Electronic Data Interchange

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Electronic Data Interchange: An Overview of EDI Standards for Libraries (1993) 2. EDI STANDARDS Electronic Data Interchange is intended to handle all aspects of business transactions such as ordering, acknowledgements, pricing, status, scheduling, shipping, receiving, invoices, payments, and financial reporting. One of the principal aims of EDI has been to develop electronic surrogates for the myriad of paper forms used in commercial transactions such as purchase orders, bills of lading, and inv
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  Electronic Data Interchange: An Overview of EDIStandards for Libraries (1993)   2. EDI STANDARDS    Electronic Data Interchange is intended to handle all aspects of business transactions such asordering, acknowledgements, pricing, status, scheduling, shipping, receiving, invoices,payments, and financial reporting. One of the principal aims of EDI has been to developelectronic surrogates for the myriad of paper forms used in commercial transactions such aspurchase orders, bills of lading, and invoices. Since the early 1970's, efforts have been underwayto develop standardized data formats for business transactions.This chapter will describe the two main EDI standards that are currently used in North Americaand Europe; the ASC X12 group of standards supported by the American National StandardsInstitute (ANSI) and the EDIFACT standards supported by the United Nations EconomicCommission for Europe (UN/ECE).The authors acknowledge that this chapter includes a great deal of terminology and reaches alevel of detail that may not be of interest to all readers. It is included as a primer for thoseinterested in learning more about the specifics of EDI standards and their components. 2.1 Components of EDI Standards   The following outlines the three basic structural components of EDI standards. Both the ANSIX12 and EDIFACT standards are based on these components.1.   A syntax and encoding scheme for messages which specifies the structure of data.  The data should be independent of systems, machine and media constraints and shouldallow for human interpretation of the data transferred. As well, the data elements orgroupings which are part of standard messages should be independent of each other sothat one part may be changed without affecting any other part.2.   A data dictionary. This component of EDI standards defines the standard business dataelements, such as date, time, delivery address, and currency used to create messages.3.   Combinations of data elements to be used for standard messages. A paper invoice,for instance, normally consists of a header portion stating the name and address of thebilling party, the name and address of the paying party, the date of the invoice, anaccount number, etc. There is then a detail portion which consists of a series of invoicelines, each giving details of a billed transaction such as date, order number, number of units, item number, item description, unit price, and total price. There may also be asummary portion which gives totals. Each of these sections has an equivalent in EDIformat with data elements combined into segments and segments combined into messages . 2.2 ANSI X12    2.2.1 American National Standards Institute   The American National Standards Institute or ANSI was founded in 1918 as the coordinator fornational standards in the United States. The U.S. voluntary standards system consists of a largenumber of standards developers that write and maintain one or more national standards. Thestandards developers include representatives from professional societies, trade associations,government agencies and all facets of trade and commerce.ANSI itself does not develop standards but provides a forum for all concerned interests toidentify standards needs, plan to meet these needs and agree on standards. ANSI is also the U.S.member of non-treaty international standards organizations such as the InternationalOrganization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC).As such, ANSI coordinates U.S. participation in these groups. 2.2.2 Accredited Standards Committee (ASC X12)   ASC X12 is the ANSI Accredited Standards Committee charged with developing EDI standardsfor use in the United States. The committee develops standards to facilitate electronicinterchange relating to such business transactions as order placement and processing, shippingand receiving, invoicing payment and cash application data. The work of ASC X12 is conductedprimarily by a series of subcommittees and task groups whose recommendations are presentedperiodically to the full ASC X12 Committee for ratification (Data Interchange StandardsAssociation, 1990).The Data Interchange Standards Association (DISA) serves as the secretariat for ASC X12.DISA's activities include communicating with ANSI and the public on behalf of the ASC X12committee, organizing X12 meetings and publishing the X12 standards. To obtain ASC X12standards or further information on ASC X12 activities contact:  ASC X12 Secretariat  Data Interchange Association, Inc.1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 355 Alexandra, Virginia22314-28552U.S.A.Telephone: (703) 548-7005 Once a year, DISA publishes the entire set of X12 standards in a single volume, called a release.This includes revisions of previously published standards, as well as new draft standardsapproved by ASC X12 during the year (referred to as Draft Standards for Trial Use). Releasesare not considered American National Standards until they have undergone the ANSI-requiredpublic review process. ASC X12 uses the releases in order to make the approved draft standardavailable to users on a more frequent schedule. The Draft Standards for Trial Use are reviewedby ANSI every three years. Once approved they are adopted as American National Standards. 2.2.3 The X12 Series of Standards    The X12 series of standards consist of a number of interdependent standards. The transaction setstandards define the grouping of data into segments and the sequence of these segments to beused in a specified business transaction such as a purchase order. There are also the 'foundation'standards which define the syntax to be used in defining X12 transaction sets as well as the dataelements, data segments, and control structures to be used. The full set of foundation standardsrequired to interpret, understand and use the X12 series of transaction set standards, consists of:    Data element dictionary (X12.3)    Interchange control structure (X12.5)    Application control structure (X12.6)    Data Segment Directory (X12.22)    Functional Acknowledgment (X.20) 2.2.4 X12 Syntax and Message Structure The X12 standards are based on the principle of the exchange of messages betweencommunicating parties which is an extension of the traditional business practice of exchangingforms by mail. The EDI message unit in X12 is known as a transaction set , presumablybecause it is a set of data segments used for a single business transaction.The ASC X12 standards specify:    the segments used in a transaction set,    the sequence in which the segments must appear    whether segments are mandatory or optional,    when segments can be repeated    how loops are structured and usedX12 message formats consist of the following components (refer to Figure 2.1).Interchange Control StructuresFunctional GroupsTransaction SetsSegmentsData elements Interchange Control Segments  These segments constitute the electronic structure which surrounds the transaction sets to betransmitted. They signal the beginning and end of organizational units of information within themessage but do not contain data relevant to the EDI transaction. They indicate the sender of themessage, the intended recipient, the date and time of transmission and the version of X12 in use.The other type of control segment is associated with loops of segments that may be repeatedwithin a message. A loop would be used to indicate the names and addresses of various parties ina purchase order transaction, if the billing address is different from the shipping address for a  particular order. The loop header and loop trailer segments indicate the start of the loop and theend of the loop (Bass, 1991).Figure 2.1 - Components of an X12 Transaction (58K) Functional Groups  A functional group is a group of similar transaction sets (eg. three purchase orders). For example,an X12 interchange could consist of a functional group of purchase orders and a functional groupof payment advices (refer to Figure 2.1). The receipt of an X12 interchange, functional group andtransaction set must be acknowledged by means of functional acknowledgment. This indicates tothe sender whether or not the interchange was received and whether the syntax can be processed. Transaction Set  A business transaction is defined by a transaction set composed of a number of segments of variable length. Each segment is in turn composed of a number of data elements of variablelengths. A transaction set is analogous to a business document such as a purchase order, while asegment is analogous to a line of information in that purchase order and a data element isanalogous to unit of information in the item line. For example, in the purchase order for a book,the number of copies requested or the unit price would be represented by data elements.Each transaction set starts with a transaction set header (ST), followed by a beginning segment that uniquely identifies the type of transaction set. The transaction set header contains thetransaction set identification and transaction set control number. This is followed by othersegments (which may also be found in other transaction sets) and concluded by a transaction settrailer. The transaction set trailer (SE) is the last element in the transaction set. It defines the endof the transaction set and contains the number of segments included and the transaction setcontrol number.The transaction set identifier is a three-digit number by which the transaction set is known inboth printed and electronic documentation. For example, the purchase order transaction set istransaction set 850. Each transaction set has three general areas:1.   Header area - contains segments with information common to the entire document2.   Detail or line item area - contains segments which provide detailed information such asquantity and price. The sequence of segments may form a loop which may be repeated upto a predefined maximum number of times. Each loop would roughly correspond to eachitem line of a paper invoice.3.   Summary area - contains summary information such as total price.A transaction set specification indicates the segments used and the order in which they appear. Asegment is specified to be included in a transaction set by citing its identifier as assigned in theData Segment Directory. Some segments appear in every transaction set (e.g. PER, Administrative Communications Contact , i.e. PERson to contact) while others are used in onlya single transaction set.
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