January 1, 2019

EDI Functional Acknowledgement (997) The Unsung Hero of the EDI World

Most know what the EDI Functional Acknowledgment document is (EDI FA), however many may not know how important this very small EDI transaction set can be to your EDI operations.

The EDI FA is less than one Kilo character in size, yet the value it provides can be enormous.

The EDI FA is part of the reliability functionality of EDI, however its use is optional. So how can such an important EDI document be optional? The short answer is, “It depends.” It depends on your trading partner, the type of data you are transacting and the tightness of your integration.  Let me explain what I mean:

If you have a trading partner that will reliably pick up and handle an EDI file that fails. Or if you have a schedule for your transactions and an alert will happen if they don’t arrive. Or the data you are trading isn’t critical and failures won’t matter, then you may not care about the EDI FA. Often the EDI FA transaction is omitted if the EDI files are being transferred in an extremally reliable fashion where a failure of transmission will be detected.

However, if you want to get a response, or send a response, to or from your EDI trading partners ensuring the sender will know if the transaction was received and processed, then an EDI FA is the tool to use.

The EDI FA can be used two ways. First, they can be used as a simple acknowledgement that the file was received intact. Essentially this is a response to each GS envelope saying, I got both ends and the stated number of ST-SE document. Or saying, I didn’t get this GS-GE correctly, try again.

Secondly, the EDI FA can be used indicate more about processing. Basically, not only saying I got your GS-GE envelop, but I processed the documents. This provides the sender more information and can be used for processing acceptance beyond just transmission of the file.

The EDI FA Structure and Segments

An EDI FA contains an ISA, GS and ST envelops, just like all valid EDI documents. The value comes from the AK segments inside. The AK1 segment is required, and it contains two elements. The AK101 is the identifier, “AG” is the most common qualifier used and it means “Application Advice” or in other words, “I have something to say about this transaction.” The AK102 element is the GS control number of the document being responded to. If there is more than one GS envelope in the ISA envelope, the EDI file will need to get back multiple 997s.

The AK9 segment is also required and this segment contains one required element, the AK901. The AK901 is the error code. If there are no errors, it is “A” for “Accepted”. There are also a few other values that indicate the transaction has been accepted, but with errors. Then there is “R” for “Rejected”.

There are other segments that can be used having down to line and element error codes and messages, however most of the time they aren’t used or have much value. However, if you are rejecting the EDI for something that is not document format related, such as an incorrect account number or an unrelated processing related, then these can start to become helpful.

The above said, the EDI FA will not provide any value unless you reconcile your EDI FA’s against your EDI transmissions and receipts.  Often companies will setup the EDI FA and then simply ignore them never gaining the value this little transaction can provide.  Many EDI translators provide EDI FA reconciliation, however its up to the company to read the reconciliation reports and act upon them.

So, there you have the reasons why the EDI FA is one of the unsung heroes of the EDI world. I always recommend using the EDI FA for any and all EDI relationships as it can come in handy when dealing with time sensitive or high value transactions.


Tom Guzik