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EDI Transaction Set

Understanding the Basics of EDI


What is EDI Transaction Set?

An EDI Transaction set is a document defined by the ANSI X12 EDI standard that prescribes the exchange of information between two businesses using electronic means.  A type of EDI transaction set is the EDI 810 for instance which covers how invoices are to be exchanged between trading partners.  An EDI transaction set must always conform to the complete ANSI X12 standard, but each trading partner has some leeway as to how they will use the EDI transaction set.

Types of EDI Transaction Set

There is a large number of EDI transaction set types covering a great variety of industries and business types. The retail industry is a particularly heavy user of EDI where the EDI transaction set of type 810 and EDI transaction set 850 are among the most popular and frequently used.  More esoteric forms however are the 812 EDI transaction set, covering credit and debit adjustments, or the 869 transaction set which is used to inquire as to the status of an order.  The EDI X12 standard provides an EDI transaction set for just about any type of communication possible.


How Trading Partners Use An EDI Transaction Set

While any EDI transaction set must comply with the ANSI X12 standard, individual companies have a certain leeway in how they use each EDI transaction set.  Each trading partner can control which elements of an individual EDI transaction set are required as part of a transmission.  The information on these requirements is contained in an implementation guide that provides detailed instructions on each EDI transaction set and the required elements.  For this reason it is often helpful to work with an EDI software vendor that can provide pre-configured EDI transaction set settings for each trading partner you will work with.  These setting files are often known as "kits" and they are pre-configured to comply with the EDI Transaction set standards as well as the EDI transaction set implementation guidelines of the trading partner.


Translating an EDI Transaction Set

The process of translating an EDI transaction set into a human readable document is fairly straight forward.  Once an EDI transaction set is received the first step must be translation of the document.  An EDI transaction set in its native format is not meant to be read by a human operator.  In the translation process the EDI transaction set will be converted into one of two forms - a "human readable" format - usually in the form of a report that is printed to a physical printer, or (more likely) into a file format that is easily imported into an accounting or ERP system.  The translation of the EDI transaction set into this more easily integrated format is the first key step in the reception of the EDI transaction set before it can be used by the intended recipient.


Using an EDI Transaction Set

Once the EDI transaction set has been translated, one of two outcomes will happen.  The translated EDI transaction set will be printed to a printed report or form, or the EDI transaction set can be sent directly to a company's ERP or accounting system through a process known as integration.    This process begins when the EDI transaction set is translated into a standardized computer format - like a flat file - that is then automatically imported into the company's ERP system.  Through this "mapping" process the EDI transaction set finds its way into the recipient's computer system completing the loop.

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