So, you just purchased a shiny new ERP, and are looking to roll out EDI.  You want to get started right away on your EDI project, right?   We should be able to set up data and test all transactions out of the box, right? WRONG!

EDI Project Best Practices

EDI is a customized, systemic process, that much like your data, rolls through the quote to cash cycle in a coordinated sequence.  Each EDI document requires data from an upstream process, and you must always complete, and validate,  the upstream processes first.    A common mistake we see on many EDI projects, is an expectation that EDI is plug and play, and that we can implement all documents simultaneously.  EDI is not plug and play, for the same reason that ERP implementations are not plug and play.

EDI trading partners are notorious for sending through erroneous or uniquely specific data.    Our customers all have different shipping and packaging scenarios.   Many customers have different expectations on how EDI data is to be handled.    The answer to a successful EDI implementation, is to work on each document until it is correct, until moving to the next one, and ensuring that the ERP system has been configured and validated for packaging and shipping processes prior to starting to work on outbound transactions.  EDI implementations always lag the ERP implementation by some weeks, and always last the duration of the design and validation stage of the implementation project.

Below are some typical EDI transactions, that must be managed, and processed sequentially.

Inbound Purchase Orders (850i), Demand Forecasts (830i), etc.

Many times, Trading Partners will send data that does not have a native home in ERP.  Our EDI team must carefully inspect all the inbound PO documents from all your trading partners, and understand for each file, which will be unique, whether there is a native home in Epicor, and if not, we create one for it, and make it visible in the ERP through customization.  This can take time, and for some trading partners, extensive customer part cross references must be built, so that Epicor ERP can understand what it is in fact that this customer is ordering.

Outbound Sales Acknowledgement (855o)

It is common to need to include custom trading partner data in an 855 outbound.  Until all of the inbound maps have been translated, and the data housed in Epicor, we can not start testing 855o.   This is normally not a difficult transaction, but until we have every inbound document defined and custom schema in place to accommodate your trading partners, we can not design the outbound format for this document for testing.

Outbound Packing Slip (856o)

Most customers expect us to be able to start this right away.  Some customers have even demanded that we start this right away.  The trouble is that everyone ships differently, and some people have multiple levels of packaging, at various points in their production process, that change how we build the dataset for the 850o.    Another common mistake our customers make are asking for the packing labels before the ASN is designed.

The shipping and packaging process must ALWAYS be designed first, and approved, before we start building 856o data and labels.  Typically the label would be the last thing we build, as we process through all the 850i for all trading partners, demonstrate all packaging scenarios for each, and then finally, armed with model data, we can construct the outbound ASN dataset and labels.  This is especially important when you have multiple versions of labels for different trading partners, or if you have Master Pallets, Mixed Pallets etc.    All EDI projects I have seen go over budget, or that have been frustrated, have been those where the company insists on having working outbound ASN’s before the shipping process is validated.

Outbound Invoices (810)

Typically the easiest of all, but these can not be started until a validated ASN document has been produced.  As such, we save these until the end of the project, to ensure all the data necessary on the invoice, whether from custom inbound data from the 850o, or custom packaging data from the 856o, are available.   Shipments in the system are required to invoice, so there needs to be a solid, unchanging process to generate multiple shipments for the inbound orders, such that they can be invoiced.  This data is typically not available until the last quarter of the implementation.

Listening to your expert EDI implementation consultant, understanding that EDI will slightly lag the work being done in ERP, and that the work will stretch the duration of the project, are key to a successful EDI implementation.  Following our process and methodology  and will minimize frustrations if expectations were that EDI would be ready day one, and reduce or eliminate rework for any EDI transactions forced through before the system is validated.

If you are having a difficult implementation and would like to talk to Encompass about how to put things back on track, we would be happy to conduct a mid ERP implementation review.   If you are about to start an EDI implementation, understanding the above before starting, and ensuring that the project manager and steering committee understand the timeline, will be critical to meeting expectations, and ultimately having a successful, error free cutover.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


In Electronic Document Interchange (EDI), an EDI 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgment is essentially an electronic version of a phone call or fax that informs the submitter of a purchase order the supplier will be filling the order as requested.

an image of encompass solutions EDI 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgment

The EDI 855 informs the buyer that you will be filling the order and shipping the goods as requested by the date requested. If this is not the case, and the order can not be fulfilled as requested, then the EDI 855 is used to communicate to the buyer that the supplier will be unable to complete the order as-is. the order can be outright rejected, or accepted with changes in this case. An order can be rejected for any reason in this case, such as insufficient stock for the items specified or a disagreement with the terms of the Purchase Order.

EDI 855 Format

ISA*01*0000000000*01*0000000000*ZZ*ABCDEFGHIJKLMNO*ZZ*123456789012345*101127*1719*U*00400*000003438*0*P*>
GS*PR*4405197800*999999999*20110527*1719*1421*X*004010VICS
ST*855*1001
BAK*00*AC*ABC123*20000430*****20000430
DTM*067*20000507
N1*ST**21*HO1000A00
PO1*1*10*CA*72.95*CT*UK*50387698433528
ACK*IA*10*CA*067*20000507**UK*50387698433528
PO1*2*25*BX*15.75*CT*UK*30387698775411
ACK*IA*25*BX*067*20000507**UK*30387698775411
CTT*2
SE*10*1001
GE*1*1421
IEA*1*000004438

EDI 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgment Key Data

When it comes to an EDI 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgement, depending on the agreement between trading partners, there is typically a set of standard data that is included, such as:

  • Purchase order number
  • Estimated shipping and delivery dates
  • Unique product and service identifiers such as UPC/EAN/GTIN, as well as their respective quantities
  • Item status, such as accepted, rejected, accepted with changes, or back ordered

An EDI 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgment accepted with changes will likely include one of the following amendments to the original Purchase Order:

  • Header level changes. This can include line items accepted, changes in freight, or amendments to cash terms
  • Changes or rejection of one or more line items, without header-level changes
  • Header-level changes may be included along with one or more line items changed or rejected

Additional data may be included or required according to trading partner specifications. These data can include:

  • Vendor number
  • Item price
  • Additional item identifiers such as Buyer Item Number or Vendor Part Number
  • Item description

EDI 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgment Benefits

EDI 855 offers plenty of benefits to both the purchaser and the supplier. When implementing the use of a Purchase Order Acknowledgement, benefits can include:

  • Visibility into a supplier’s commitment to fulfilling an order
  • Quicker routing of acknowledgments and changes with automation
  • Improved organization of order information between suppliers and partners
  • Reduction of issues post-invoicing
  • Easy confirmation of supplier-fulfilled orders direct to end consumers

For more information on Encompass Solutions’ EDI offerings, read more about our Rapid EDI Implementation.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.