EDI PO Acknowledgments: 4 Types You Must Know

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) acknowledgments play a pivotal role in the seamless operation of B2B transactions, especially in industries like retail and automotive, where the exchange of business documents underpins the fulfillment process. These acknowledgments ensure that electronic business documents, such as purchase orders and invoices, are successfully received and processed by trading partners. Utilizing EDI acknowledgments reduces the need for manual data entry, thereby minimizing errors and streamlining business transactions.

In North America and beyond, EDI is crucial for automating the exchange of business documents among business partners. This automation extends to electronic purchase orders, shipping details, item descriptions, and payment terms, enhancing efficiency in the distribution center and the entire supply chain. When a company sends out a purchase order, it can anticipate receiving an EDI acknowledgment in return. This acknowledgment serves as a confirmation that the trading partner has received and is preparing to fulfill the order, which might include specifying the shipping method or confirming delivery dates.

There are four main types of EDI acknowledgments, each serving a distinct purpose in the context of electronic business documents:

Functional Acknowledgment (FA)

This common type of acknowledgment confirms that an EDI document has been received and whether it met the message standards for successful processing. It's essential in verifying the transaction codes and code values within the document meet the industry practice, for instance, in the grocery products invoice or automotive industry.

Purchase Order Acknowledgment (POA)

 This acknowledgment is specific to purchase orders. It confirms receipt of the order and communicates acceptance, rejection, or modification of the order terms, such as item quantity, item pricing, or the delivery schedule. This step is critical for managing the supply chain and ensuring the original purchase aligns with the supplier's capacity and inventory.

Advance Shipping Notice (ASN)

 As part of the fulfillment process, the ASN provides detailed shipping instructions, including the shipping method, expected delivery dates, and item details such as individual items' quantity and description. It's a cornerstone in planning the receipt of goods, impacting distribution center operations and the retail industry.

Transaction Set Acknowledgment (TSA)

 This acknowledgment type is used to confirm the receipt and syntactical correctness of a specific transaction set. Unlike the functional acknowledgment, which addresses the entire electronic document, the TSA focuses on individual transaction sets, ensuring each transaction document follows the document standard and internal format specified by the trading partners.

The integration of EDI acknowledgments into the exchange of electronic business documents facilitates smoother, more reliable communication between trading partners. It streamlines financial transactions and business transactions, reducing the reliance on paper business documents and the errors associated with them. 

Furthermore, the use of EDI and value-added networks establishes a universal format for document transmission, enhancing the efficiency of B2B-type data exchanges across private networks. As a result, companies can focus more on their core operations, such as product development and market expansion, secure in the knowledge that their EDI-related business documents are managed effectively.

Types of EDI acknowledgment

In B2B transactions, especially across various industry verticals such as healthcare, retail, and manufacturing, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) acknowledgments serve as a crucial component in ensuring seamless communication and operational efficiency. These acknowledgments facilitate the electronic communication of documents between organizations, confirming the receipt and processing status of such documents. By integrating EDI acknowledgments into the purchasing process, businesses can significantly enhance their operational workflows, adhere to compliance requirements, and foster stronger relationships with their logistics partners and suppliers.

EDI acknowledgments come in various forms, catering to different needs and compliance standards of industry verticals. They are essential for verifying transactions, from the initial order placement to the final terms of payment, ensuring that every step of the purchasing process aligns with both parties' expectations and regulatory standards.

Functional Acknowledgment (997)

When to Use: This acknowledgment should be employed anytime an EDI document is sent, ranging from purchase orders to invoices, to ensure that the document not only reaches its intended destination but is also in a format that can be processed by the recipient's system. It is particularly crucial during the initial stages of a new EDI partnership or when implementing new document types to validate that the communication protocols are correctly established.


  • Ensures Data Integrity: By confirming the structural integrity of EDI documents, it helps organizations avoid the pitfalls of miscommunication and data processing errors, ensuring that all transactions proceed smoothly.
  • Compliance and Standards Adherence: It aids in meeting industry-specific compliance requirements and standards, crucial in regulated sectors like healthcare and finance.
  • Streamlines Onboarding: Simplifies the process of onboarding new trading partners by quickly identifying and correcting any issues with document formats or transmission.

Purchase Order Acknowledgment (855)

When to Use: This acknowledgment is essential right after a purchase order is sent, especially for critical or time-sensitive orders. It should be used in scenarios where inventory levels are closely monitored or when the supply chain involves multiple logistics partners, necessitating precise coordination.


  • Enhances Supply Chain Visibility: Provides immediate feedback on the status of purchase orders, allowing businesses to adjust their inventory management and production schedules accordingly.
  • Improves Supplier Relations: Facilitates clear and direct communication with suppliers, allowing for a more collaborative relationship that can adapt to changes in demand or supply conditions.
  • Reduces Order Errors: By confirming order details upfront, it significantly decreases the likelihood of errors or misinterpretations that could lead to incorrect deliveries or delays.

Advanced Ship Notice (ASN or 856)

When to Use: An ASN should be sent prior to the shipment of goods, ideally as soon as the shipment details are finalized. This acknowledgment is critical for businesses that operate on tight inventory controls, such as retail and manufacturing, where receiving and stocking efficiency directly impacts business operations.


  • Optimizes Receiving Process: With detailed information about the incoming shipment, warehouses can prepare in advance for unloading, inspection, and inventory stocking, reducing bottlenecks and improving turnaround times.
  • Facilitates Just-In-Time (JIT) Inventory: Essential for JIT inventory models, it allows businesses to minimize inventory holding costs by receiving goods only as they are needed.
  • Improves Customer Satisfaction: Ensures that products are available when needed, thus reducing wait times for customers and enhancing the overall customer experience.

Invoice Acknowledgment (810)

When to Use: This acknowledgment is crucial at the completion of a transaction, once an invoice has been issued. It is particularly important in business relationships where payment terms might be complex or when transactions are subject to audit and compliance scrutiny.


  • Accelerates Payment Process: Confirming the receipt and acceptance of an invoice can significantly reduce payment delays, improving cash flow management.
  • Ensures Financial Accuracy: By integrating with accounting software, businesses can automate invoice processing and validation, reducing the risk of financial discrepancies.

Supports Compliance Efforts: Essential for maintaining accurate financial records, it supports compliance with financial regulations and standards, a must-have in industries with stringent financial reporting requirements.

What is ERP?

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. It's a type of software that helps businesses manage all their main activities in one place. This includes handling finances, human resources, the supply chain, manufacturing, and customer relations. ERP makes it easier for different parts of a company to share information and work together. It automates some tasks, makes processes clear, and ensures everyone follows the same rules. Benefits of using ERP include getting immediate updates, working more efficiently, and meeting legal rules. However, setting up ERP is a big task that needs careful planning and investment. In short, ERP is crucial for businesses to improve their operations, work well together, and keep up in today's fast-moving world.

What is the difference between ERP and SAP?

ERP and SAP are often mentioned together, but there's a key difference. ERP is a general term for software that helps manage business processes across an organization. It's about bringing different parts of a business together to work more efficiently. On the other hand, SAP is a specific brand of ERP software made by the company SAP SE. It's one of many ERP systems out there.

While ERP refers to the kind of software, SAP is a product name from a company that makes ERP systems. SAP's software includes tools for finance, HR, supply chain, manufacturing, and customer relations, and it can be customized to fit a business's needs. Other ERP systems like Oracle ERP, Microsoft Dynamics, or Infor ERP offer similar tools but may have different features, ways of setting things up, and target different kinds of businesses. Basically, SAP is a big name in the world of ERP, known for offering a wide range of functions to help manage a company's key tasks.

Understanding Basic Communications-Level Status Message

At the heart of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) communications is the basic communications-level status message. This mechanism is fundamental in ensuring that data sent from one computer is successfully received by another. Upon transmitting data, the sender is notified by the recipient's computer that a specific volume of data, such as 320 bytes, has been received. This confirmation is crucial in a range of communication protocols, serving both simple and complex data exchange needs. The data managed through this system varies widely, encompassing text documents, spreadsheets, and specific EDI data formats. Common notifications include messages like "We have received 320 bytes of data from you" or "message delivered," providing clear and immediate feedback on the status of data transmission.

Exploring Message Disposition Notification (MDN)

Message Disposition Notification (MDN) takes the concept of data exchange acknowledgment a step further by addressing the critical question: "Was your system able to open the document and read it?" This EDI solution, particularly relevant in the context of AS2 (Applicability Statement 2) communication protocols, plays a vital role in confirming not just the receipt of a document, but also its successful extraction and readiness for processing. AS2 enhances the security of EDI document transfers with additional layers of encryption, making the successful decryption and extraction of these documents by the recipient's system a prerequisite for further processing.

When employing MDN within AS2 protocols, senders are informed not only of the secure arrival of their documents but also whether the recipient was able to successfully decrypt and extract the content. This dual-layer confirmation ensures that sensitive documents are not only received but are also in a state to be acted upon by the recipient's EDI systems. In cases where document extraction fails, senders are alerted to take corrective actions—be it resending the document or troubleshooting the issue—thereby maintaining the integrity and efficiency of the data exchange process.

Both the basic communications-level status message and Message Disposition Notification (MDN) are integral components of EDI solutions, facilitating seamless and secure data exchanges across varied communication protocols. While the former confirms the successful transmission of data between computers, the latter ensures the secure and successful receipt and processing of sensitive EDI documents, critical for effective business transactions in today's digital landscape.

Functional Acknowledgment (FA) Document

FA, also known as a 997 in the ANSI standard or a CONTRL message in the EDIFACT standard, is a status message that was created for EDI documents.The status document is exchanged between EDI translators to provide a status on whether the documents were received and read. When the translator on the buyer's computer receives, opens the EDI document, and confirms the contents meet EDI compliance, it will alert the translator on your computer.

Functional acknowledgment is different from the communications-level status message in the following way.

  • FA is a translator-level EDI acknowledgment, while a communications status message is a communications protocol acknowledgment.
  • FA involves alerts if the data is readable while communications status messages address delivery.

Business-level acknowledgment

The business-level acknowledgment takes things further by confirming if the receiver is taking any necessary action. For example, when you send your vendor an EDI Purchase Order, you'll receive a business-level acknowledgment telling you if the order is accepted and the shipping process.If the vendor cannot fulfill your order, the Purchase Order acknowledgment could include what levels they can deliver or the approximate time they could take.If you change your purchase order and send it to the vendor, you'll receive a Purchase Order Change Acknowledgment.

Key Takeaways

Understanding EDI Acknowledgments: EDI acknowledgments are critical in ensuring smooth, error-free exchanges of electronic business documents between companies. These acknowledgments verify that information has been received and processed correctly, supporting efficient business operations and strong partnerships.

Types of EDI Acknowledgments: There are several key types of EDI acknowledgments, including Functional Acknowledgment (FA), Purchase Order Acknowledgment (POA), Advanced Ship Notice (ASN), and Invoice Acknowledgment. Each serves a specific purpose in the transaction process, from confirming receipt of documents to detailing shipping information and confirming invoice processing.

EDI in Business Efficiency: Incorporating EDI acknowledgments into business processes not only enhances operational efficiency but also ensures accuracy, reduces manual work, and supports compliance with industry standards. This is essential for maintaining competitive advantage in various industry sectors.


1. What is an EDI acknowledgment?

An EDI acknowledgment is a message that confirms the receipt and processing status of electronic documents exchanged between businesses.

2. Why are EDI acknowledgments important?

They ensure the reliable exchange of information, reduce errors, and improve efficiency in business transactions.

3. What is a Functional Acknowledgment (FA)?

An FA confirms that an EDI document has been received and meets the required standards for processing.

4. When should I use a Purchase Order Acknowledgment (POA)?

Use a POA immediately after sending a purchase order to confirm its receipt and any acceptance, rejection, or need for changes.

5. What does an Advanced Ship Notice (ASN) provide?

An ASN gives detailed information about a shipment, including what's being sent, how, and when it's expected to arrive.

6. What is the purpose of an Invoice Acknowledgment?

It confirms that an invoice has been received and whether it's approved for payment or disputed.

7. Can EDI acknowledgments reduce manual data entry?

Yes, by automating the confirmation and processing of transactions, they minimize the need for manual input.

8. How do EDI acknowledgments support compliance?

They help businesses adhere to industry standards and regulatory requirements by ensuring accurate data exchange.

9. Are there different types of EDI acknowledgments for different industries?

Yes, the type and use of EDI acknowledgments can vary depending on industry-specific needs and standards.

10. What is the difference between a Functional Acknowledgment and a Message Disposition Notification (MDN)?

An FA confirms receipt and readability of documents at a basic level, while an MDN provides a deeper level of confirmation, including successful decryption and extraction of documents, in more secure environments like AS2 communications.

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