EDI Specifications Are Like Snowflakes

Snow is forecast for Houston as I write this post. The weather report suggests a relevant metaphor for EDI implementations – EDI specifications are like snowflakes.

Although we do not deal with snow very often, we are an EDI provider on whom thousands of small businesses rely for EDI compliance. What we have found is that every trading partner’s specifications are unique, just like every snowflake is unique.

The reason for this is that every trading partner has their own systems and business rules that fit their particular way of doing business with their suppliers.

Not only are they unique, but EDI specifications change as trading partners upgrade their systems and as they work on improving their business processes.

Examples of Changes

Trading partners may upgrade all of their transactions to a new version of EDI. For example they may move from version 4010 to 4030. Or they may skip a version and move from an older version to a even newer version like 5010.

Sometimes new EDI transaction types are added that were not previously required. For example, they may add Advance Ship Notices or Payment Remittance Advices.

Other times a hard-copy requirement that is associated with EDI transactions will be specified such as shipping labels or branded packing slips. Occasionally a hard-copy requirement will be updated like requiring shipping labels to have 2D barcodes instead of 1D barcodes.

Specifications for EDI transactions may vary depending on which division of the trading partner is exchanging EDI transactions with the supplier. Delivery-to-store transactions frequently are different from delivery-to-distribution-center transactions and both of those may be different from drop-ship-delivery transactions associated with shipping straight to consumers by the supplier.

How Do Changes Get Implemented?

A trading partner will give suppliers notice when specifications are changed. During the notice period testing must be done to ensure compliance. After testing, the supplier is moved to production status for the affected EDI transaction types.

Trading Partner Examples

We’ll look at specific trading partner examples in future posts.

What Does This Mean to Your Small Business?

Changes to EDI specifications are one of the continuing headaches for suppliers who are required to be EDI compliant. Contact us anytime to learn more about affordable EDI solutions that take care all of the headaches associated with EDI compliance.

EDI Specifications Are Like Snowflakes by

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