Electronic Document Interchange: International Experience
By Paul Sprague
For quite some time, there has been a movement in Europe and the United States towards creating an electronic document interchange (EDI) between companies that would reduce cost and improve accuracy in the long term. This movement was started with the implementation of communication standards in the mid 1980’s followed by legislative changes which gave credibility to such systems and then finally acceptance and implementation in the marketplace across a wide range of industries. Today, EDI is an integral part of many company’s operating structures. Some common examples are the insurance industry, credit bureaus and suppliers to retail outlets.
The insurance industry widely makes use of EDI. This process is initiated when the medical facility sends data about patients and services through secure channels to the insurance company for claims processing. The benefits of EDI are easily visible due to the volume of documents that are exchanged and the amount of data that is processed on a daily basis. EDI allows insurance companies to save money and to remain competitive and it has been widely adopted in this industry.
Another common example is US credit bureaus who maintain credit data on individuals. Information is reported to and from these bureaus using EDI. When someone requests a loan at a bank or store, information is transmitted via EDI which allows the lender to make a timely decision. In this case, EDI allows the buyer to obtain a loan quickly and to take the new purchase home immediately.
Another example which continues to grow is the use of EDI between the supplier and retailer to ensure ordered merchandise will arrive just in time for sale. More commonly, we see store inventory systems that interface with suppliers to ensure a sufficient amount of merchandise is on the shelves without the need for store clerks to manually count and transmit orders. By using EDI, orders to suppliers are sent automatically with little or no human interaction.
It is clear to see that EDI is everywhere and it allows companies to be more competitive by reducing costs and improving accuracy. This trend has been spreading across North America and Europe for the last 10 years and has finally come to Russia where its arduous accounting requirements create an ideal environment for EDI implementation. Due to changes in the Russian legislation, the signing, stamping and exchanging of original documents can be simplified with EDI and your company may now enjoy these benefits immediately.
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