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Libelle IT Glossary Part 12: The differences between SAP IDoc and EDI

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When it comes to the topic of data exchange in IT, terms such as SAP IDOC (Intermediate Document) and EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) quickly come up. The purpose of all these formats is the transfer and reversal of data or information. A distinction is made in different formats depending on the environment.

The data exchange formats are an important tool with which one can integrate business processes with external partners as well as internally.

But what exactly do these terms mean and what are the differences between the individual formats? The following blog post from our Libelle IT Glossary deals with these questions, among others, and attempts to shed light onto the subject.

What are SAP IDocs?

In order to serve as many business processes as possible, there are many different predefined IDoc types. IDoc is an abbreviation for "Intermediate Document". A free translation would therefore be exchange document. So IDocs are internal SAP containers for the exchange of documents such as invoices, delivery bills or purchase orders. To enable the exchange, corresponding ports are configured within SAP (Transcation WE21).

The most common port used is file ports. This type of "port" allows the SAP system to write the IDoc as a file to the file system. Other systems can then read and process the IDoc at the specified location. Once a system can handle the IDoc format, it does not matter whether it is an SAP system or a non-SAP system. (Source)

What is the difference between EDIs and IDocs?

What exactly does EDI stand for ? Electronic Data Interchange, or  short EDI , describes a concept of data exchange in which standardized formats are being used. These formats offer ideal possibilities for the exchange between other ERP systems. In the age of digitalization, business processes are, in the best case, completely digitalized, including communication with business partners and their systems. An EDI can serve as an external container to enable error-free communication between the business partners' ERP systems. (Source)

IDoc is a vendor-specific file format used by SAP for data exchange and therefore IDocs are mostly used within an internal SAP system. In international business, however, independent standards are preferred. With the help of so-called EDI converters, EDI files, e.g. representing purchase orders or invoices, can easily be converted into SAP IDocs and vice versa.

IDocs are a part of EDI. Together they are suitable to monitor and automate complex communication between systems.

Why IDoc and/or EDI?

Keyword automation: In case of a large amount of documents, the use of EDI and also IDocs is particularly worthwhile, as automated further processing is of great economic advantage. Manual work and the associated errors are reduced.

If you want to successfully post IDocs, for example to trigger an order or invoice process, you face another challenge. This is where software solutions can be of great help to you. Say goodbye to paper documents and switch to EDI and SAP IDoc. (Source)

IDoc management challenges

This is where problems arise for many users, because this is the interface where a technical data exchange process becomes a business process.

Errors that occur here prevent or stop the booking process. The "classic" error is missing or incorrect master data. Correcting errors is usually difficult and time-consuming. (Source)

Challenges in IDoc management

This is where problems arise for many users, because this is the interface at which a technical data exchange process becomes a business process.

Errors that occur here prevent or stop the whole booking process. The "classic" error is missing or incorrect master data. Correcting errors is usually difficult and time-consuming. (Source)

Improve your SAP IDoc Management!

Libelle EDIMON provides a summarized overview of all the relevant SAP IDocs and their status, thus simplifying manual troubleshooting. In addition, Libelle EDIMON automates the process of troubleshooting and enables a regulated processing of your SAP IDocs.

Would you like to learn more about various IT topics? For example, how exactly communication via IDocs works in the SAP environment or which ways there are for processing IDocs? Then feel free to visit our blog and follow us on LinkedIn.

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