855 Purchase Order Acknowledgement (PO) Defined
The EDI 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgement (PO) is just a confirmation of a PO. It is sent electronically, instead of calling or faxing your customer, and says "I got your order for these products to ship to this address. We have all of these in stock, and we are moving on fulfilling the order - we will send another update once it ships". The electronic file format the document is sent in is called EDI - which stands for Electronic Data Interchange.
The purpose of EDI is to cut down on the cost and errors associated with manual
keying of data. For example, your customer needs some of your products so
they send you an 850 PO which says "this is what I need and where I want it
shipped". You receive the PO and send back a 997 Acknowledgement saying "I
got the PO". You then fulfill the order and send a 810 Invoice saying "we
shipped these items and here is the final price - please pay us within 10 days".
If you are fully integrated with EDI, all of this happens electronically with
only one or two checks by a human (and no keying of data).
One of the reasons EDI is used (en lieu of other electronic formats) is that it is a very well documented file format. There are standards committees, which include experts in the fields of electronic commerce, that define and publish formal standards on the EDI document formats and communication protocols
(how the documents are sent and received). The two recognized standards for EDI are ANSI X.12 (ANSI X12) and UN/EDIFACT.
The UN/EDIFACT is an international standard that will most likely be adopted by US companies.
An EDI document is called a "Transaction Set" in ASNI X.12, and is called a "Message" in UN/EDIFACT.
EDI documents are sent electronically (instead
of via fax or mail). Part of the EDI document serves as the envelop, which
states who the sender and recipient of the document is. The sender and
recipient are called "Trading Partners", because they "trade" electronic
Each EDI document is broken into logic groups of data called Segments. Each Segment is made up of one or more Data Elements. A Data Element is just a field of data (like Address1, City, State, PO Number, Order Total, etc).
Since the EDI standards for each document are very extensive, it is unlikely that a company will use all of the Segments and Data Elements that could make up the document. In general, a company should use as few Segments and Data Elements as needed to accomplish their business goals. For this reason, most companies that require their vendors to use EDI have very specific Mapping Documents. A Mapping Document is a
fancy way of saying - this is exactly how we use the 855 Purchase Order PO Acknowledgement document. Here are the groups of data (Segments) we need, and here are the specific fields of data (Elements) we need. Companies also defines the Usage of each field of data / Element. The
Usage tells you exactly what they use that field for and what the acceptable values are.
For more detailed information on our EDI Solutions, contact us at 800-266-3579 or by clicking the Contact Us link above.