The term EDI transaction is most frequently associated with a set of codes that have been established as part of the ANSI X12 standard to denote a specific business exchange. For example an EDI transaction of type 810 is used to refer to an invoice. The EDI transaction will definitively impact your business—in more ways than you may imagine. At the most basic level you will need to gain an understanding from your trading partner of each EDI transaction they expect you to support. Many retailers for example only require each of their suppliers to support the 810 EDI transaction and the 830 EDI transaction. While this is not ordinarily the case, your individual trading partners will have a full set of instructions (known as an implementation guide) that will give you details as to each EDI transaction required and the specific ways of implementing each.
Supporting the EDI Transaction
As you consider the process of selecting a software vendor for your EDI solution, one of the first considerations should be what level of support they offer for each EDI transaction that you will need. While most software vendors provide full support for the EDI X12 specification, many of them leave the actual implementation of each EDI transaction up to you. This is a process that can be complicated and very convoluted for each trading partner you intend to support. A better option might be to ask your software vendor to provide "kits" for each trading partner you plan on supporting that will have each EDI transaction pre-configured to each trading partner's specification.
Mapping Your EDI Transaction to your ERP System
As your adoption of EDI continues to grow you will at some point begin to consider an integration option. Specifically, you may want to being the process of integrating a specific EDI transaction to its equivalent area in your ERP system.
This process, known as EDI integration, is the ultimate use of EDI and can provide significant cost savings over the long term. When deciding to pursue an EDI integration project, you should decide which EDI transactions are the most critical for your organization. While it is certainly feasible to map every EDI transaction possible to your ERP system it's often not very practical. As a rule of thumb you should only map the EDI transactions that you use most often - for many people this means simply mapping the EDI 810 (Invoice) and EDI 850 (Inbound Purchase Order).