How to Avoid Common EDI Implementation Pitfalls

  • by Scott Etkin, Managing Editor, Data Informed
  • February 27, 2014
A seasoned electronic data interchange (EDI) expert shares tips based on his experience with two implementations in two different industries.
Learning Objectives

By reading this article you will learn how to:

  • Avoid mistakes during an EDI implementation
  • Follow tips for onboarding and other stages of an EDI implementation
Key Concept

Electronic data interchange (EDI) is a process for exchanging data in a mutually agreed upon format such EDIFACT, text, or HTML. Electronic Data Interchange For Administration, Commerce, and Transport (EDIFACT) is the international EDI standard format, developed under the United Nations for data interchange. All partners may be using different systems, so converting data from their formats to an agreed upon format is done through middleware.


Planning is the most important phase of an EDI implementation, and it should be done carefully to ensure success.
– Sandeep Kumar, Lead Consultant, Infosys 

Sandeep Kumar, a lead consultant at Infosys, has been involved in EDI implementations at two different organizations in two different industries. To have him share lessons learned from his experience during these projects, I asked him a series of questions about challenges companies face when implementing EDI and what best practices he recommends for companies to follow during their projects.

What would you say is the biggest mistake companies make in an EDI implementation?

The most common cause of EDI implementation mishaps is poor planning. If EDI experts are not involved during the planning phase, many details can be overlooked. Here are some examples of problems caused by poor planning:

  • Developmental delays: Each implementation consists of various phases. Development and testing are the biggest parts of the implementation in terms of cost. During planning, estimating cost and time is done for the development and testing phases. Development and testing phases are back to back. If development is delayed, then testing is also delayed. All the development and testing resources are engaged for that estimated period of time. An EDI expert understands the requirement and can estimate the efforts required for development and testing.
  • Testing delays: The sequence of testing activities is also very important. For example, invoicing activity can be tested after procurement activity so you cannot test a procure-to-pay (P2P) business cycle unless both activities are completed from a development perspective. However, the order-to-cash (OTC) business cycle is not dependent on the P2P business cycle, so after development on OTC is complete, you can start testing even if development in P2P is still in progress. In integration testing each business cycle is tested end to end. An EDI expert knows which business cycle’s development is complete and that testing can be started for that cycle before the development phase is finished. This knowledge can help an organization compress the implementation timeframe and absorb the developmental delays.
  • Gaps in interfacing with other teams: The EDI experts have the experience to involve other teams at appropriate times. EDI experts deal with interfacing with multiple client teams as well as the clients’ trading partners’ teams.
  • Design gaps: Incorrect design decisions lead to a significant increase in effort needed to fix the loopholes and make future developments more difficult.

Scott Etkin

Scott Etkin is the managing editor of Data Informed. He's an award-winning journalist with a Master's degree in journalism and more years of experience writing and editing for newspapers and magazines than he cares to admit. In his free time, he's usually either playing guitar or on a baseball field.

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