EDI, Electronic Data Interchange,
is what drives 'B2B eBusiness'.
Much of the 'C2B' eBusiness is very visible & involves customers
using suppliers' web pages to enter their orders and get other
customer services. EDI is involved in the 'back office'
exchange of business documents such as Purchase Orders,
Acknowledgements, Shipping Notices & Manifests, and
Invoices. It is used to support both JIT (Just In Time) and
MRP (Materials Requirement Planning) approaches to purchasing.
are maintained by groups that take input from industry and promulgate
standards. Today, there are two major standards: ANSI X12 is maintained by an organization
nearby, in Northern VA, Data
Interchange Standards Association. DISA is the 'Secretariat'
that maintains and publishes this set of standards using meetings and
methods of ANSI, American National Standards Institute. EDIFACT is another standard for exchange of
business documents, more European in flavor. Here's a website
Here's a tutorial
website maintained by Global Exchange Services that gives an
excellent overview of both X12 & EDIFACT, and also gets into XML
as it's used in EDI.
The pages handed out in class are from DISA's Introduction to EDI.
The standard set is $400+ to
purchase but is well worth the price as it is a set of binders or CDs that
contain specifications of a perfectly normalized record structure suitable
for documenting any type of transfer of goods & services, or data
about, before, during, and after these events. The handout in class shows a
few details for #810/Invoice and #997/Functional
Acknowledgement. These are two of dozens of standards.
There are other 'players' important in EDI. Inovis
is a large service bureau used by manufacturers, distributors, and
buyers for fashion & other 'department store' type goods. These
trading partners hold one another to the Voluntary Inter-Industry Commerce
Standards (VICS) and this is their EDI bible.
Here is an example of their emerging standards for Bills
Book Distributors & Sellers use a standard called
BISAC which is a subset of X12 devised by The
Book Industry Study Group. Industrial customers and suppliers
use yet another. Banks and Financial Institutions use subsets that
move the Tender about the orders. I've learned recently that
Health Insurance providers are moving toward an X.12
X.12 standards permeate all these electronic trading
partnerships and keep it from being a Tower of Babel circumstance.
Any Vertical enterprise application will be of more value if the
particular standards of EDI for its core activities are accommodated
easily by its enterprise engines.
Standards are folded into other standards. Here's
how the Uniform Code Council's UPC barcodes get into X12 documents about
goods headed to a Department Store...
Inovis maintains a central
catalog used for EDI trading partners. They have been in
the business since long before the Windows desktop and their services have
been accessed for years by users of ascii terminals entering orders in
unix, mainframe, or proprietary minicomputer environments. For their buyer-customers
they provide a central database of exactly what is available from their
vendor- customers and what the barcoded UPC will be when it arrives at the
UCC, The Uniform
Code Council, provides the service of registering the UPC, Universal
Product Code, barcodes that are practically universal for products headed
our way. Manufacturers & distributors manage their range of UPC
codes and this forms one of the data elements in the ANSI standard QRS
catalog. EDI purchasing documents refer to these same #s so nobody
UCC also defines the format of the UCC-128 barcode label
that is the 'carton level identifier' affixed to each carton shipped by
UPS, FedEx, or other common carrier when trucking is involved in the
distribution. The ID of the UCC-128 barcode becomes one of the data
elements in the shipping manifest that is sent via EDI. When the
carton arrives at the loading dock the distribution system already knows
its contents and their destination.
When there's air freight or ocean shipping involved
there are other standards that apply and other organizations involved in
the design and details of these documents and labels.
The ANSI Standard X.12 is quite complete and defines 10s
of 1000s of separate codes used in 1000's of data elements used in 100s of
data segments to form dozens of transaction sets for practically any
transaction, acknowledgement, confirmation, enquiry, or update required in
Industry groups get together to pick and choose the
particular standards needed to reflect their commerce. The
Department of Defense, for example, chose these a few years back as they
added EDI to their order processing legacy:
840 Request For Quotation
997 Functional Acknowledgment
843 Response To Request For Quotation
832 Price/Sales Catalog
850 Purchase Order
855 Purchase Order Acknowledgment
824 Application Advice
860 Purchase Order Change
836 Contract Award Summary
865 Purchase Order Change Acknowledgment
838 Trading Partner Profile
869 Order Status Inquiry
864 Text Message
870 Order Status Report
Vendors wanting to woo the DOD had best make sure that
their flavor of EDI package can support the whole range or they'll be
nixed by some Sergeant who isn't getting a snappy 997 & 870 for his
869. It's interesting to note that the DOD, as of this
listing, has left out the whole range of documents that form the Advanced
Ship Notice functions, in which carton contents are manifested and
forwarded to the shipper for their application of delivery advice.
BISAC uses a subset
of X12 which includes six documents.
The nature of EDI transmissions is changing to take
advantage of The Internet, but some of EDI still travels via the VANs
(Value Added Networks). It is bound to be an interesting decade for
EDI trading partners.