Before integrating data across the business, you will have to undertake a good deal of data analysis. It is wise to start this process at the ultimate destination for that data. For example, if you wish to use EDI for your purchase orders, the first thing to do is understand the data requirements of the order processing system.
An important reason to analyse each affected business system is to ensure its ability to share data. Sometimes, obstacles need to be overcome, such as different business systems may contain the same data, but in different formats.
Data is often broken down into primary and secondary keys. A primary key is a highly important but common piece of information – for example; customer PO, invoice number, bill of lading number – and often requires less attention from the EDI team, as IT departments have learned to honour these keys. Secondary keys are pieces of information that are likely to be more specific to an individual trading partner or group – such as a department number, carrier code or product code.
Industry-wide codes – such as the Standard Industry Code (SIC) or Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) number in pharmaceuticals – greatly facilitate the use of EDI, as they standardise the use of these keys across a wide range of organisations and they are often adopted as best practise across an industry.
Once the structure of the data required throughout the system is understood, the EDI team can start data mapping.