The Basics of EDI in SAP

by Jodi Abrams

Maybe you are new to EDI, or need to make some changes. This post will help with some groundwork knowledge to get you started.


Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) in SAP is accomplished by transferring intermediary documents (IDocs) into and out of SAP. These structured documents contain the data necessary to complete an end-to-end business process with your trading partner. For example, in a customer/vendor relationship this can automate orders and invoicing.

What is an SAP IDOC?

An SAP IDoc or Intermediary Document is a standardized data structure for transferring information into and out of SAP. It works in conjunction with standard functions in the SAP system that control what data is sent and received.

What is an SAP EDI Managed Service?

With EDI managed services all of your EDI is outsourced to a third party provider who will take care of everything from implementations through to support and data transmission. With the provider managing the complete integration with your SAP system you can eliminate the strain on internal resources.

What are the steps of an SAP EDI implementation?

  1. Gather and analyze trading partner requirements
  2. Select an EDI solution (In house, managed service or hybrid)
  3. Design the integration and field mappings
  4. Develop and unit test the mapping
  5. Integration testing with your trading partner
  6. Migration to production and go-live support

What are the different parts of an EDI document?

EDI Documents are made up envelopes, which act like an envelope on a letter, directing the data to the correct destination, and the main business message. These are both made up of segments and elements which adhere to a standard which describes their make up. For example in North America, it’s typically the X12 standard, and in Europe, it’s typically EDIFACT.

About the author: Jodi Abrams

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