July 8, 2014

EDI Expert Video Series Episode 1: What is a VAN?


EDI Expert Insights with Tom Guzik, Manager B2B EDI Solutions

We have a new EDI Expert Video Series, featuring IDEA’s Manager, B2B Solutions, Tom Guzik. Each issue, we will bring you answers to frequently asked questions about electronic data interchange (EDI) for users and non-users alike. This issue’s video answers the question of what a value-added network (VAN) is and how it works. Click here or on the video above to watch. If you have any questions you would like answered in a future segment, submit your topic to communications@idea4industry.com

Q: What is a VAN?

A:  A VAN essentially stands for a Value-Added Network, which means there’s a service provided with extra value. The best way to look at what a VAN is to think of a post office. You can write a letter to somebody and walk down the street and deliver it to their house, and they’ll have it. If you’re not able to do that – it’s rainy or a real far distance – you’ll have a challenge getting it there. But, if you use the post office, all you need to do is get it to a post box, then they pick it up, they look at the information, they know where the address is, where it has to go and they deliver it on your behalf.  Now, there is a fee for that but, it saves you time and you’re now able to do something else – make dinner for the kids, [and] so on.

A VAN provides a similar service because now you have a purchase order you want to send. You could go over and send it yourself through email, or you could fax it in but, now you have a problem that there’s no automation. With a VAN, we would receive your electronic version of that purchase order, we would confirm that the content [is] compliant with the standards, so there [is] not a potential for the document to be rejected, and then we would deliver it on your behalf, similar to what a post office does. But we do all the work for you, so we’re ensuring that the data has been delivered to the intended party. And if there’s an error, you’re notified immediately that there was a problem and your EDI didn’t get sent.  If you were to do something manually, you may not know for a while that it didn’t happen.  So think of it as a post office in a broader sense, and there are other ancillary services that we can go into detail later, and they provide transformation services and configuration changes.

Want to learn more about EDI or IDEA’s IDX services? Contact Tom Guzik at tguzik@idea4industry.com.