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The Variations Between EDI X12 and EDIFACT

Question: Hi Roger, we recently got a contract to supply an organization in Germany which will require EDI. This would normally be no problem to us as we have been doing EDI with our North American trading partners for over four years; however, our new German contract requires us to use EDIFACT rather than X12 as their preferred EDI standard. Could you highlight the main differences between X12 and EDIFACT and suggest what I should do?

Answer: In 1979 the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) chartered the Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12 to develop uniform standards for inter-industry electronic exchange of business transactions – now known commonly as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). These transaction sets, abbreviated to X12, are the predominant EDI standards used by organizations in North America today.

In 1986, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) approved the acronym “UN/EDIFACT,” which translates to United Nations Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport. UN/EDIFACT is an international EDI standard designed to meet the needs of both government and private industry. EDIFACT is the most popular worldwide EDI data standard outside of North America.

Here is a brief list of some of the different names given to documents in the X12 and EDIFACT transactions sets. You will notice that X12 assigns numeric values to documents whereas EDIFACT lists names or abbreviations.

Product / Pricing TransactionsX12EDIFACT
     › Price Sales Catalog832PRICAT
     › Price Authorization Acknowledgement / Status845ATHSTS
     › Specification / Technical Information841PRDSPE
     › Request for Quotation840REQOTE
Ordering Transactions
     › Purchase Order850ORDERS
     › Purchase Order Acknowledgement855ORDRSP
     › Purchase Order Change860ORDCHG
     › Purchase Order Change Acknowledgement865ORDRSP
Materials Management Transactions
     › Planning Schedule/Material Release830DELFOR
     › Shipping Schedule862DELJIT
     › Production Sequence866
     › Ship Notice/manifest (ASN)856DESADV
Shipping / Recieving Transactions
     › Shipment Information (Bill of Lading)858IFTMCS
     › Receiving Advice861RECADV
     › Non-conformance Information-Disposition842NONCON
Inventory Management Transactions
     › Inventory Inquiry/Advice846INVRPT
     › Product Transfer and Resale Report867SLSRPT
Financial Transactions
     › Invoice810INVOIC
     › Freight Invoice859IFTMCS
     › Payment Order / Remittance Advice (EFT)820REMADV

There are many differences between an X12 and an EDIFACT document and I would recommend that if you do not have the capabilities to do EDIFACT in house that you outsource to a strong global EDI solution provider who can handle both data formats. At EDI Here, we have offices located in North America, Europe and Pacific/Asia regions and can handle all internationally recognized EDI data formats including not only X12 and EDIFACT but many, many more (Tradacoms in the UK for example).

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