Frequently asked Questions

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

What is EDI?

In a business Environment is the exchange of machine-processable information recognized as electronic data interchange short EDI. The general purpose is the exchange of business related voucher between two participants. There are more than one standard existing, which could be used for the exchange of business vouchers. The european retail trade uses very often the EDIFACT-standard.

Why not using e-mails?

An important aspect is that the EDI is concerned with machine-processable information. Although an e-mail can be used as a transport , it still lacks the work ability for the computer. When you receive an e-mail with a PDF document, you still have to manually enter the content from the document into your computer system. Of course, there are also software programs that can extract information from PDF files, but there is a risk that the information will be misinterpreted. Not to be neglected is the time it takes to extract the information from many PDF documents with different formats. It is definitely better if you can standardize this.

Which benefits does EDI have?

The main reason to use EDI is the Digitization and Standardization of Processes, which is the result of
  1. a reduction of manual activities and data captures within the processes,
  2. a reduction of errors within the processes,
  3. an improvement in the throughput speed of processes and
  4. increased security in the performance of the processes.
This leads to both short-term and medium-term time savings, and since your employees are freed from the monotonous activities of manual data collection, there is a smaller number of errors and fewer complaints.

In summary, using EDI, you can improve your processes and save money in the form of reduced working hours.

How does EDI work?

The actual exchange of electronic documents via EDI is usually carried out as follows:
  1. A transfer file is generated in a defined universal format, usually by an ERP system.
  2. The transfer file is provided to a conversion program that converts the universal file to a format desired for the partner.
  3. The converted file is sent to the partner via a transport route, which confirms this check and, if necessary, the input.
This would be the brief description for an outgoing document, for an incoming message, the described process runs in the reverse order.

There are also applications in which no conversion takes place when other formats have been agreed.

Are there different possibilities to use EDI??

Yes, there are several ways to create an EDI capability in a company:
  1. The purchase and operation of your own EDI system.
  2. The connection of the existing ERP system to a service provider.
  3. Using a WebEDI platform

Which solution is the best for my company?

It is important to note that only a full integration of EDI into your ERP system and hence your processes will bring you the desired benefits.

Own EDI structure
It is important to consider whether you want to operate your own EDI structure or not. One advantage is that you are quite independent of a service provider. However, you need a software to receive and send EDI documents. In the same way, you need employees who are responsible for this topic, which create and administer new connections, react to errors, talk to your partners and perform other maintenance work. This solution is recommended if you want to invest enough man-power in the topic.

It would, of course, also be conceivable to have your own EDI structure built up and to be operated by a service provider such as Free Mind IT GmbH.

Connection to a service provider
Connecting to a service provider has the advantage that you only have to take care of your own processes. The necessary activities for EDI, for example the conversion, receiving and sending of documents, are done by the service provider. You do not need your own EDI system, but only one interface to exchange data with the service provider. However, a certain dependency on the service provider is dealt with. If EDI is new to you and a business partner asks you about it, this is probably the best solution. Because you only have the service costs, but do not need to acquire software or to qualify employees for this topic.

We at Free Mind IT GmbH can help you with decision-making as well as with a realization.

The use of an Internet platform for EDI, simply referred to as a WebEDI-platform, is intended for an introduction into the topic. The advantage is quite clear that it is the most cost-effective solution, but the least useful for you. In our WebEDI portal, there are some possibilities for importing and exporting files that can be processed, but your computer system must support this. In addition, we provide functions to convert an EDI document into a human-readable PDF. If necessary, we also offer the function that documents can be forwarded. This means that content from a document is transferred to a new document, and then only missing information or changes need to be recorded. This reduces the workload within the platform somewhat, but not as much as a completely integrated connection can do.
If you are looking for a platform on which you would like to exchange the most diverse EDI documents with various partners, this solution might be of interest to you.

Our WebEDI portal can be used as an entry point. We also offer the possibility to switch to a direct connection during the run time.

What do I need for ...

... a separate EDI structure?

The only prerequisite is that you have a compatible ERP system, which can create and process a universal format. Of course, you need the IT infrastructure, the necessary IT applications and the employees to build and operate an EDI structure.

The actual own EDI structure should then consist of the following ...
  1. ... an attachment to your ERP system with a universal format (CSV, XML, ...), which always contains complete data for a business document.
  2. ... an EDI converter, which converts the universal format into an EDI standard, according to customer-specific requirements.
  3. ... one or more software tools to connect to your partner using a protocol such as X.400, AS2, or similar.
  4. ... a team of people who manage and operate the structure, including the basic IT components.

... a settlement via an EDI service provider?

A compatible ERP system is required, which can import and export documents in the form of files. In addition, you need a connection to the service provider. This can be implemented via a VPN tunnel via Internet, or other ways.

... the use of the WebEDI-Portal?

The WebEDI portal is based on an Internet platform, so it is only necessary to have a Internet connection, an internet-enabled computer, and a current Internet browser. The data is transmitted encrypted between you and the platform. No installation on your computer.

What can Free Mind IT do to support my business?

We at Free Mind IT GmbH can fully support you in the field of electronic data exchange. This is not just to present you with a platform but a complete solution. Electronic data exchange is a tool for digitizing business processes. We can advise you in this area, as well as complete takeover of your EDI operation. Just ask us, we'll find a solution to help you deal with your business again, rather than having to deal with bits and bytes when transferring EDI documents.