EDI Requirements (Hardware and Software)
EDI Requirements released by Union Pacific Railroad will be useful for suppliers involved in Electronic Data Interchange. Many business documents can be exchanged using EDI, but the two most common are purchase orders and invoices. At a minimum, EDI replaces the mail preparation and handling associated with traditional business communication. However, the real power of EDI is that it standardizes the information communicated in business documents, which makes possible a “paperless” exchange.
Most companies create invoices using a computer system, print a paper copy of the invoice and mail it to the customer. Upon receipt, the customer frequently marks up the invoice and enters it into its own computer system. The entire process is nothing more than the transfer of information from the seller’s computer to the customer’s computer. EDI makes it possible to minimize or even eliminate the manual steps involved in this transfer.
A computer is required to send and receive EDI transmissions. The hardware can range from a PC to a mainframe computer. EDI infrastructure can help make EDI communication successful with your hardware framework. EDI software can be developed in-house or purchased from one of several suppliers who offer products in all price ranges. In sending mode, the software takes data from the application, translates it into EDI code and transmits the message. In receiving mode, the software performs these activities in reverse.
EDI software can use either a “manual” approach, where outgoing documents are keyed in and incoming documents are printed to paper, or it can use an application integration approach, where EDI electronically links to existing application programs. The manual approach eliminates mail delays and assures that business communications are standardized. However, the application integration approach achieves the full potential of EDI, dramatically improving productivity and reducing error rates.
Some factors to consider when selecting or developing EDI software include:
- Standards supported
- Ease of customization
- Ease of maintenance
- Level of technical support available
- Platforms supported.