EDI mapping practice – critical factor in electronic data interchange process
EDI mapping practice is the thing you need when receiving a transaction in EDI or any other format. Even a ‘rip and read’ scenario requires a map to define where to put the data on a piece of paper. EDI mapping is an essential component of integrating EDI into a business application. One anomaly in the process is that mapping must take place more than once before a transaction is successfully integrated.
The diagram below illustrates the flow of an EDI transaction once it has been received by a trading partner. A transaction must pass through one or two mapping steps before it reaches the business application.
Sender’s Layout #1
EDI translation software comes with a full set of EDI standards stored in a dictionary that contains hundreds of transaction sets, hundreds of data segments and thousands of data elements. A trading partner will only use a small percentage of the dictionary in their adaptation of the standards. Therefore, most EDI translation software vendors will offer kits that match the trading partner’s use of the standards. There is one kit for every trading relationship that contains several transaction sets.
EDI mapping pass #1 and layout #2
Each EDI translation software product in the marketplace will have its own way of doing things. In order to get a transaction into your business application, you first have to get it out of the EDI translation software’s database. The simplest method is to export a transaction in EDI format (layout #2) exactly as it looked when in arrived in layout #1. Some products will only allow exporting to a layout that is predetermined by the EDI translation software. In other software, you can map a transaction to a layout of your choice, which might as well be the integration software’s format (layout #3).
EDI mapping pass #2 and layout #3
Each integration software product in the marketplace will have its own way of doing things, as well. To
ultimately get a transaction into your business application, it has to pass through the integration software. If the integration software requires its own layout (#2), the transaction can be mapped during pass #1, or it will have to be mapped again in pass #2. Regardless of where it is mapped, the end result is the creation of layout #3 that your business application expects.
Why so much EDI mapping?
The reason there is so much mapping going on is that EDI translation, mapping and integration software could all be purchased from different software vendors. This creates confusion, as there are hundreds— possibly thousands—of combinations of products that could be used together. This doesn’t even take into account the Data Transport software discussed earlier—or software add-ons discussed later— that can add hundreds more combinations. The only realistic way for all these products to ‘talk’ to each other is through mapping.
Who provides the mapping software?
EDI mapping software can be purchased from:
1) the EDI translation software vendor;
2) the integration software vendor;
3) an independent mapping software vendor.
It is common for EDI translation and integration software vendors to sell mapping software, but it is uncommon to have EDI translation software, integration software and mapping software all rolled into one product—the exception being large enterprise applications that combine Data Translation, Data Transformation and Data Integration into one product that is expensive to purchase.