EDI Mapping and Translation
Mapping is a movement of information – basically of putting the format of one data document onto another. For instance, it takes the format of an otherwise incompatible data format and makes it into an EDI compatible data document, or conversely, takes an EDI document and makes it readable. There are various tools on the market for doing such tasks, which are readily available through the Internet or at an EDI support centre.
These mapping tasks require software, as it is bringing in line a foreign piece of documentation with EDI standards. The following diagram intends to show how mapping services would be a middle man between companies that have the ability to use and read EDI and those that do not.
A mapping service allows EDI documents basically to be “copied” onto another differently formatted document such as EDI to spreadsheet – which goes from the electronically transmitted message form to one that may be read easily by a person without EDI knowledge.
The mapping services are mostly able to integrate directly with one or multiple systems within the organization such as ERP software, warehouse management system, CRM, or any other back end system or database. It can also be integrated via direct database connection, flat file or XML file.
Companies offer different input options and pathways of integration. Data is able to be translated to any data format, such as EDI, X12, EDIFACT, or various versions of XML. The communication options are also fairly flexible, as companies use different methods. Mapping can occur through Internet EDI, Web Forms, FTP’s, HTTP’s and traditional VANs.
EDI is used to exchange business information and documents in standard electronic formats using computers. Translation software helps in this exchange by converting data extracted from the application data base into a standard EDI format for transmission to one or more trading partners.
EDI- formatted data received from the same trading partners can be converted into a file format your application system recognizes. This data is then processed and written onto your database. It is important to understand the structure of the EDI translation process.
The EDI translation process depicts data transfer from the Company database to Flat file to EDI translator to EDI-formatted data through the transmission system to EDI-formatted data to the EDI translator to the Flat file to the Trading Partner’s data base. This software then allows for any document sent from a trading partner to be translated and read.
EDI for the layman can be a complicated and frustrating experience if having to implement and install the software required for EDI transmission. However, there are various companies which provide technical support for businesses and industries interested in EDI.
These systems can run with or without software, and come with a range of options to suit the organization. Outsourcing EDI support can alleviate a business of a technical which most likely would not require an on staff member. As such, EDI outsourcing provides the technical support without the payroll cost.
Outsourcing can help to bridge technology gaps for companies and businesses and give them a fresh look on how industries are operating in the new wave of complimentary and combined technologies. The four phases of the sourcing cycle: sourcing strategy; evaluation and selection; contract development; and sourcing management should be examined prior to selecting an outsourcing agency. These phases will help to secure an agency which is best suited to the business or corporation.
Outsourcing agencies can provide best practice evaluation, and manage existing outsourcing with reference to organizational models. Outsourcing agencies also provide data conversion systems and translations, which provide solutions to facilitating communication between multiple platforms with multiple file formats.
These conversion tools can facilitate both internal and external communication. Outsourcing agents can also provide strategic assessment and planning; architecture review; project management; recovery planning; gap analysis; product operations; new technology consulting; and education and training.
These services can allow a company to improve management and streamline a company’s output. In this increasingly internet based age, agencies should be able to also provide web based systems, which can improve communication with trading partners.
Outsourcing for EDI is used within the health sector, shipping and transport, manufacturing, and e-business. Outsourcing enables a company or business to delegate the responsibility of the EDI to an expert with intimate knowledge of the system. As it is an evolving system, with links to other transmission systems, EDI can be somewhat complex in its setup for the uninitiated.
Many outsourcing companies will also act as the VAN or Value-Added Network, which is similar to a storing house for data transmissions. These aid in keeping the data transmission system efficient, and do not rely on the sender to provide repeat transmissions when the receiver is unavailable. Outsourcing agents can also provide the email server for Internet EDI.
Software applications and those who are able to make them work are intrinsic to enabling EDI to become a major force within business life. It creates flexibility and a malleability which is essential to the day to day business process. Without these software applications, EDI would be as a lone boat in an ocean. It would not be connected to anything and therefore unable to communicate. These software applications are as ropes that attach EDI to other computers and the Internet, which enables the easy communication.
The mapping and translation applications allow all of the different standards to be sent and received, which is at the heart of EDI, in that the EDI documents are just one part of the whole process. These documents can stand alone, but require the mapping and translation applications to allow them to be understood. EDI is powerful in any business enterprise, which allows for efficient and concise information exchanges, and creates better networks between trading partners.