What is ANSI X12?

ANSI X12 is an American EDI standard developed in 1979 and stands for American National Standards Institute X12.

Although originally designed for use solely in North America, ANSI X12 is still the most commonly used EDI standard there is — more than 300,000 organizations worldwide now use it.

Although ANSI is the most widely used EDI standard globally other standards such as the Tradacoms and EDIFACT standards are more commonly used in Europe.

What are EDI Standards?

EDI standards are the requirements for the format and content of EDI business documents. EDI standards determine the correct order and location of the units of data in an EDI document. All EDI transactions are defined by EDI standards.

What is the History of EDI ANSI X12?

The EDI ANSI X12 standard first became ratified and available in 1981; but the origins of what became the EDI ANSI X12 standards go much further back. The precursors of EDI ANSI X12 go as far back as the 1960’s when railroad companies formed a committee that dealt with the quality of inter-company communication. The next big leap for what would become EDI ANSI X12 came in the 1970s when the grocery industry began to use EDI and proliferated the early form of the technology. By 1973 the committee that had been established in the 1960s decided to create a set of standards that all EDI users could use to make the exchange of information seamless. These standards eventually became ratified as the EDI ANSI X12 standard in use today.

Who uses EDI ANSI X12?

ANSI X12 is used by a companies of all sizes across a variety of industries, it connects suppliers, retailers brands and manufactures within a network and enables them to transact business information seamlessly.

When you purchase EDI software or use a web-based EDI service, you are in fact using the EDI ANSI X12 standard. Many software providers claim to be EDI ANS X12 compliant but fail to mention how easy or difficult their software is to use. The EDI ANSI X12 standard in fact says nothing about how the various documents that are in the standard should be created, just what they should look like. Because of this you should ensure that the EDI ANSI X12 software you use provides an easier means of setting your trading partners than simply having to hand-code the EDI ANSI X12 data. Many of the premier vendors in fact offer some form of EDI ANSI X12 “kit” system that allows you to become compliant with a specific trading partner without having to learn the EDI ANSI X12 standard itself. At the same time, if you are an advanced user, you should ensure that your software gives you the flexibility of working directly with the EDI ANSI X12 standard when you wish to do so.

There are over 320 different types of transactions capable within ANSI X12 covering nearly every facet of business-to-business operations, including transaction sets in the following categories:

  • Order and Financial Series
  • Transportation Air and Motor Series (TAM)
  • Transportation Ocean Series (TOS)
  • Transportation Rail Series (TRS)
  • Warehousing Series (WAR)

Some of the most common transactions are purchase orders, invoices and advanced shipping notices (ASN).

What are the Benefits of Using EDI Standards?

EDI standards are essential for businesses looking to streamline their operations because they turn EDI messages into uniform computer readable messages, ready for processing. EDI standards describe what each piece of information is and in what format it comes in.

How to Stay Current with EDI ANSI X12

One of the biggest misconceptions many customers have is that they must always have current updates to the EDI ANSI X12 standard in order to be compliant with their trading partners. The EDI ANSI X12 standard documents are covered by “versions” that are usually in numeric form like 4030 or 5010. Before asking your software vendor to sell you an update to the latest EDI ANSI X12 version, you should check with all you trading partner to ensure that they require this latest EDI ANSI X12 version. You may be surprised to find out that even some of the larger retailers and trading partners are still using versions of EDI ANSI X12 that go as far back as version 4030! That said, we have hundreds of pre-specified trading partner mapping kits at the ready to help you get up and running quickly whether you choose from our local or cloud solutions.

The TrueCommerce EDI Solution

TrueCommerce provides a range of EDI solutions to meet the requirements of small, emerging, mid-market and enterprise businesses. No matter which EDI standards you or your trading partners utilize, or what EDI messages you need to transact, our scalable EDI solutions and fully managed service make EDI easy for you.

If you’d like to find out more about our EDI managed service then why not download our information pack. Alternatively, please get in touch.