EDI data integration considerations

EDI Data IntegrationEDI data integration is needed because some business applications will accept an EDI transaction in its raw format for processing. This means there has to be integration software in the middle that will map the EDI transaction into the format that the business application will accept. The business application will provide the ‘doorway’ to allow a transaction to ‘enter’ in one of two ways:

1) the integration software will ‘walk through the door’ and interact with the application directly;

2) the integration software will hand off the transaction at the ‘door’, and the business application will take over.

Both methods are acceptable, but the business application ultimately decides which one must be used.

Inbound and outbound processing. Integration is a two-way process. While posting an EDI transaction, such as an order, into an accounting / ERP system (inbound) is most common, there is a necessity to retrieve a transaction such as an invoice out of the application (outbound), as well.

Any data format will work. While EDI is the primary format discussed here, the integration principles apply to other data formats such as XML and TXT, too. If your company has a web site that accepts orders from customers, the same principles and technology can be used to integrate your web site with the accounting /ERP software.

Using EDI Outsourcing. Regardless of whether you have an EDI operation in-house, or use a third party for EDI outsourcing, the integration process is the same.

Do-It-Yourself versus buying integration software. If you have IT personnel who are proficient in EDI and the business application, they can do the integration without purchasing integration software. For most companies, it is more economical to purchase software than to do it yourself.

Home-grown business application. If you have a business application that was developed by your IT staff, the integration process is the same. The only difference is that you, instead of the software publisher, determine how EDI will be integrated into your system.

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