To summarize the points that Kristen has made I have compiled the following bullet points:
Wikipedia tells you about EDI standards
- Reality = Standards are a "suggested ruleset" that are loosely followed by those implementing them - Improper use of segments and elements are commonplace
- Reality = You better get your ERP implementation in shape to align with these specifications - The supplier will not change their process but can you integrate their needs in to your standard process - Wikipedia doesn't talk about how this is a critical part of the puzzle - I have integrated many suppliers unique requirements in to SAP and there are several standard techniques to do this where you don't have to adapt the customer's process to meet the supplier's EDI requirements... This is key.
Wikipedia tells you about communications and the way data is to be transmitted
- Reality = Sometimes you simply don't have the tools to communicate in the way the supplier or customer needs it. E.g. You don't have AS2 capabilities to communicate with Walmart. It then becomes a key issue to figure out exactly how you will accomplish this otherwise you run the risk of losing the business.
There are many nuances in an EDI implementations and these are but a few key ones. Check out Kristen's article.