EDI with Harvard Drug Group: business rules required for EDI compliance

EDI with Harvard Drug Group: business rules required for EDI compliance

EDI with Harvard Drug Group and the mandatory EDI transactions its suppliers must comply with


Reducing manual processing and minimizing costly errors have always been key objectives for business organizations to use EDI.  This is no different in the pharmaceutical and health care industries.  Pharmaceutical companies have adopted EDI, and are now mandating the exchange EDI transactions, in effort to optimize their supply chains, as well as be able to overcome the challenges associated with increased demand, lot controls and expiration date management.

The Harvard Drug Group is a long-standing corporation, one of the largest suppliers of prescription and Over the Counter medications, as well as related products, in the U.S.

In this blog we will discuss the required EDI transactions sets, and will address the EDI supply chain and related EDI business rules all of which lie at the core of an EDI implementation process with Harvard Drug Group.


What are the EDI transactions required by Harvard Drug Group ?

So let’s begin with what is EDI and why all major retailers, including pharmaceuticals, require it as a mandatory condition to doing business. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) refers to the structured transmission of data between organizations electronically. Benefits of transmitting documents through EDI will be seen in many areas, including reduced time and payment delays, reduced labour costs, improved data and inventory accuracy, increased information accessibility, and ultimately, facilitated business activity.

The following are the EDI transactions Harvard Drug Group requires EDI compliance for:

EDI process flow to transmit document with Havard Drug Group

Watch our step by step video tutorials on how to transmit Harvard Drug Group EDI transactions using our web-based portal: Webgate+


How does the EDI transactional flow work?

But what do the EDI transactions actually mean ?

The EDI 850 is a Purchase Order transaction set, used to place an order for goods or services. The 850 generally provides the same information you would typically find in a paper Purchase Order (PO) document.

Upon receiving a Purchase Order (EDI 850) and preparing your shipment, you will need to proceed with creating and sending an EDI 810 (invoice). The EDI 810 Invoice transaction set is the electronic version of the traditional paper-based invoice document. Payment processing of EDI 810 invoice is naturally faster than that of paper based invoice as data entry and manual processing is avoided.  Once Harvard Drug Group has received a compliant EDI 810 invoice, they will issue payment accordingly.

This will complete the EDI transactional flow required by Harvard Drug Group. It is important to note, however, that Harvard Drug Group may opt to implement, at some point in the future, new EDI transactions, such as EDI 856 Advanced Ship Notice, which you will then need to comply with.


Testing your EDI compliance with Harvard Drug Group

So now that you have a general understanding of what each required EDI transaction means, let’s discuss Harvard Drug Group’s EDI transactional flow and some related EDI business rules!

Once your set-up for EDI with Harvard Drug Group has been completed, you will need to complete a testing cycle, directly with its EDI department.  It is quite common for retailers, including the pharmaceutical industry, to require mandatory EDI testing whereby they test both incoming and outgoing EDI transactions sets (EDI 850 and EDI 810) in order to ensure your data output is EDI compliant with their specific EDI requirements and business rules.  Having tested and approved all the required EDI transactions, Harvard Drug Group can guarantee a certain degree of compliance, or at the very least hold you accountable for any EDI non-compliance errors, once you have been fully deployed to EDI production.  You will not be moved to EDI production, and therefore, will not be able to receive production purchase orders (EDI 850), until all the required EDI transactions have been tested successfully with Harvard Drug Group, and deemed 100% EDI compliant.

EDI testing is the next bit of material we need to touch upon!

The testing of the mandatory EDI transaction sets (EDI 850 and EDI 810) is a must when dealing with Harvard Drug Group, in order to become EDI compliant and in production mode.  Depending on your in-house EDI capabilities, you can complete the required EDI testing yourself, directly with Harvard Drug Group.  If you or are unable to do so, you can opt to work with a third party EDI provider to manage the required EDI testing cycle on your behalf.  Using the services of a third party EDI provider, such as EDI Gateway Inc for example, has its perks, especially if your EDI capabilities and EDI experience are minimal. Most third party EDI providers embed validation maps in their back end systems that allow the tools they develop, and use, to detect EDI non-compliance errors.  By using a third party EDI provider, you will gain access to tools that are fully EDI compliant, and which will, consequently, ensure that the outgoing EDI data output on the files you are transmitting to the retailer is 100% EDI compliant with the latter’s specific EDI guidelines and business rules.  So be smart and do your due diligence!  Choose the right third party EDI provider that best suits your needs!


EDI business rules for Harvard Drug Group’s retailers

Now, when receiving a test EDI 850 purchase order file from Harvard Drug Group, you will need to send back an EDI 810 invoice test file.  Here are a few business rules you must follow!

  • First, you may not consolidate multiple purchase orders (EDI 850) on the same invoice (EDI 810).  Each EDI 810 file must correspond to a single EDI 850.
  • Second, the invoice number you assign to your EDI 810 invoice must be either numeric or alphanumeric.  It cannot contain any symbols such as dashes (-) or slashes (/ \), etc.
  • Third, you can apply allowances to the EDI 810, should you need to.
  • Finally, and this is of utmost importance! Harvard Drug Group requires a parallel testing period of 30 days before they can deploy their suppliers to a full EDI production status.  What this means is that once the EDI 810 test file has been approved by Harvard Drug Group as 100% EDI compliant, you will be moved to parallel mode, allowing you to receive production EDI 850 purchase orders.  However, when transmitting the production EDI 810 invoice, you will also need to mail the corresponding paper invoice directly to Harvard Drug Group, until otherwise advised.  When the parallel testing period is up, Harvard Drug Group will send you a production notice, advising to cease mailing paper invoices.  Again, let us make this very clear, the paper invoices must be sent in parallel (in addition) to the EDI 810 transmission, not instead of!


What we touched upon in this blog is crucial information that we believe is essential for a first time supplier in the process of setting up with Harvard Drug Group, and implementing EDI.  Nevertheless, we highly recommend reading the vendor manual you are provided with by Harvard Drug Group, or any retailer you are doing EDI with, and familiarizing yourself with the different EDI business rules associated with each of the required EDI transactions. This is particularly imperative if you are integrated and are using your in-house EDI system to exchange EDI transactions with Harvard Drug Group.  Knowing pertinent business rules will enable you to avoid the risk of potentially incurring unnecessary non-compliance EDI charges.

We trust that this blog has been informative and we wish you luck with your EDI initiative with Harvard Drug Group!



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Sharon Barr

With over 16 years of experience in the EDI retail industry across both Canada and the U.S, Sharon Barr is part of EDI Gateway’s EDI lead team, where her lead role is primarily in EDI integration.


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