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ZUGFeRD is a standard – a set of rules – for invoices which combines a normal looking invoice in PDF format with embedded data that can be used for automated processing.

  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

    Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

    Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the process of exchanging information electronically. At its heart, it is simply a business transaction conducted in an electronic manner. It is typically used in the transfer of data between businesses that would otherwise take place via paper documents. A simple example of EDI would be the transmission of a computer file from one business to another containing all of the information necessary for placing an order for goods and services to be purchased. Another example would be the transmission of a file containing invoice information or another containing receipts for shipments.

    When humans communicate, they use a series of audible rules to shape sounds that are understood by the person to whom they wish to speak. The person who is listening would be unable to receive any useful information from the communication if they didn’t speak the same language as the person who was speaking. It works the same way with EDI. EDI works because both the sending business and the receiving business follow a set of rules that they both understand and agree upon in advance. There are many sets of these rules for EDI which are referred to as “standards.” Just like computer technology in general, EDI has evolved over a period of many years and over several continents. As a result, there are many different standards that have been developed. These standards have been shaped not only by geography but also by the nature of the businesses who developed and use them.

    The first step in diving deeper into EDI involves understanding the organizations that have developed standards for EDI and then understanding the standards which they have developed. The standards that are not widely used or that are being phased out will not be discussed here. Finally, some conclusions will be made regarding the current state of EDI and how it can best be adopted today.

  • ZUGFeRD document processing standards

    ZUGFeRD: Emerging Standard for Automated Invoicing


    In this article we take a look at an EDI standard identified by the acronym "ZUGFeRD" which is an emerging set of rules for the creation of an invoice document in PDF format but containing embedded data used for automatic processing.

    The Current State of Invoice Creation and Payment:

    These days fewer and fewer companies generate invoices by manual means.  Most invoices are generated through the use of an accounting or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.  Invoices are printed and mailed or else saved in a common electronic format such as a PDF which may be e-mailed.  Some companies utilize something called Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to send and receive invoices as well as many types of documents including purchase orders and shipping notes.  Standard electronic formats (rules) for EDI have been developed including the international “UN/EDIFACT” standard as well as other standards including the one that is most widely used in North America which is called “ANSI ASC X12” or just “X12.”  EDI typically provides for the transfer of the very same information that would appear in paper documents. Because the information is sent and received electronically, EDI provides a means of eliminating the manual processing steps for each of the documents for which it has been implemented.  It allows companies to operate as efficiently as possible and to implement strategies such as “just in time” inventory control that would be impossible without a fully automated ordering system. EDI isn’t for everyone though because it requires a company’s customers and suppliers to also adopt it.  EDI can also be difficult, time consuming, and expensive to implement. In addition, EDI is often only implemented for a portion of a company’s documents.