How EDI Keeps The Invoice Data Flowing

Data sharing with business partners, particularly suppliers, has evolved from a beneficial strategy that drives efficiency, to a vital way to keep business operations moving amid the pandemic.

When employees cannot be physically in an office to send or receive paper invoices and purchase orders, the ability to electronically transmit data on those documents to the appropriate business partner is key as work-from-home requirements continue.

The challenge, however, quickly emerges when it becomes clear that each organization has different infrastructures and systems. While it may be relatively straightforward to digitize a document, enabling back-office platforms to integrate that data and make sense of it can be a headache.

In a recent chat with PYMNTS, TIE Kinetix CEO Jan Sundelin discussed the role that EDI (electronic data interchange) solutions play in helping to drive digitization of the enterprise, lower costs, and support greater efficiency in B2B workflows.

The Value Of EDI

EDI technology is one way to facilitate the exchange of electronic data from one business to another in a standardized format, enabling back-end systems to actually ingest and understand the information being shared.

This is critical in areas like accounts payable and accounts receivable, in which paper-based purchase orders and invoices can not only demand significant amounts of time to process, but can also be quite expensive, according to Sundelin.

"If you send a paper invoice, it can take $35 to handle that document with everyone involved, to get it approved and scanned and brought around for payment," he said. "Any EDI message is below 20 cents. It's a huge cost savings."

EDI connectivity can also facilitate direct integrations into platforms like ERP systems, which can inject even greater efficiencies into various back office workflows. Most recently, TIE Kinetix announced an expansion of its partnership with To-Increase, broadening the availability of their solution that allows users of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP solution to directly access TIE Kinetix's FLOW Partner Automation platform.

The result, explained Sundelin, is that ERP users can gain an integrated ERP solution without having to toggle from one platform to another, a feature that supports the need for holistic data management strategies.

Achieving Data Clarity

EDI has been around for decades, and indeed, some critics argue that it's an antiquated technology that will be phased out by newer data connectivity technologies like APIs.

Sundelin disagrees, however, pointing to EDI as the standard of preference for so many organizations today, particularly big box retailers across the U.S. that have the leverage to require EDI adoption from their supplier base.

There is no silver bullet to achieving a wholly integrated, streamlined and standardized data connection from one business to another. With other data formats like XML at play, organizations need solutions that can support a range of standards to achieve effective connectivity. And, with so many proprietary EDI systems in place, businesses and their suppliers need technology to support each means of data communication.

Such technologies will continue to become more important as initiatives like the Peppol Network, launched by the European commission to standardize electronic invoices, proliferate to new markets around the world. According to Sundelin, public sector-led efforts to standardize electronic data and the way it's transmitted can permeate the private sector. With the global pandemic accelerating digital transformation, achieving seamless data connectivity between business partners in a way that allows a remote workforce to keep businesses in motion is more important than ever before.

This article was originally published on January 13, 2021, by PYMNTS

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