EDI Outsourcing methods – features, advantages and benefits

EDI Outsourcing methods  have their own features, advantages and benefits. The first two methods of EDI Outsourcing, Service Bureau and Web/Desktop Access, assume you are new to EDI, or you have an in-house EDI system that you no longer wish to keep. The third method, Remote Administration, assumes you have an in-house EDI system that you want to keep, and you are looking for a third party to operate it on your behalf. Choosing the right method of EDI Outsourcing depends on your current situation and needs. You ultimately decide which of EDI outsourcing methods to use, and sign a contract with a service provider that specializes in that method. Our blog will help you select the most appropriate EDI Outsourcing methods and service provider.

Method 1 – Service Bureau 

A Service Bureau has one EDI system which handles all of their customers’ needs, and your company will be one of many that pass transactions through their system. The service provider deals with your trading partners in EDI format (the service provider can do ‘any-to-any’ format conversions, not just EDI. This will accommodate trading partners that request data in a format other than EDI, such as XML) interacts with your company in one of the below described ways.edi outsourcing methods

File Transfer

The service provider deals with your trading partners in EDI format, but will transport files back and forth with your company in a file format of your choice. The format you choose should match the requirements of your integration software or business application. The service provider will use the Internet to transport the files, and you look after the integration with your business application. In many cases, the service provider will offer software and/or professional services to complete the integration.


If your anticipated volume of EDI activity is low or seasonal, it may not be desirable to receive and send electronic files and integrate the data with your business application. You still have to comply with your trading partners’ EDI requirements, but it’s not practical with such low volume. Some service providers offer a Fax-to-EDI service that allows you to continue working in a paper environment. You communicate with the service provider via fax, and they take care of  converting your paperwork into EDI for your trading partners. They might use optical character recognition (OCR) software to scan your documents, or simply key them into their system. As far as your trading partners are concerned, you are 100% EDI compliant, and they may not even know you are using a Fax-to-EDI service.

Web Forms

This variation is similar to Fax-to-EDI. However, rather than continuing to work in a paper environment, the Service Bureau EDI outsourcing method provides you with web-based forms to enter your data directly into their system. The forms are often pre-filled with repetitive data to reduce the amount of keying and likelihood of errors. As far as your trading partners are concerned, you are 100% EDI compliant, and they may not even know you are using a Web Forms service.

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