Rail Industry Guidelines for EDI: Introduction and Overview
In addition to establishing conventions for the formatting and interpretation of the data that comprises the interchange, the sender and receiver must agree on a choice of communications medium and interchange envelope. This choice will lead to further agreements on specific technical questions as well as agreements on procedural issues (such as frequency of transmission, corrective measures in the event of a communications failure, etc.). The resolution of these matters is outside the scope of the Rail Industry Guidelines, and should be pursued by the parties initiating an EDI partnership. Background and technical support can be solicited from any one of many software suppliers and networks.
The ASC X12 Standards have been developed to provide security comparable to conventional mail, telephone service or fax. Review of the standards by the Committee on Information Standards supports this contention. However, while security of data can be facilitated, it cannot be guaranteed in EDI any more than it can be with mail, telephone or fax. Each participant is encouraged to take the steps deemed necessary to protect the confidentiality of its data.
The legality of data transmission as a binding contract is a matter for resolution between the interchange partners. Likewise, the Rail Industry Guidelines do not provide for the transmission of standard terms and conditions for sale (boiler plate) along with the transmission of business data. It is expected that agreement on these matters will be achieved and documented by the interchange partners prior to transmission.
Comprehensive trading partner agreements should be executed prior to commencing EDI trading. An EDI trading partner agreement is simply a vehicle to replace paper communications with electronic communications and to preserve the purchasing relationship between trading partners that formerly existed on paper.