other format. It identifies which fields map to which fields and describes any data type conversions needed.
Software applications that specialize in integrating different systems do the mapping of EDI. Mappers study the data schemas and EDI transaction sets used by the two systems. EDI service providers determine how information in elements like product codes, quantities, prices, dates, addresses etc. align between the formats.
Some elements may map directly while others require data transformations. For example, a product ID code of 8 digits in one system may require conversion to 11 digits for the other system to recognize it. The mapper identifies all such transformations needed.
Once the EDI services map is completed, it is uploaded into the software of both trading partners. Their respective EDI systems will then use this map automatically for the exchange of transaction set each time . The map ensures the accurate loading and interpretation of data from the sending system into the receiving system’s format.
Need for EDI Mapping
Without proper EDI mapping between the data formats of two businesses, electronic exchange of transactional documents like purchase orders, invoices, etc. is not possible. The mapping process studies the data structures in detail to identify correspondences and needed conversions and represents these in a formal EDI map that both systems can interpret.
Components of EDI Mapping
EDI mapping involves identifying correspondences between the data elements, structures, and codes used in the EDI formats of two trading partners. There are three main components to EDI mapping:
- Element Mapping – This involves finding equivalent data elements between the two EDI formats. The mapper identifies which fields in one format correspond to fields in the other format. For example, the ‘item number’ field may map to the ‘product code’ field.
- Structure Mapping – The mapper must also understand the structuring of data in the two formats. Some elements may have hierarchical relationships that requires preservation. Data segments, composites, compounds, and simple elements are mapped accordingly.
- Code Mapping – Since different partners often use different code lists for things like currencies, units of measure, countries, etc., code mapping is needed. The mapper identifies equivalent codes between the two code lists. For example, ‘USD’ may map to ‘078’.
Other activities that form part of the overall EDI mapping process include:
- Data Type Mapping – EDI services ensure that elements with different data types (numbers, text, dates, etc.) are mapped properly. The length and format of elements are considered.
- Default Value Mapping – Default values specified in elements are mapped for cases where one partner does not send a particular value.
- Transaction Set Mapping – The overall EDI transaction sets being exchanged like invoices and purchase orders are mapped in entirety between the two formats.
- Testing – After the EDI map is defined, it must be thoroughly tested by exchanging sample transactions between the partners’ systems and verifying the accuracy of received data.
Only after resolving all issues found in testing can the EDI map be finalized and deployed for live use. Proper mapping of elements, structures, codes, data types, and transaction sets together with robust testing ensures smooth and error-free electronic data exchange between trading partners.
The Purpose of EDI Mapping
The main purpose of EDI mapping is to enable the electronic exchange of business documents between two organizations that use different data formats. Without proper mapping, the systems of the trading partners will not be able to interpret each other’s data correctly.
Mapping provides the “translation” between the different data formats so that information sent by one partner in its format is accurately received in the format of the other partner. This translation is done automatically by the EDI systems of the partners based on the EDI map.
EDI services mapping identifies equivalent data elements, structures, codes, data types, and transaction sets between the two formats. It also indicates any needed data conversions. The end goal is to ensure information integrity as data passes electronically from one system to another.
Once an EDI map is defined for two trading partners, their EDI-enabled systems will be able to exchange information-rich business documents like purchase orders, invoices, shipping notices, delivery notes, advanced shipment notices, etc. seamlessly and accurately.
Without proper mapping in place, exchanging even simple business documents electronically would be impossible. The receiving partner’s system would not recognize most of the data in the sender’s format. There would be mismatches, errors, and missing information.
EDI mapping studies the data schemas and transaction sets used by the partners in detail. It then represents the correspondences between these in a formal map that the EDI systems can interpret programmatically. This map acts as the “rules” for how data should flow and be translated between the different formats.
Common Standards in EDI Mapping
For electronic data interchange to happen successfully between businesses, there needs to be some degree of standardization in the formats used. Several EDI standards and specifications have been developed to ensure compatibility and mapping between different systems.
Some common EDI standards that mappers refer to for guidance are:
- UN/EDIFACT – This is a universal EDI standard by the United Nations for international trade. It defines data elements, codes, syntax, and transaction sets.
- ANSI X12 – A set of EDI standards developed and managed by Accredited Standards Committee X12 in the U.S. It specifies data elements and formats for multiple EDI documents.
- Odette – A standard developed for the automotive industry, primarily used between automakers and suppliers. It defines EDI service messages related to the entire supply chain.
- VDA – Maintained by the German Association of the Automotive Industry, this standard is followed mainly by European car makers and parts makers.
- Tradacoms – EDI standards developed in the UK for transportation and logistics-related EDI messages.
- RosettaNet – A public EDI network in Europe that defines standard EDI message types.
- AUTOINF – An EDI reference model developed by European automakers and suppliers for exchanging product information.
These EDI standards define standard data elements, code lists, message structures, and syntax rules that mappers can refer to while mapping between the proprietary formats of any two businesses. They ensure common interpretations of data, resulting in more accurate mappings and seamless data exchange.
Even when trading partners follow different EDI standards, mappers use equivalence mapping between standards to establish correspondences. EDI services allow data flowing from one standard to be accurately represented in the other standard.
Common EDI standards are important as they act as a reference point for data organization and representation for maximum compatibility. They facilitate easier mappings between different businesses and enhance electronic integration within an industry.
Types of EDI Mapping
There are different types of EDI services mapping depending on the source and target formats being mapped. The most common types are:
- Proprietary to Proprietary: This involves mapping between the proprietary EDI formats of two businesses. Here both source and target formats are unique to the respective organizations.
- Standard to Proprietary: The source format follows a standard EDI format like ANSI X12 or EDIFACT while the target format is proprietary. An equivalence mapping is done between the standard and the proprietary data elements.
- Proprietary to Standard: The opposite of the above where the source format is proprietary while the target follows a standard format. The mapper defines a correspondence between proprietary and standard data elements.
- Standard to Standard: Both source and target formats comply with EDI standards but different ones. The mapper creates equivalence mapping between elements as defined in the two standards.
- Industry to Industry: Mapping is between the EDI formats within two different industries. For example, between the automotive and healthcare industries.
- Enterprise to Enterprise: The broadest form of mapping done between the EDI formats of any two organizations, irrespective of industry.
The type of mapping impacts how complex the process is. Mapping between standards is relatively easier since the standards define data elements in a structured manner. Proprietary formats usually require more effort to understand the data structures and establish accurate mappings.
The approach, level of detail, and amount of data conversions also vary based on the source and target formats involved in EDI mapping. But the basic goal remains the same – to define correspondences that allow seamless electronic exchange of business documents between trading partners.
Challenges in EDI Mapping
While EDI mapping is necessary for electronic data exchange between businesses, it can be a complex and challenging process. Mappers face several issues when defining correspondences between the data formats of trading partners.
- Different Levels of Detail: The source and target formats may represent the same data element at different levels of granularity. For example, ‘address’ in one format may contain separate elements for ‘street’, ‘city’, and ‘state’ while the other format may have just a single ‘address’ element.
- Data Structure Variances: The hierarchies and relationships between data elements often vary between formats. One structure by top EDI companies may nest elements within composites while the other uses flat structures. This makes mapping difficult.
- Multiple Code Lists: The various code lists used for values like currencies, units, country codes, etc. usually differ between partners.
- Data Type Mismatch: The source and target formats may define an element using different data types (text, number, date, etc.). Mappers are responsible for identifying the necessary transformations to convert one data type into the required data type.
- Default Values: Businesses often specify different default values for elements. Mappers must define how these will map while still maintaining information integrity.
- Testing Issues: Mistakes in mappings often only come to light during testing, at the time of actual data exchange attempt. Resolving issues found at this late stage can be difficult and time-consuming.
- System EDI integration: After mappings are defined, ensuring they are accurately implemented within the EDI systems and integrated with backend applications can pose challenges.
To minimize these problems, EDI service mappers must study the source and target data structures in depth. They should clearly define mapping rules and test mappings rigorously before deployment. Open communication with trading partners helps resolve issues and refine mappings where needed. Despite the challenges, accurate EDI mapping remains crucial for establishing electronic linkages between different business systems and reaping the associated benefits of automation and efficiency.
Tools and Technologies for EDI Mapping
Various tools and solutions are available to help organizations with the EDI mapping process. They automate and simplify the task of defining correspondences between different data formats.
- EDI Mapping Software – Dedicated EDI mapping applications analyze the data schemas of both source and target formats. EDI solution providers provide a graphical user interface for mappers to visually identify and establish relationships between elements. Many also support code mapping.
- EDI Integration Platforms – End-to-end EDI integration platforms incorporate mapping features within their wider suite of EDI capabilities. They map elements, convert data types, manage code lists, and test mappings.
- XML and JSON Tools – Technologies like XML editors, JSON schema validators, data diff tools, etc. help mappers analyze source and target formats (if XML/JSON based) and establish mappings between them.
- Data Mapping Tools – EDI mapping uses generic data mapping and integration solutions as they work at the data structure level, regardless of format. They identify matches and transform elements as needed.
- BPM/iPaaS Platforms – Business process management platforms and EDI integration platforms as a-service solution offer data mapping capabilities within their broader offerings.
- EDI Standards – References like ANSI X12, EDIFACT, Tradacoms, etc. provide a base for how data organisation. EDI providers leverage them to reduce complexities.
- APIs – Well-defined APIs that can exchange data in XML/JSON provide an alternative to mapping binary EDI formats. APIs act as the ‘interface’ between systems.
- In-house Tools – Some large organizations develop their internal mapping tools specialized for their specific EDI needs and custom formats.
The right mapping tools simplify the tasks of identifying element correspondences, defining conversions, and testing mappings. They improve the efficiency, quality, and speed of EDI mapping. However, there is still a requirement of human judgment to analyze source and target data structures properly and determine accurate mappings. Technology only aids, not replaces, this human effort.
Benefits of EDI Mapping
EDI solution providers provide several important benefits to businesses that facilitate electronic data exchange. Some of the key advantages are:
- Automated data exchange –The EDI systems of trading partners can automatically exchange electronic transactions based on the EDI map. This streamlines communications.
- Improved accuracy – EDI mapping identifies element correspondences accurately and specifies any needed data transformations. This maintains data integrity during the electronic exchange.
- Reduced manual errors – Automated data exchange reduces the need for manual re-entry of data from one system to another. This eliminates common transcription errors.
- Increased efficiency – Paper-based and manual exchange of documents takes time. EDI mapping enables faster electronic transfer of information between systems.
- Better visibility – Business documents exchanged electronically provide real-time visibility into transactions and operations across both partners. This enhances information flow.
- Faster order fulfillment – Instant access to electronic orders and documents from EDI providers helps businesses fulfill orders quickly and reliably.
- Improved supply chain management – Electronic exchange of documents related to procurement, inventory, production, and logistics enables better visibility and management of supply chains.
- Enhanced compliance – EDI mapping based on industry standards ensures compliance with regulatory and legislative requirements for electronic communications.
- Reduced costs – Eliminating manual processes and errors through EDI mapping helps lower operational costs for businesses.
- Greater competitiveness – Speed, efficiency, and reliability gains from EDI mapping provide businesses an edge over the competition.
Future Trends in EDI Mapping
For decades, organizations have utilized EDI mapping to facilitate the electronic exchange of business documents between different entities. However, the EDI mapping landscape is evolving with new trends shaping the future. Some key developments to watch out for are:
- Move to XML & JSON – More businesses are adopting XML and JSON formats for data exchange instead of traditional EDI standards. This allows for easier data mapping between partners using XML/JSON mapping tools.
- API-driven integration – Exposing APIs that allow EDI solution providers in XML/JSON is becoming more common. This obviates the need for complex EDI mapping as APIs act as the ‘interface’.
- Cloud-based mapping tools – Mapping solutions offered by EDI providers as cloud services are gaining popularity due to benefits like accessibility, scalability, and low upfront costs. This will drive further adoption of EDI mapping.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning – AI/ML techniques are being applied to automate more of the EDI mapping process. EDI service providers can suggest probable matches between elements after analyzing large data sets.
- Blockchain EDI integration – Blockchain could play a role in EDI mapping by allowing trading partners to maintain an immutable record of mappings on a shared ledger for transparency.
- Standardization of data formats – Industry forums are working to develop more standardized data schemas that businesses can reference for mapping. As a result, this will reduce proprietary formats over time.
- In-memory data grids – In-memory databases, which enable real-time data access, are currently being evaluated for potential utilization in high-speed EDI mapping and data exchange.
- Rise of low-code solutions – Low-code platforms that allow easy drag-and-drop mapping of elements without coding are gaining ground due to their ease of use.
In the long run, techniques of EDI service providers like self-learning maps and context-aware mappings may emerge. But for now, the shift to cloud-based tools, the use of XML/JSON, and API-driven integration will be the major advances that transform the EDI mapping landscape in the coming years.
In conclusion, EDI mapping lays the foundation for electronic data exchange between organizations. It establishes the “rules of communication” that allow two systems built on different standards to share business documents electronically. When done accurately, EDI mapping enables the automation of transactions through the electronic transmission of documents, resulting in significant benefits like efficiency gains, cost reductions, and greater competitiveness for businesses. Hence, the importance of EDI mapping in facilitating seamless EDI integration between trading partners cannot be overstated.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is EDI and its types?
EDI stands for Electronic Data Interchange, which is the electronic exchange of business documents by EDI service providers like invoices, purchase orders, shipping notices, etc. in a standardized format. The two main types of EDI are:
- Traditional EDI: Uses proprietary formats developed by EDI software vendors.
- XML EDI: Leverages the XML standard to structure and tag data. XML EDI is more flexible and easier to implement.
What are EDI tools?
EDI tools refer to the software and applications used to facilitate electronic data interchange between businesses. Common EDI tools for EDI providers include:
- EDI software that allows the creation, translation, and exchange of EDI documents.
- EDI mapping tools to define correspondences between the data formats of trading partners.
- EDI integration platforms that provide end-to-end EDI capabilities including mapping, translation, and document exchange.
- EDI gateway solutions that connect businesses’ internal systems to external EDI networks.
- EDI testing tools to verify the accuracy of EDI mappings and translations before live use.
How do you Analyse EDI data?
Various purposes drive the analysis of EDI data, including ensuring accuracy, monitoring transactions, identifying trends, and improving processes. To analyze EDI data, businesses typically:
- Extract EDI data from files or databases into data tables.
- Validate the data for completeness, consistency, and conformity to standards.
- Identify and correct any errors in the data.
- Transform the data into a format suitable for analysis.
- Load the clean data into a data warehouse or BI tools for reporting and dashboards.
- Perform analysis using techniques like exception reports, transaction monitoring, and metrics and KPIs.
What are the uses of EDI?
EDI provides several key benefits over paper-based and manual exchange of documents. Major reasons for using EDI include:
- Faster processing – EDI automates document exchange and hence is faster.
- Increased accuracy – EDI reduces manual errors.
- Lower costs – EDI eliminates expenses related to paper documents.
- Better visibility – EDI provides real-time information access across the supply chain.
- Enhanced tracing and auditing – EDI files maintain an audit trail of all transactions.
- Improved compliance – EDI ensures compliance with industry and regulatory requirements.
An IT company delivering the best in a constantly changing world. Our passion is to create feature-rich, engaging projects designed to your specifications in collaboration with our team of expert professionals who make the journey of developing your projects exciting and fulfilling. Get a 30 Min free consultation to convert your dream project into reality.