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Testing of EDI Based Applications

07-Nov-2019

Testing of EDI Based Applications

Hah, isn’t there so much about the testing of EDI based applications? Of course there is. No worries; everything will be covered in this post. Come dive in!!!!

What Is This EDI?

EDI = Electronic Data Interchange

Definition of EDI:

 Computer to computer transfer of official business records such as marketing orders, inventories, invoices, and shipping notifications.

EDI software solutions expedite the transfer of business records and data across a variety of programs and platforms. What previously would be standard processes that practiced phone calls, faxes, or paper as a conversation between organizations buying or selling assets, is now all replaced by EDI. This connects manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers via their information systems in global business-to-business order.

The Real Talk About EDI

 Digital activities within businesses and institutions need data interface standards to interact efficiently – be it financial, medical, commercial, educational, or political. EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) is the principle standard that makes sure all pertinent systems speak the identical language to retain data flowing spontaneously, precisely, and in a stable way.

Since the foundation of EDI (which was more than 50 years ago from now), it has expanded in size and extent to encompass various industries, including retail, trading, healthcare, building, high-technology, and shipping services. You would be amazed to know in the healthcare industry only; the EDI market is predicted to be worth $5.9 billion in 2025 with a yearly increase rate of 9.4%.

Well, the reason behind this dramatic increase & cross-industry generation is the various advantages EDI can provide to software apps and systems that allow businesses to:

•  Stimulate trade cycles
•  Enhance market efficiency
•  Decrease their prices
•  Develop information quality
•  Assure data safety

Just because of EDI, trading partners can automate sales and exchange data in a conventional automatic form. Retailers can transact acquisition orders and bills; suppliers can maintain record levels, banks can handle mortgages and send financial records, insurance businesses can process requests & healthcare providers can share relevant patient care data.

How Does EdI Work?

All of your business’s information is collected in your ERP system, be it details linked to buying, record levels, invoicing and advertising, transportation, and so on. Usually, these EDI solutions are integrated with your Sage ERP system, obtaining and utilizing the data required to generate the documents you need to do trading with other organizations.

Both your customers and suppliers have distinct specifications as to how they do trade. Various things such as ship-to addresses, different pricing, and so on that are defined when a transaction is made and ought to be brought into account when activities take place. Basically, this is the data that gets used by EDI solutions to aid trading among companies.

What Are The EDI Standards?

EDI Standards were built years ago to fix a comprehensive and repeatable set of structured data placeholders (data that stays in an established field in a document) and rules for the production of standard business reports. These documents incorporate but are not restricted to, shopping orders, bills, and shipment reports in an automated mode.

The primary reason for formulating these standards was to assist companies to avoid spending precious time and means setting the layouts of standard business reports. The end result for companies is a decrease in automatic document integration expenses and a more effective method of fixing up integration elements. Describing EDI standards is an open-ended process as business terms are filtered and extended and hence has to be logged in a standard data definition style.

There are a wide variety of industry-specific EDI standards that have precepts that are particular to a field. For instance, EDIFACT is the European standard, ANSI X12 is the North American standard, and like these, there are several more.

How EDI Helps Businesses?

Relying on standard methods to ensure conditions of a settlement are met is a complex and undoubtedly error-prone method. An EDI solution will substitute a lot of conventional methods with automatic activities by placing up a communication interface among systems in a supply chain.

Honestly, the increase of EDI software solutions is much like that of other company software systems such as ERP. Once a luxury of huge businesses, it’s got its move into the hands of different sized companies. It varies, however, in that a big trading associate, retailer, or seller often inflicts EDI as a necessity on segments of its supply chain. Thus, being able to patronize huge businesses that need associates to have an EDI solution for businesses is the big-picture advantage of integrating the software. While the EDI software further increases performance for a viable small and medium business.

EDI Testing in the Healthcare Industry  

Data Processing has always been a significant challenge for healthcare systems as the data comes from various places and in different formats. Let’s check out What is the role of EDI in Healthcare, How EDI works in Healthcare, and why there is a need for EDI testing in the Healthcare Industry.   

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) in Healthcare   

The Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is an innovative electronic communication technology that enables to transfer of data between computer systems through established message formats and standards. Healthcare EDI is the electronic remedy and the automated way to handle healthcare payment challenges. It provides secure electronic data interchange between care providers, healthcare institutions, and patients, plus allows them to manage safe and efficient data processing, including healthcare claims processing activities. 

In the face of ever-evolving regulatory challenges and the burden of rising prices, it is crucial for healthcare organizations to keep themselves top on their efficiency levels. Otherwise, it would be difficult for them to manage the healthcare payment process because poor payment management is a significant reason for regulatory compliance failures, administrative stress, and high healthcare costs. Thus, filling the gaps in claims processing is necessary to avoid claim rejections and subsequent paperwork. Also, clearing houses and Payers should leverage technology to support the smooth management of claim processing.   

However, EDI in the Healthcare Industry comes with several complexities that one needs to handle with software testing because the most critical aspect of EDI that you need to consider for Healthcare are governing standards, medical claims, EDI transactions, which should be in a standardized format to assure faster transfer and quick interpretation of data.  

Moreover, your EDI transactions should be HIPAA compliant, and they should be based on ANSI and other regulatory standards.   

When supporting documentation and claims are sent through EDIs, healthcare providers and payers can achieve numerous benefits such as faster identification of submission errors, fewer denials and rework requests, better claims processing, and increased ROI.  

How Does EDI Work in Healthcare?  

First and foremost, you need to understand that EDI in healthcare transactions is not the same as sending emails or exchanging information through emails, but it is something else. In this case, EDI includes electronic data transmissions between computer systems and applications, and those applications can vary according to different end-users and modes of delivery.   

Moreover, other types of EDIs are also available such as:   

  • P2P EDI (point-to-point EDI).  

  • VAN EDI (value-added network EDI).  

  • Cloud EDI Mobile EDI, etc.  

For Healthcare, care providers must follow ANSI standards and HIPAA regulations during EDI transactions. For instance, there are some ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards developed by standards organizations for healthcare industries to ensure that EDI transactions will manage safely. Similarly, the HIPAA EDI transaction sets are based on X12 because ASC X12 is an integral part of the HIPAA Transactions and Code Sets Rule. As per the information from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS, part of the Department of Health and Human Services), these transactions involve:  

  • Claims and encounters information  

  • Payment and remittance advice  

  • Claims status  

  • Eligibility.  

  • Enrollment and disenrollment  

  • Authorizations and referrals  

  • Coordination of benefits  

  • Premium payments  

Thus, those entities which come in healthcare must use the above-given information for electronic transactions, and they must utilize the adopted standard transaction sets. All such factors seem very interesting when we hear about HIPAA and new terms in healthcare.   

However, when it comes to manual testing of EDI in healthcare systems, many complicated issues, bug solving challenges, and tool selection problems are faced by even experienced Software Testing Engineers. Nonetheless, many Software Testing Companies are using test automation in Healthcare today to support their development, building, and implementation in KDT (Keyword Driven Testing) frameworks.   

But when it comes to giving the best user experience to healthcare providers and payers through EDI, most companies fail to overcome the significant Software Testing Challenges. Their functions act as a middleman between healthcare providers and payers and allow everyone to process transactions and claims at a lower price. Moreover, the services of companies would stay the same for health care providers and payers, but the type of service and file formats can vary according to different user requirements. Similarly, testing such services and file formats is burdensome yet challenging if you don’t have the right approach to automation-based EDI Testing in the Healthcare Industry.   

EDI Testing Process

EDI Testing Process is a means which is usually carried out to ensure there are no technical intricacies in vendor operations which will later on influence the working and quality of the software application. More so, it is important to ensure the proper and effective working of the software among their users & vendors.

Benefits of EDI Testing

Benefit #1 – Time-Saving And Speed Improvements

The advantages of EDI solutions are pretty honest. The speed in which data streams in EDI systems is one obvious illustration of that. Along with an EDI solution, incoming orders are generated by its own, not requiring the user to input any information or taking up the user's efforts.

Plus, there are no stoppages due to varied time zones. There are no faxes, or paper tracks, leading to more reliable cash flow, more durable buy-sell cycle time, shorter lead times, and decreased files.

Benefit #2 – Precision And Elimination Of Manual Errors

The authenticity of the data being transferred within companies grows with an EDI solution. Businesses see a decrease in mistakes by dropping the standard and replicate data entry. With a way to the data of ERP, EDI solutions work as the means in which the data goes, and later on, this also ensures that data received is not just perfect but that provisions for the activities are even met.

Furthermore, this leads to enriched relationships with dealing associates, reducing expensive chargebacks, delayed shipments, or inaccurate product costs.

Some additional benefits of using EDI Test Automation are as follows:  

  • Reduced human intervention for creation and analysis.  

  • Reduced cost of maintenance.  

  • Reduce turnaround time on regression suite. 

  • Increased test coverage.  

  • Increased test accuracy. 

Discover The Ugly and the Uglier EDI Testing Challenges: 

  • Challenge 1: Multi-layer Validation of Transactions  

Validation of each transaction and its results can be error-prone and cumbersome, especially when software testing companies consider performing testing of EDI-based applications manually. Not only this but also, this situation can even become worse when the testing team fails to execute several test cases accurately. Due to the involvement of hierarchical and complex data sets, it would be challenging to validate each transaction or conduct multi-layer testing. 

  • Challenge 2: EDI Compliance Assurance  

One of the biggest challenges while testing EDI applications is translating EDI files from one or various trading partners format to standard formats, which is used by receivers. Thus, it is critical to meet all EDI requirements of trading partners of an organization to help it become EDI compliant.  

  • Challenge 3: Difficult to Understand the Format Used 

Numerous file formats are used for EDI-based applications, such as X12, EDIFACT, CSV, AS2, TRADACOMS, and more. These formats are difficult to understand if applications’ partners don’t have knowledge about systems. Due to this issue, it is important for partners or enterprises to obtain a solution from any company that can help them validate data in various formats.  

  • Challenge 4: Validating Hierarchical & Complex Data  

The complexity of the network increases when more suppliers, manufacturers, partners, and enterprises take the initiative for coordination as a part of their trading. It would be great if enterprises co-ordinate or make connections with partners’ systems because they know how to deal with multiple challenges whenever they arise during the validation of the information of exchange transactions.  

  • Challenge 5: Connecting Legacy Applications/Systems with Modern Applications  

When using legacy systems or applications, enterprises can face severe challenges, including:  

   # Difficult to interpret various formats while generating reports from legacy system data.  

   # Relevant legacy programming skills are a must to support the legacy system.  

  • Challenge 6: Validating Complex Relational Data  

When it comes to validating the database in a typical test environment, it becomes difficult for testers to understand the complex relations, mainly when they don’t acquire in-depth knowledge of databases. Therefore, before validating the complex relational data, it is vital to have a great understanding of SQL (Structured Query Language). Also, one must know how to manage data, validate the data, and optimize several queries and commands in SQL.  

  • Challenge 7: Configuring the Test Environment  

It is another significant challenge of EDI Testing in the Healthcare Industry when the company has many environments to deploy data. To overcome this challenge, one must consider the configurable solutions to run the tests across numerous environments and input data.  

  • Challenge 8: Ensuring Comprehensive Test Coverage  

Having a holistic approach is necessary instead of preferring automation for every single test case. The goal should be to input the large data because it allows to cover a huge scope for test cases and ensure to achieve the comprehensive test coverage.  

  • Challenge 9: Reducing Man Hours & Human Intervention  

The nature of workflows can be complex, and it is imperative to complete the workflow without human intervention as by doing this, your testers can have more time for test analysis rather than focus on configuration and execution.  

Thus, it is essential to understand these challenges before addressing them with EDI test automation capabilities. The Software Testing Company should have full-fledged knowledge and capability to test EDI-based applications as effective testing helps businesses gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. 

Which Tools To Be Used To Test An EDI Platform?

Depending on the frequency of change of its EDI platform, its significance, and its nature, it may become essential to render tools for the administration, performance, and reporting of its experiments. Indeed, performance limits are instantly reached with EDI platform consoles and spreadsheets.

There are various types of tools available to maintain its tests, run them, and create test campaign statements.

•  Tests Management

Testing your EDI platform entails building and managing test cases. These EDI tests will usually have associated traits: title, description, report files, links to adequate documentation, etc. To maintain this data accurately, it may be needed to utilize tools, but the requirements will be altered as per the standards of tests.

•  Unit Tests

Unit Tests (UT) are run instantly in the code. The descriptions and data of the tests must be following the code and remain with it. Test supervision is hence done with code administration and does not need any distinct tool, except a viable test structure.

•  Platform Tests

Platform tests (PT) concentrate on regression analyses. They are hence much more durable. It is essential to maintain the test data, the test scripts, and the arrangements.

When you have a few test cases and run them very infrequently, their supervision can be made with files in lists and a spreadsheet.

Frequently, it is essential to utilize more robust means for test administration, both to save test data and to define test cases.

•  End-to-end Tests

End-to-end testing relies on custom situations. They have identical tooling demands as program tests to maintain configurations and data. The distinction with PTs is that a few test actions will be implemented on other IS segments, like ERP or CRM, but this does not basically alter the test edifice. Therefore we can depend on the identical tools as PTs.

What are the requirements needed for EDI Automation? 

Here are some requirements that you need to fulfill for EDI Automation.  

  • If you are a non-technical user, you must interact with automation.  

  • You need to achieve coverage for database applications, web applications, and web services (both REST and Soap) when choosing automation. 

  • Automation must be capable of verifying against earlier run results (regression purposes). 

  • The cost of automation for Maintenace should below, and this process should be code-free if possible.  

  • Automation tasks or steps should be of reusable nature. It should be easy to configure across multiple workflows.  

EDI Testing Strategy  

The purpose of the EDI testing strategy is to help you understand the EDI testing tools list, overall targets, approach, and timing of test activities needed to get the test done. One should have proper clarification for significant tasks and challenges of the test project. Moreover, your testing strategy should be easy to understand, practically applicable, based on specific requirements, and able to help you achieve targets. Before performing EDI Testing in the Healthcare Industry, the test team should have the best approach to analyze the requirements, write the test strategy, and review the plan with the project team.   

First of all, you need to understand why EDI Testing Strategy is essential & what it is, what factors you need to know and include in your testing strategy, what some risks are associated with the successful testing project. For instance,   

Understand Why do you Need EDI Testing Strategy?  

  • When you have so many levels to test as part of the testing phases.   

  • When you need to test with all your submitters while implementing software changes.   

  • When you have so many software changes to implement to multiple systems.   

  • After the implementation, when your software changes influence your business processes.  

  • When you have significant software changes to implement along with several other corporate initiatives.   

  • When you have an aggressive deadline data to implement so many changes, and in case of not fulfilling this deadline, your complete work can have an adverse effect on your vendor’s business.   

  • When you have a high-level plan to support the intentions of your testing approach.   

  • It is a definition of the resources (software, hardware, and people) required during the course of the process.  

What Actually EDI Testing Strategy is   

  • It is a high-level plan to support the objectives of your testing approach.  

  • A definition of the resources (software, hardware, and people) required during the course of the process.  

  • It is a list that your team understands at a high level with the events that need to take place.  

  • It is a guide/checklist in which detailed plans are developed.   

  • It helps you focus on the risks and dependencies that could impact the success of the testing effort.  

  • It is a list of the deliverables that will be used and created during the testing events.   

What Should be Included in Testing Strategy?  

  • The scope of the testing effort depends on  

  • Transactions, code sets, software changes  

  • Lines of business  

  • Trading partners   

  • Interfaces  

  • Special processing   

  • The phases and techniques   

  • High-level Test schedule (high level)   

  • Acceptance criteria  

  • Roles & Responsibilities  

  • Definition of the test environment  

  • Test data management process.   

  • Test reporting process & controls  

  • The movement of transactions through the systems  

Things to Consider While Creating Transactional Flow   

  • What contacts are made internally for EDI work to start?  

  • How are inbound/outbound transmissions tested?  

  • How do you communicate with your external IS (in the provider organization) contacts?  

  • What is the timetable for bringing a new primary provider into an entire EDI relationship?  

  • What reports are generated during the EDI process?  

  • Where do the reports come from?  

  • Where do the reports go?  

  • Who monitors the EDI reports?  

  • Who handles EDI errors?  

  • What are non-standard data files created for external entities?  

  • What are non-standard data files received from external entities? 

What Are Some Risks Associated with your EDI Testing Strategy?  

  • When there is a large number of changes to be tested.  

  • When several testing events need to be included.  

  • When there are fewer testing resources.  

  • When there is no specific test environment available.   

It’s Time to Take Action for EDI Testing   

Here are some EDI testing scenarios that you can check before taking action for your EDI testing goals.  

  • Start the planning for your test process.   

  • Assign roles & responsibilities to test managers.   

  • Involve all parties in your testing process.   

  • Track bugs/issues and risks.   

  • Address problems and mitigate risks quickly.   

  • Determine the required resources.   

  • Identify EDI testing tools needed to support the effort.   

  • Identify training requirements.   

For any information or assistance on EDI Testing, feel free to reach our experts

Wrapping It Up

EDI solutions are set up to be only accessible to pre-defined authorized users, equipped with audit trails and archives to track use and ensure security. With electronic confirmations to provide a receipt of documents between parties, it brings transparency to business relationships.

Integrating EDI with your ERP system can bring other benefits, as further business processes can be mapped and automated. A company looking for EDI is a company that is on the right path of growth and may find additional benefits in investing in business software solutions.

author

Neha Sethi

Neha is a testing professional having diverse exposure in various projects and application testing with comprehensive understanding of all aspects of SDLC. She is well versed with Manual testing, Mobile application testing, performance testing, load testing, Web applications testing. She is able to create effective documentation issue report and also working with bug tracking software which is used to report the bugs. Highly motivated and excellent team player with strong interpersonal, analytical and communication skills.

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