Handling EDI using Cloud Workflow

Electronic Data Interchange or EDI has existed since the early 70s. Today, many IT giants, such as IBM, are still using it.  One of the many reasons is its practicality, as this data format offers a way to transfer commercial documents in an easy and fast manner.

In this article, you will learn about the benefits of EDI, and how to create a collective digital model using EDI files and DBSync’s Cloud Workflow.

Benefits of EDI

EDI has been in the market for a long time. One of the reasons is its benefits.

EDI continues to prove its major business value by lowering costs, improving speed, accuracy and business efficiency. The greatest EDI benefits often come at the strategic business level.”

EDI Basics

EDI’s most important benefits can be summarized as:

Table 1: Benefits of EDI

These benefits can be capitalized in many business cases. One of the most important of them is Supply Chain Integration.

Use Case: Supply Chain Integration

Today businesses operate in a multi-enterprise environment. An important aspect of this ecosystem is the value added through the integration of partners and customer communities.

Collaborative digital models can deliver great things, such as supplying manufacturing lead times, product availability data, demand forecasts from end customers, and more.

This data availability could, for example, allow you to consider precise inventory levels across the supply chain, based on demand data, prices and market calculations.

Thus, a B2B digital chain could benefit from EDI, and made possible with DBSync Cloud Workflow: EDI being used to describe the documents, and Cloud Workflow to execute the document transfer via FTP servers.

Once the EDI file has been transferred, a third application, usually called an EDI convertor,  is necessary in order to interpret the code contained in the EDI file, and transform it into a proper document.

Figure 2: Supply Chain Integration

How Cloud Workflow Manages the Document Transfer

There are two different operations with an EDI document. First, an EDI file can be transferred between different points, via, for example,  FTP servers. Second, the EDI document needs to be parsed and transformed into the actual document.

Cloud Workflow can easily transfer text documents stored in an FTP server to another data source, including another FTP server. The files are handled via a separator, in a similar manner to CSV files.

This feature allows Cloud Workflow to transfer EDI files. Although EDI files are defined by many different standards, such as ANSI, EDIFAC and TRADACOM, the common characteristic is that they can be transferred via a separator.

However, it must be noted that Cloud Workflow doesn’t parses the EDI document. It only transfers the text file containing the EDI code.

Figure 3: EDI transferred via Cloud Workflow

In order to understand how Cloud Workflow transfers EDI documents between FTP servers, let’s take a look at the next figure, which shows the basics of an ANSI EDI document definition.

An EDI document starts with a “Start of transaction” indicator, and ends with an “End of transaction” definition. In the middle, the contents of the document are defined.

In EDI terms, a single document is called a “transaction set” or “message”. A document can be something like an invoice, a purchase order or another commercial document. A transaction set is comprised of data elements, segments and envelopes.

Data elements are the individual items of the document, and are contained in segments, separated by a data element separator. In the example shown in the figure the separator is a star or *.

Finally, a document is stored in an envelope, which can contain one or more documents. Envelopes are then transferred between sites.

By using this EDI file structure, Cloud Workflow can transfer EDI documents located in FTP servers in a similar way it transfers CSV files.

Figure 4: Structure of an EDI document

Wrapping Up

We have seen that DBSync’s Cloud Workflow can easily transfer EDI documents stored in FTP servers. The next step is to convert the EDI code into a proper file.

This feature opens immense possibilities. One very important option is its use in Supply Chain Integration, where a chain of FTP servers could serve as a link between different points in the supply chain.

The opportunities opened by this collective digital model are many: from production based on customer data, to inventory planning, reduction of lead times, and more.

Would you like to learn more about Cloud Workflow and its powerful features? Visit our website at https://preprod.mydbsync.com/, where you can try our app for free.

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