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Electronic Data Interchange

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Implementation of EDI

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There are several approaches to EDI implementation. There is not a "best" way, but there are some recommended ways. The following explains one way to implement EDI.

The first part of installation is setting up your database. The database contains all the tables with the necessary business data. Providers of database packages are Oracle, SAP, and Peoplesoft. In this example, we will be using Oracle products. The next piece is the gateway. Oracle provides the EDI Gateway, which allows the user to interact with a GUI or command prompt. The gateway extracts the relevant data from the database for each transaction. For example, if you wanted to create an Outbound Purchase Order, 850, the gateway would pull information such as part numbers, quantity, price, and any relevant information in regards to the trading partner. All code conversions and trading partner definitions are stored in the gateway. At this point in installation, you will need to contact your trading partners and decide on standards, codes and any other relevant information. All company addresses and contacts should be included in the gateway.

Once the Purchase Order is created, it is extracted to the translator. There are several options when choosing a translator provider. A few of the top companies are Sterling, Harbinger, and St. Paul Software. If working with Oracle, Sterling is recommended because of their seamless integration with Oracle. Sterling and Oracle are continuously working together to improve the EDI system.

The translator provides the API mapping and converts the extracted EDI transaction into an accepted standard. The most accepted standard now is ANSI, which uses a numbering convention for the transactions. For example, an 810 is an inbound invoice and an 830 is an outbound planning forecast. After the translator stamps the transaction with a standard, the file is ready to be sent to the trading partner.

There are also many ways for transmitting the files. One is to use point-to-point either over the Internet or FTP. Any FTP software package can be used, and the user logs on as "anonymous". Currently, the most used method is store-and-forward which utilizes a VAN, a value added network. The VAN acts as a simple post office for the trading partners. The VAN receives the file and holds it until the trading partner dials in to the VAN and asks for any files. A VAN provides more security than the Internet or FTP.

After implementing EDI, it is important to join a user group, which will allow you to access other companies using EDI. Oracle provides a user group entitled EDI SIG. It is important to select a user group that is familiar with the products that you are using.

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