In the 2000s, Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI, was a popular choice open-source platform for exchanging data from one computer to another. These days, document management systems have far surpassed the security and functionality of EDI. Learn about the definition of EDI, its history, and its decline, and discover why document management systems are now the standard for secure data sharing across industries.


EDI: The Basics

Essentially, EDI allowed computers to exchange information in a standard electronic format. It initially was largely responsible for the transition of companies to a paperless office. When it was first implemented, EDI’s advantages over other options included:

  • Allowing companies to switch to a paperless office, thereby significantly reducing costs
  • Increased processing speed
  • Fewer errors
  • Improve information sharing with other businesses, clients, and employees


EDI: The Specifics

For many companies, EDI was the first option available that allowed them to reduce their use of fax, postal mail, and email. Note that even though email is technically an electronic option, it was still handled by people, not computers. Whenever people are involved, processing times rise and errors increase. EDI provided an automated system for documents to go straight from the sender’s computer to the recipient.


The Most Common Documents to Be Handled by EDI

EDI systems were used by many companies for many purposes. Some of the most common documents that were exchanged with this method include:

  • Purchase orders
  • Advance ship notices
  • Bills of lading
  • Inventory documents
  • Payment documents
  • Invoices
  • Customs documents
  • Shipping status documents


The Advantages of a Standard Format

Another huge advantage of EDI was that it allowed for the use of a standard format. This was actually a necessity because computers were handling the documents, not humans. Without this standard formatting, every company would send documents using their own format. Think of it like this: without this format, it would be like an English-speaking person speaking to a German-speaking person—the computer receiving the information simply wouldn’t understand it.


Barriers to Implementing EDI

While there were advantages to using an EDI system, there were also significant barriers. First, many companies were simply used to dealing with paper, and though they may have known that a paperless office had many advantages, they were resistant to making the change. There is time and money involved in any significant overhaul of the way a company does business. Finally, many companies worried that EDI didn’t offer enough security. With EDI’s file sharing platform, there are issues involved in security, which we’ll cover shortly. For many companies, the benefits of electronic file sharing wasn’t worth the risk.


A Move to Document Management Software

Though EDI was an important part of the move toward paperless office, Digital Management Software (DMS) inevitably took over as the top choice. Let’s start by considering the 3 barriers to implementing EDI and compare them to a company’s experience when they choose DMS.


The Ease of Use

It’s true that implementing document management software does require a company to make a significant change to the processes they use. However, these systems are intuitive, easy to understand, and can be used by anyone with even the most basic computer savvy-ness. On the other hand, EDI could be complicated to learn and was often not worth implementing if many people within a company would not be able to use it.


The Cost of Change

While there’s an initial cost involved in implementing document management software, any office that wants to seriously compete and save costs in the long run needs to be a paperless office. This cost of implementing DMS will pay for itself in reduced overhead costs, and because it’s now understood as a format that’s here to stay; the expense is a necessary one.


Security in File Sharing

Document management software offers far superior security compared to EDI. One of the main issues with EDI is that it’s an open-source platform. Because free copies are available, access to its source codes are also open, which means that anyone with the know-how can rewrite the program. This is a system that’s just too easy to manipulate and take advantage of.


SecureDrawer is Today’s Answer to an EDI System

There are numerous document management software systems on the market that allow companies to directly share information with other companies via standard format documents. However, SecureDrawer has shown itself to be the leader for a number of reasons:

  • It’s simple to learn and easy to use.
  • It integrates with a wide range of programs, including eFileCabinet.
  • It’s fast and very secure.
  • The value can’t be beat.
  • Users get incredible security and regular backup of their data.
  • Digital signatures can be used, which allows users a truly paperless office experience.

Secure file sharing has changed tremendously in the last decade and SecureDrawer is here as the dominant option on the market. Not only do we have industry-leading security, we are also forever looking to the future to update its capabilities to ensure it stays relevant.