This Is Why You Need an SAP EDI Expert In Your Corner

by Jodi Abrams

How hard can it be? Trading partner provides specs, you map the data, turn the switch and voilà, you are live with EDI! As with so much else, EDI complexity can fall into the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time it’s fairly straightforward, the data is easy to understand and you can move through the set up quickly. However, when you hit that other 20%, you really need an expert to guide you through it. This can save time in back and forth with your trading partner and internal business teams, and money in costly fines and mistakes.


One of the benefits to working with someone who knows EDI like the back of their hand is that they can spot the obscurities early. They can take an EDI spec from your customer, look it over and let you know all of the spots that might get you into trouble. If you are lucky and have found an EDI expert that is also an SAP expert, they will also be able to tell you right away what data you will have in SAP to support the requirements, where it is found and whether or not any customizations are required to use it in the process.

They can advise your business users what master data might be needed to support some of the requirements, and what the ongoing maintenance will be. Knowing this before you start testing with your trading partner will make for a quick and efficient testing process because you will have everything set up and ready to go up front.


The smallest things can cause the biggest problems in EDI. For example, you need to pay attention to what UPC/EAN format your customer is sending you – and subsequently what they want to receive back. Is it 11 digits, 12, 14? What do you store and support in your system, and how will you accommodate all of these customers and their different needs? Do you share UPC codes across products? Perhaps products that are uniquely packaged for some of the larger retailers, but still share the same UPC with another product in your system. Another pitfall to watch out for is dates. You can receive many different dates on the EDI order. Where will these all get slotted into SAP in order to effectively meet your customer’s delivery requests? An SAP/EDI expert will be able to understand not only what the customer is sending you, but how you are set up in terms of lead times and delivery scheduling to ensure that you are actually adhering to your customers’ requirements.


Having the right team on board before you start an EDI project can make the difference between a 2 week and 2 month implementation. It can also mean a smooth go live and a happy customer, vs. a lot of errors and costly fines. Knowing just EDI is not enough to avoid these issues. Make sure your EDI expert is also an SAP expert.

About the author: Jodi Abrams

Jodi is an expert in SAP and eCommerce integration, and is Vice President of Applications for CONTAX.