Below are the most common business documents that are exchanged electronically between business partners:

  • Orders
  • Advanced shipping notifications
  • Goods receipts and returns
  • Invoices
  • Claims and credit notes
  • Statements
  • Remittances

Each business document realises its own benefits when exchanged electronically, but the benefits below are generally applicable to most documents:

Faster document processing
Documents can be exchanged between business partners in electronic format within seconds, reducing processing times by hours, even days.

More accurate transactional data
Capturing errors are eliminated since documents are no longer captured manually, resulting in more accurate transactional data.

Increased sales
In addition to preventing incorrect products being delivered due to capturing errors resulting in returns and lower sales, faster processing allows buyers to be notified when products are out-of-stock and alternative products can be proposed and delivered with the original order, resulting in increased sales.

Prevent lost sales
Buyers can in turn prevent out-of-stock situations by ordering alternative products thereby preventing lost sales and subsequent diminished profits.

Improved document referencing
Follow-on documents will now reference preceding documents consistently. For example, a supplier’s invoice will reference the correct purchase order number from a buyer.

Reduced cycle times
With faster document processing it is possible to significantly reduce cycle or lead times. For instance: order cut-off times can be extended since documents are now processed within seconds.

Increased efficiency
Business processes can be completed much quicker since data capturing is automated, resulting in significant efficiency gains. For example, deliveries can be performed quicker, resulting in faster turnaround times of delivery vehicles and increased capacity at the receiving point.

Better utilisation of human capital
Users are relieved from performing mundane, repetitive, non-value adding activities. They can now focus on performing value-adding tasks which often cannot be automated.

Reduced stock holding
With shorter lead times, stock holding and the associated costs can be reduced by ordering smaller quantities more often.

Faster resolution of discrepancies
Discrepancies can be resolved much faster, preventing further loss of profits. For example, goods returns and claims received electronically from a buyer can be processed, investigated and resolved immediately by the supplier.

Reduced paper wastage
Exchanging documents in electronic format could make printing the document unnecessary. For example, exchanging orders, statements and remittances in electronic format only will result in significant paper saving.

Improved security
When business documents are no longer printed, security and access to confidential or sensitive data in electronic format can be maintained centrally.

Improved internal controls
The opportunity to manipulate data is significantly reduced since documents are no longer captured manually, thereby improving internal controls.

Simplified auditing
Internal and external auditors can verify business transactions quickly and easily, without searching endlessly for supporting paper documents.

Improved master data alignment
The alignment of master data between business partners is both a prerequisite for, and a consequence of, effective exchange of business documents in electronic format. Although difficult to measure the cost of incorrect or misaligned master data is significant and impacts all business processes negatively.

Reduced costs
Exchanging documents electronically between business partners should result in significant cost savings, particularly due to the increased efficiency and reduced labour, paper, postage, storage and stock holding costs.

Enables partner collaboration
The electronic exchange of documents also enables much more efficient collaboration between business partners, as relevant information such as sales figures and stock levels can be shared much quicker, allowing buyers and suppliers to make faster, more strategic decisions.

Increased competitiveness
The increased efficiency and reduction in costs will make your organisation much more competitive. Failure to implement the electronic exchange of business documents will lead to a distinct competitive disadvantage, as more competitors adopt EDI.


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