Improved Cash Flow With the Help of EDI

  May 22, 2012       By Ray Atia
Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI, is the structured transmission of data between businesses or other organizations by electronic means. Data, documents, or other business data (such as payments) are transferred without the aid of human intervention. Businesses can improve their bottom line by integrating EDI into their financial practices. Some companies initially apply EDI to the most labor intensive and paper laden portion of their business - procurement. Other companies utilize EDI applications for accounts payable and accounts receivable functions. Applying EDI to remittance functions allows companies to reap the benefits of electronic funds transfers. Direct deposit allows businesses to receive payments timely and avoids the delays of mail or transit time and human action to make the actual deposit. Businesses can send invoices electronically and customers can transfer funds. EDI allows the payment to be reconciled to the accounts receivable system and post payment immediately. Aside from the immediate availability of funds, using EDI for accounting functions increases the speed and accuracy of processing payments. The financial benefit of EDI provides companies with a tracking mechanism for payments for customers who are behind in their payments. EDI allows businesses to create a "flag" when payments have been credited to a bank account. This can minimize the need for collection phone calls or letters since the "flag" alerts personnel when payments have been made on a particular invoice. In cases such as this, EDI can improve communication between businesses and their customers. The use of EDI for financial purposes improves forecasting capabilities by providing detailed reports of financial transactions. Businesses can run reports that show projected income and expenses for the current period, as well as for previous billing cycles. EDI can also provide financial reports in "real time," providing upper management with a current financial picture of the business and allow for short and long term business planning. Companies that incorporate EDI into their accounting processes may find that they can negotiate better terms with their suppliers. In these circumstances, businesses negotiate better payment terms by showing suppliers their cash flow projections and their ability to guarantee payment under the new terms. Companies may also be able to renegotiate terms on loans based on improved receivables and increased availability of cash.