In EDI Expert Video Series 3.0, IDEA's B2B EDI Solutions Manager Tom Guzik continues to explore the ins and outs of EDI. Intended as a guide to small IT teams making big decisions and changes, this series answers questions about various aspects of EDI implementation, integration, and maintenance. In this episode, we explain why, while there are standards, your trading partners' documents can still be different.
Q: If there are standards, why are my trading partners’ documents different?
A: There are standards! And often what we see is that people confuse a guideline approach with a standard. The standard will support many fields, elements, qualifiers, etc. Often within an industry, you’ll have a guideline that sort of narrows down that list to make it easier for everybody to map and use the same map for multiple trading partners.
However, if your ERP system requires a specific field or element, or if your business system needs it for the rules of how you’re going to process an order or pay an invoice, they may ask to have an additional segment or qualifier used that wasn’t a part of the initial guideline that was put forth by your industry. In this case, it’s not that they’re asking you to do something that’s “non-standard”; they’re just asking for something additional that you may not have mapped for.
One way around that is to build your maps to include more fields than what you typically are using right now. That way, as you add trading partners or they change their systems, you have more than the most commonly used mandatory fields already included in your map, thus you don’t necessarily need to change anything.