The EDI X12 standard was developed by the American National Standards Institute Accreditation Standards Council X12. The EDI X12 standard is prevalent in the US and was published in 1979, partly to enable the US auto industry to implement just-in-time manufacturing techniques to better compete globally. The EDI X12 standard has expanded to other industries - especially retail. EDI X12 is published in versions, with the most widely deployed one being the EDI X12 4010 version.
Use of EDI X12
EDI X12 is the standard most widely used in the United States. Retailers in the US have adopted EDI X12 with many of them refusing to exchange transaction documents using anything except EDI X12. While the EDI X12 standard should provide all the information a business needs to adopt EDI, the truth is a little different. This is because the EDI X12 standard has been deployed by companies through the use of "implementation guides" that provide guidelines for using EDI X12 with that specific company. This individual specialization effectively means that the EDI X12 standard is simply an over-arching umbrella under which exist hundreds of EDI X12 sub-standards, each specific to a company.
Deploying EDI X12
There are many ways that you could deploy the EDI X12 standard in your organization. One option of course is in-house developed EDI X12 software. This option is not very attractive because of the cost involved in learning the EDI X12 standard. Another alternative is a software package that is compatible with EDI X12. EDI X12 software is easily available at many price points. While there are a number of EDI X12 compatible software packages available for purchase, there are some important considerations worth noting.
Selecting an EDI X12 Vendor
When selecting your EDI X12 software package you should understand first and foremost if the software can shorten the process of implementing EDI X12 as it pertains to a specific trading partner. DiCentral's Trading Partner EDI X12 compatible software for example lets you use EDI X12 compliant "kits" that with a simple install will create an EDI X12 setup that is guaranteed to be compatible with the trading partner's EDI X12 guidelines. At the same time you should ensure that your software has the flexibility to let you hand-build a "kit" based on the EDI X12 standards, a feature also available in Trading Partner.
Selecting an EDI X12 Software
Another equally important issue in selecting EDI X12 compatible software is the level of support that the vendor will provide. If you are not familiar with the EDI X12 standard you will need to ensure the company you buy from can help you. You should also determine how easily the company can create new EDI X12 "kits" for you if necessary. While there are many EDI X12 compatible offerings in the market, many only offer basic EDI X12 functionality and can quickly become more trouble than they are worth, negating the entire reason for using EDI X12.