SAP Electronic Data Interchange (SAP EDI) can be a game changer for companies in industries, like Retail, Manufacturing, and Healthcare, that rely on monitoring, managing, and optimizing business transactions between trading partners.

Read on to learn more about using EDI in SAP to reduce the amount of manual work for your internal employees, exchange master data more efficiently between systems, and make the most of your SAP technology investment in the long run.

What is EDI?

EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange, refers to the exchange of electronic documents between organizations designed to help businesses exchange information (i.e., purchase orders, invoices, shipment notices, and other transactional business documents) without the need for human intervention.

EDI allows companies to streamline their internal supply chain processes, reduce errors associated with business tasks, improve the accuracy of their business data, and speed up transaction processing times.

How Does EDI Work in SAP?

EDI is used across the SAP ERP system to facilitate more efficient internal transactions and automate the exchange of business documents between SAP systems and external, third-party applications, tools, and interfaces.

There are a few main components of SAP EDI, including…

  • EDI Subsystem: This feature is responsible for converting information from the IDoc interface into EDI messages and converting EDI message formats back to IDoc types (Note: This component is not automatically supplied by SAP as a part of the internal EDI architecture, so users must access and enable it on their own.)
  • EDI-Enabled Applications: These different applications provide auto-processing capabilities that enable users to monitor, manage, and process transactions for trades and sales more easily and efficiently.
  • IDoc Interface: This open interface has Intermediate Document (IDoc) types and functional modules designed to simplify the internal structural and design elements involved in creating interfaces for applications in SAP systems.

SAP EDI systems can be configured and customized to handle various communication protocols such as email, AS2, and FTP. SAP EDI also supports various EDI formatting options, such as ANSI X12 and EDIFACT, and offers an EDI converter tool to simplify conversions between Idoc Types and the traditional EDI format..

Integrations between SAP EDI and other SAP modules, like SAP Process Integration, SAP Process Orchestration, SAP Material Management (MM), or SAP Sales and Distribution (SD), allow for streamlined supply and inventory control, reduced processing errors, and improved efficiency across business units.

Main Phases of EDI Communication in SAP

1) EDI Mapping

The first step is to map the EDI formats used by external partners to the internal formats used by SAP to ensure the data in the EDI documents is accurately and efficiently transferred to the appropriate fields within each SAP document.

2) Inbound Processing

Inbound processing involves receiving EDI documents from external partners and using interchange capabilities to convert them into SAP internal formats for further processing.

The inbound processing step includes organizing and validating inbound documents and creating SAP documents associated with the EDI data being processed and transferred.

3) Outbound Processing

Outbound processing involves sending SAP documents to external partners in the EDI format required by each company, and it involves converting SAP documents into company-specific EDI formats and transmitting them through secure and reliable communication channels.

4) Monitoring and Error Management

SAP EDI provides monitoring capabilities used to track the status of inbound and outbound transactions, flag any errors or discrepancies in the data, and resolve them using either automated or manual processes according to each company’s needs.

Inbound vs Outbound Processing in SAP

What is Inbound Processing?

  1. Incoming EDI documents: SAP EDI software can receive EDI documents in different formats, such as ANSI X12, EDIFACT, or XML, and the incoming documents are validated against predefined rules to ensure that they conform to the required format, contain the necessary data, and are free from internal errors.
  2. Creation of SAP documents: Once the incoming EDI documents are validated, SAP EDI creates associated SAP documents and maps the data from the EDI documents to the appropriate fields in SAP to ensure data is accurate and consistent, eliminate manual data entry, and reduce risk of processing or transaction errors.

What is Outbound Processing?

  1. Conversion of SAP Documents: SAP EDI helps users convert SAP documents into EDI formats required by external partners and maps the data from the SAP documents to the appropriate locations in the EDI documents to maintain data accuracy and integrity and reduce total transaction costs across the system.
  2. Transmission of EDI documents: SAP EDI also transmits SAP documents to external partners using AS2, FTP, or email securely and reliably across SAP systems and provides notifications to the user when the documents have been successfully sent. This way, users can monitor the status of their outbound transactions and take appropriate action to resolve issues if necessary.

Commonly Used SAP EDI Transaction Codes

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the most commonly used EDI data codes in SAP…

  • WEDI: IDoc Type and EDI Basis Management
  • STMS: Transport Management System
  • XD01: Create Customer Master Record
  • BD71: Distribute Customer Model
  • SM31: Table Maintenance
  • SM50: Process Overview
  • WE46: IDoc Administration
  • WE81: Create new IDoc Message Types

How Can We Help?

Whether you need help outlining plans for electronic data interchange throughout your SAP ERP system, additional support leveraging both Application Link Enabling (ALE) and EDI processes across your organization, or an extra hand converting intermediate documents (IDocs) to EDI formats in your SAP system, Surety Systems is here to help.

Getting Started with Us

Our team of senior-level SAP consultants has the technical skills and real-world experience you need to manage and transfer electronic documents between SAP systems and trading partners (and find success in doing so.)

And, even better, we’ve included a sample profile of one of our best SAP consultants to help you know what to expect with our team…

Surety Senior SAP EDI Consultant

  • US Citizen
  • 20+ years of cumulative EDI experience
  • Senior SAP Developer / Architect with 15+ years of experience in SAP XI/PI/PO
  • Strong EDI Analyst, Mapping, & Programming using SAP
  • Extensive background in multiple functional areas as they relate to IDCOS, including SD, MM, FI, PP, WM, QM, and APO
  • Excels with Inbound/Outbound EDI Transactions, including setting up new Trading Partners

Contact us today to get started with one of our expert SAP consultants!