In the modern era where the data is being more digitized, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is increasingly used to exchange information between the business entities referred to as trading partners. EDI ensures the exchange of data in a standard format.
The most common documents exchanged as EDI documents are purchase orders, invoices, and advance ship notices. Customs documents, inventory documents, shipping documents, and payment documents are exchanged as EDI as well.
There is an emphasis on standard procedures as these EDI documents are processed via computers. Some of the popular EDI standards include ANSI, EDIFACT, etc. It is also mandatory for the trading partners to use the same standard format and version while communicating.
A major US healthcare client was experiencing challenges in EDI testing wherein there were issues with efficiently analyzing EDI files for variances. The client was looking to achieve optimal automation in EDI testing to increase efficiency.
As the EDI specifications are complex, manual testing is quite error-prone as well as time-consuming. The growing volume of EDI slows down the validation process. Manual mock-up of transactional files is not an error-proof process and requires a subject-matter expert’s (SME) intervention to know the dependencies and compliance guidelines.
Need for EDI automation
- Multiple processing steps introduce multiple error points reducing accuracy
- Increased cost arises due to the complexity and large volume of files
- Requires an SME who can understand the EDI file formats
- Needs to validate complex relational data
- Time-consuming manual tests are prone to error
The tools which are available for EDI automation focus mainly on different aspects of analysis and validation. Some of the tools only focus on EDI validation for specific domains. It indicates a definite need for automation tools that provide end-to-end testing of EDI.
Benefits of EDI automation
- Large volumes of data can be efficiently worked upon, allowing the testers to focus on the analysis using reports
- Automation eliminates the need for human intervention, thereby reducing error
- Turn-around time reduces significantly due to faster file processing and report management
- The cost of automation is low
- Automation also eliminates the need for SMEs
In conclusion, since EDI transactions are used to exchange data more often than not, they have become an integral part of the business processes and stay the preferred means of communication since the need for automation has become a must. Automation can alleviate the challenges of EDI in terms of complexity, volume, and accuracy. It also provides an end-to-end solution for EDI testing that mainly involves the generation of mock-up EDI files for performance testing, validation and reporting of EDI data, translation of EDI files to standard formats like JSON, and encryption of sensitive information.