Uniform EDI Standards – Ensuring Effective Exchange of Information between Computer Systems

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is an important part of being successful in business in today’s interconnected global economy. To maintain competiveness, it’s absolutely necessary you have a flawless electronic exchange of business information between you and your suppliers, vendors and customers.

To help achieve this end, standards for exchanging business information have been developed, which are referred to as ASC-X12 in the United States. ASC-X12 is actually a group formed in 1979 by the American National Standards Association to develop a uniform standard for inter-industry electronic exchange of business transactions.

X12 standards establish a common, uniform language that facilitates transactions

The ASC-X 12 committees, the ones who establish and maintain these languages, meet three times a year to develop and maintain their respective language. Working with other organizations and stakeholders, they develop user-friendly standards that aid electronic business transactions such as order processing, payment collections and shipping. ASC-X12 standards allow data to move with and among various entities in the financial, insurance, education and governmental sectors.

Whether another computer is in the next room or across the world, X12 standards make it possible to conduct almost any business-to-business transaction. There are currently 275 unique transaction sets covering common business activities in a wide array of industries.

Different subcommittees within the ASC-X12 committee collaborate, publish and support EDI standards in their respective areas. Industry representatives, EDI specialists and other stakeholders within the subcommittee negotiate and build consensus as they develop and publish EDI X12 standards.

These subcommittees include:

  1. Communications and Control (X12C) – Manages different general aspects of EDI standards like EDI architecture, service specs and transaction sets for management. They develop design rules and act as X12’s liaison to related national and international organizations.
  2. Transportation (X12I) – Develops standards for various modes of transportation, including logistics, multimodal transportation and even the U.S. Customs agency. The subcommittee consults with other transportation related organizations that use EDI transportation standards.
  3. Finance (X12F) – Involves developing and maintaining EDI standards for credit cards, financial remittance delivery, invoicing, payment transaction and real estate transactions. In addition to developing these standards, the X12F committee promotes the adoption and use of these standards across the industry.
  4. Insurance (X12N) – Develops EDI standards for all aspects of insurance, including property, casualty, auto, health, life, annuity, reinsurance and even regulatory reporting. Activities are coordinated with insurance industry standards associations like HL7 and the NCPDP.
  5. Government (X12G) – Helps develop EDI standards for a seamless electronic exchange of information among all levels of government, including private sector contractors. Contracting, vehicle fleet reporting, revenue reporting and voter registration are a few examples of an X12G transaction set.

Providing user friendly EDI standards in a timely manner is a central objective for the ASC-X12 committee. These sets are designed to support the maximum number of users simply and efficiently. The committee hopes to one day develop and implement a single EDI standard for the entire world.

Bookmark and check back with the EDI consulting knowledge center from Innovative Architects and learn more about EDI standards and how they streamline business processes.