Flat files vs. EDI

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ERP
SAP development
I need to send purchase orders to vendors via EDI for R/3 v46B. Couldn't I just send a flat file (text file) containing the purchase orders to the vendors instead of using EDI? What is the difference between sending a flat file and EDI? Please post your thoughts!

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You can if your vendor agrees to it. The EDI process adds some security and assurance that that transactions have made it. Some vendors will only want to receive the transaction through a trading partner however, so it may be to you advantage to send as much data as you can to get a price break.

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  • Jacksoc
    You could also print the Purchase Order to a PDF file, and then send that - it would make it more secure than just sending a flat file of data, which could be edited or changed some way. EDI is more secure and you have the advantage of being able to do this for multiple vendors, as the message formats are standardized.
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  • Jacksoc
    You could also print the Purchase Order to a PDF file, and then send that - it would make it more secure than just sending a flat file of data, which could be edited or changed some way. EDI is more secure and you have the advantage of being able to do this for multiple vendors, as the message formats are standardized.
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  • Jacksoc
    You could also print the Purchase Order to a PDF file, and then send that - it would make it more secure than just sending a flat file of data, which could be edited or changed some way. EDI is more secure and you have the advantage of being able to do this for multiple vendors, as the message formats are standardized.
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  • KajBre
    The normal reason for using EDI messages is that a receiver's system is able to process just a limited number of messages or file types. They want to receice files from their business partners according to a certain message standard and format. This is the whole idea of using EDI or other standardized message types. If any file format would be accepted, the receiver should have a translation "engine" to handle every file type, which is obviously not very practical and gets expensive. Kaj B.
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  • Smiley
    The reason vendors insist on EDI is not ony for security, but it also elimates the need for re-entering the order in their system. EDI provides a set format that allows disparate systems to send and receive information without having to reenter it. All the fields in a purchase order, invoice, etc. are mapped and sent in a specific order so that the system receiving it know what the information is and what to do with it. The way this mapping is layed out in the file makes it different than a flat file.
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  • SteveL
    Hi, EDI uses flatfiles. At your end it translates your PO into a specific standardised flatfile format, handling things like packed data fields automatically. It then sends the flatfile (either to an intermediary mailbox service like GE, or directly to the supplier), and the supplier re-translates it into a file format their software can use. By using EDI you are using agreed formats for flatfiles (for various different purposes), and they build their own translation between their EDI package and their software system if it doesn't come with one already - some big ERP packages provide translators for EDI formats. If you generate a custom non-standard format flatfile, the supplier will neeed to build a custom translation process, which they might want to charge you for building. If you send a printed copy of the PO (a spoolfile), the supplier will have to manually import into a custom translation process (and again might want to charge for it) ormanually key the PO into their order entry system (which might incur a handling charge). If you are going to do this on a regular basis, you might find that some suppliers/customers will only handle orders via EDI. So decide how your business intends to deal with these suppliers/customers. It may be better to bite the bullet now and commit resources to getting up and running with EDI now, rather than later when your supplier/customer mix forces you to. Where is you business heading? Steve
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  • FerencMantfeld
    If you're using xReports the way Toyota and some other prominent V46 customers are, you could let the vendor decide and automate the process with very little fuss, store the vendors preference for format (PDF, Word, Excel, CSV, XML) and let the batch process decide at run time which format to choose for each vendor and pick up the delivery destination (email address, ftp or file drop) from the vendor data and take care of it all for you without you ever having to lift a finger besides the initial scheduling of the batch job. The typical time taken to set up something like this is under an hour with xReports. Hope that helps. Regards: Ferenc
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  • Solutions1
    You have other options and considerations, which should be shaped by business improvement objectives. With respect to choices, besides EDI "classic" and "flat files" you also have a number of XML options (e.g., see www.oasis-open.org and "Universal Business Language"( UBL). You also should think of the overall "choreography" - e.g. a purchase order typically follows a quote and precedes a shipping notice, receiving document and invoice, along with confirmations. If you send the order as a flat file of your own design, are you ready to accept a supplier's ship notice or invoice in a flat file of their own design? Ideally a "clean" order (decent format and reliable clean content) can set up a sequence of highly automated, productive transactions. There is no absolute "right" answer, but I suggest that you think seriously about working with your vendor to adopt a standards and XML-based choreography.
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  • Mcp111
    EDI ( Electronic Data Interchange ) is a standard protocol for exchanging data and is based on an industry-wide X12 data format. Whether you use EDI or not is entirely between you and your vendor. Nowadays many software packages can directly read EDI files and send the corresponding EDI response which is making it a very popular standard for data interchange.
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  • SillyITgirl
    I am very impressed with all the great responses. I cannot thank you enough and your info really helped me out! Flat file is a hassle and has less security. I would like to use SAP IDOC hopefully in the XML format. I hope the XML format would work for R/3 4.6B. Would anyone have a sample program in using ABAP to create an IDoc in XML format? Or maybe just a sample to create an XML file using ABAP? The overall choreography of a purchase order is very important. Thanks for pointing it out to me. Unfortunately, we do not use xReports which takes less time to implement. To print the purchase order to a PDF file is another option too. If anyone has anymore responses, you are welcome to it.Thank you again.
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  • ISolo2
    You may want to investigate the SAP BC (Business Connector). We have used it with SAP 4.6B to generate iDocs for EFT payments. SAP BC allows for full bi-directional communication to and from R/3. All SAP functionality accessible using BAPIs and IDocs can be made available to business partners over the Internet as secure XML-based services. It's powerful and reliable. I believe that there is no cost to license it for R/3, it's free.
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  • Kristincipolletti
    A SearchWebServices.com member recently responded to your question. Ahmed writes, "Hi sillyITgirl, Sorry for using ur id as i dont know ur name, u do want to use a flat file structure instead of EDI. There is always problem in parsing EDI or Text File as there is a need of specifying a structure of EDI or Text File. Instead of it, why dont u use XML Files instead of flat files. It is easy to use XML Files as it is quite easy to parse them instead of Flat Files i.e. Text Files."
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  • SillyITgirl
    Thank you for posting more responses! I may have to use SAP Business Connector. As to using XML, can anyone elaborate on it? I mean, would you use ABAP to generate XML? You don't need the IDoc format in XML, right? Would you have a sample program in ABAP converting to XML with its tag? Please post any further thoughts. Thanks!
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  • Solutions1
    There is an illustration of the iDoc and equivalent XML at the Redix site - http://www.redix.com/sap2211.htm. If you can, probably go with SAP Netweaver rather than Business Connector, which is sailing into its "sunset." See http://www.asug.com/client_files/Calendar/Upload/293,11,SAP XI: Middleware Architecture Reality
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  • EECOMSOL
    Obviously, as you can see by the amount of response you have received; you have asked an old age question that has been in existence since the inception of EDI. Another thing obvious about your question is that, there are, currently multiple options available to you to accomplish your objective. To go back to you original question ?EDI vs. Flat File?, everyone has expressed feedbacks on Benefits, Standardization, Automation and also Cost Savings presented by EDI to some extent. SAP has a very robust EDI and ALE and IDOC interface to Third-Party vendors that integrate with SAP R/3, including XML, BAPI, BC, Netweaver, rfcexec etc. So your choice and options are very broad. As for interface to your vendors, the world is your oyster. AS2, VAN, FTP, Extranet, UCCNet etc? These are some of the available network and business integration interfaces you can develop with you business partners. My last advice to you in your decision making process right now, will be to make sure that whatever decision you go with is in line with your overall company strategy so you can avoid throw away work. Your decision could impact your long-term relationship with your business partners. Good Luck and Keep Plugging...!
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  • EECOMSOL
    Obviously, as you can see by the amount of response you have received; you have asked an old age question that has been in existence since the inception of EDI. Another thing obvious about your question is that, there are, currently multiple options available to you to accomplish your objective. To go back to you original question ?EDI vs. Flat File?, everyone has expressed feedbacks on Benefits, Standardization, Automation and also Cost Savings presented by EDI to some extent. SAP has a very robust EDI and ALE and IDOC interface to Third-Party vendors that integrate with SAP R/3, including XML, BAPI, BC, Netweaver, rfcexec etc. So your choice and options are very broad. As for interface to your vendors, the world is your oyster. AS2, VAN, FTP, Extranet, UCCNet etc? These are some of the available network and business integration interfaces you can develop with you business partners. My last advice to you in your decision making process right now, will be to make sure that whatever decision you go with is in line with your overall company strategy so you can avoid throw away work. Your decision could impact your long-term relationship with your business partners. Good Luck and Keep Plugging...!
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  • EECOMSOL
    Obviously, as you can see by the amount of response you have received; you have asked an old age question that has been in existence since the inception of EDI. Another thing obvious about your question is that, there are, currently multiple options available to you to accomplish your objective. To go back to you original question ?EDI vs. Flat File?, everyone has expressed feedbacks on Benefits, Standardization, Automation and also Cost Savings presented by EDI to some extent. SAP has a very robust EDI and ALE and IDOC interface to Third-Party vendors that integrate with SAP R/3, including XML, BAPI, BC, Netweaver, rfcexec etc. So your choice and options are very broad. As for interface to your vendors, the world is your oyster. AS2, VAN, FTP, Extranet, UCCNet etc? These are some of the available network and business integration interfaces you can develop with you business partners. My last advice to you in your decision making process right now, will be to make sure that whatever decision you go with is in line with your overall company strategy so you can avoid throw away work. Your decision could impact your long-term relationship with your business partners. Good Luck and Keep Plugging...!
    0 pointsBadges:
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  • EECOMSOL
    Obviously, as you can see by the amount of response you have received; you have asked an old age question that has been in existence since the inception of EDI. Another thing obvious about your question is that, there are, currently multiple options available to you to accomplish your objective. To go back to you original question ?EDI vs. Flat File?, everyone has expressed feedbacks on Benefits, Standardization, Automation and also Cost Savings presented by EDI to some extent. And they are correct. SAP has a very robust EDI and ALE and IDOC interface to Third-Party vendors that integrate with SAP R/3, including XML, BAPI, BC, Netweaver, rfcexec etc. So your choice and options are very broad. As for interface to your vendors, the world is your oyster. AS2, VAN, FTP, Extranet, UCCNet etc? These are some of the available network and business integration interfaces you can develop with you business partners. My last advice to you in your decision making process right now, will be to make sure that whatever decision you go with is in line with your overall company strategy so you can avoid throw away work. Your decision could impact your long-term relationship with your business partners. Good Luck and Keep Plugging...!
    0 pointsBadges:
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  • EECOMSOL
    Obviously, as you can see by the amount of response you have received; you have asked an old age question that has been in existence since the inception of EDI. Another thing obvious about your question is that, there are, currently multiple options available to you to accomplish your objective. To go back to you original question ?EDI vs. Flat File?, everyone has expressed feedbacks on Benefits, Standardization, Automation and also Cost Savings presented by EDI to some extent. And they are correct. SAP has a very robust EDI and ALE and IDOC interface to Third-Party vendors that integrate with SAP R/3, including XML, BAPI, BC, Netweaver, rfcexec etc. So your choice and options are very broad. As for interface to your vendors, the world is your oyster. AS2, VAN, FTP, Extranet, UCCNet etc? These are some of the available network and business integration interfaces you can develop with you business partners. My last advice to you in your decision making process right now, will be to make sure that whatever decision you go with is in line with your overall company strategy so you can avoid throw away work. Your decision could impact your long-term relationship with your business partners. Good Luck and Keep Plugging...!
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  • EECOMSOL
    Obviously, as you can see by the amount of response you have received; you have asked an old age question that has been in existence since the inception of EDI. Another thing obvious about your question is that, there are, currently multiple options available to you to accomplish your objective. To go back to you original question ?EDI vs. Flat File?, everyone has expressed feedbacks on Benefits, Standardization, Automation and also Cost Savings presented by EDI to some extent; and they are correct. SAP has a very robust EDI and ALE and IDOC interface to Third-Party vendors that integrate with SAP R/3, including XML, BAPI, BC, Netweaver, rfcexec etc. So your choice and options are very broad. As for interface to your vendors, the world is your oyster. AS2, VAN, FTP, Extranet, UCCNet etc? These are some of the available network and business integration interfaces you can develop with you business partners. My last advice to you in your decision making process right now, will be to make sure that whatever decision you go with is in line with your overall company strategy so you can avoid throw away work. Your decision could impact your long-term relationship with your business partners. Good Luck and Keep Plugging...!
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • EECOMSOL
    Obviously, as you can see by the amount of response you have received; you have asked an old age question that has been in existence since the inception of EDI. Another thing obvious about your question is that, there are, currently multiple options available to you to accomplish your objective. To go back to you original question ?EDI vs. Flat File?, everyone has expressed feedbacks on Benefits, Standardization, Automation and also Cost Savings presented by EDI to some extent. And they are correct. SAP has a very robust EDI and ALE and IDOC interface to Third-Party vendors that integrate with SAP R/3, including XML, BAPI, BC, Netweaver, rfcexec etc. So your choice and options are very broad. As for interface to your vendors, the world is your oyster. AS2, VAN, FTP, Extranet, UCCNet etc? These are some of the available network and business integration interfaces you can develop with you business partners. My last advice to you in your decision making process right now, will be to make sure that whatever decision you go with is in line with your overall company strategy so you can avoid throw away work. Your decision could impact your long-term relationship with your business partners. Good Luck and Keep Plugging...!
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • EECOMSOL
    Obviously, as you can see by the amount of response you have received; you have asked an old age question that has been in existence since the inception of EDI. Another thing obvious about your question is that, there are, currently multiple options available to you to accomplish your objective. To go back to you original question ?EDI vs. Flat File?, everyone has expressed feedbacks on Benefits, Standardization, Automation and also Cost Savings presented by EDI to some extent. And they are correct. SAP has a very robust EDI and ALE and IDOC interface to Third-Party vendors that integrate with SAP R/3, including XML, BAPI, BC, Netweaver, rfcexec etc. So your choice and options are very broad. As for interface to your vendors, the world is your oyster. AS2, VAN, FTP, Extranet, UCCNet etc? These are some of the available network and business integration interfaces you can develop with you business partners. My last advice to you in your decision making process right now, will be to make sure that whatever decision you go with is in line with your overall company strategy so you can avoid throw away work. Your decision could impact your long-term relationship with your business partners. Good Luck and Keep Plugging...!
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  • Jpagel
    i'm sorry could you repeat that?? lol have problems using a forumn...? obviously...
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