A Brief History of EDIFACT


EDIFACT is a set of standards for formatting information that is electronically exchanged between one business and another, or within a business. These standards describe how documents for conducting certain aspects of business-such as purchase orders and invoices-are structured.

By specifying a standardized, computer-readable format for transferring data, EDIFACT (UN/EDIFACT) enables the automation of commercial transactions around the world. It provides a common, uniform language through which computers can communicate for fast and efficient transaction processing.

Early Standardization Efforts

Before the development of standards, many businesses used proprietary systems to exchange trading information such as purchase orders and invoices. However, they recognized the economic need for a faster, less costly way to process information in order to stay competitive in the business world. Business sectors such as transportation, grocery supply, and banking drove the creation of standards for the communication of data.

In 1988, the United Nations chartered UN/EDIFACT (United Nations Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce, and Transport) to develop a worldwide, internationally approved standard structure for exchanging information among partners. The UN/EDIFACT standards are called United Nations Standard Messages (UNSM). They are comparable to the ANSI ASC X12 transaction sets.

UN/EDIFACT is the standardized data format is widely used by the international business community.

UN/EDIFACT is a collection of 200 messages. UN/EDIFACT standard is used to perform nearly every aspect of business operation such as order placement and processing, shipping and receiving, invoicing and payment, pricing and sales, and inventory. It streamlines the communication of data to and from a broad range of entities, including financial institutions, insurance providers, food and pharmaceutical suppliers, retailers, and automotive manufacturers.