December 6th, 2021

At this point we have talked about EDIFACT, a standard for EDI, quite a lot. So we know that EDIFACT defines a message for just about every B2B exchange you can think of, each of which can be easily recognized by a six-character code, for example, ORDERS, INVOIC, and DESADV.

The EDIFACT CONTRL (CONTRoL) message serves as a confirmation of sorts, and it is similar to ANSI X12’s EDI 997 transaction set (more commonly used in North America). You can also compare it to the Peppol Invoice Response message.

The Answer to Your Message

The EDIFACT CNTRL message provides a response after each received message and can be utilized by both buyers and suppliers. In sum:

  • It acknowledges receipt of the previous exchange.
  • It confirms acceptance or rejection of the message received.
  • It provides (in case of rejection) a detailed list of errors about the previous exchange.

A CNTRL message is always a separate exchange about one or more previously exchanged EDIFACT messages.

Why Utilize the EDIFACT CNTRL Message?

When working with EDIFACT, the CONTRL message is optional. However, it may be wise to opt for it, as EDIFACT CNTRL offers a number of advantages:

It saves time because it eliminates the time-consuming back-and-forth phone and email communication between buyers and suppliers. For example, if a buyer rejects an invoice, they can send a CONTRL message to their supplier to explain why.  

It creates transparency by providing additional insight into both order-to-cash and procure-to-pay processes. This provides enhanced control for both buyer and supplier and enables them to pinpoint where improvements are needed. 

It improves collaboration by ensuring that both buyer and supplier are well-informed at every step in the exchange process. 

What Does the EDIFACT CONTRL Message Contain?

Since an EDIFACT CONTRL message is often just an acknowledgement, this usually translates into a fairly short EDI message. A typical CONTRL message contains:

  • A header with the service segment (UNH segment)
  • A description of the exchange that triggered the CONTRL message
  • Identification of both sender and receiver
  • An acceptance or rejection code
  • Detailed error messages (in the case of an error)
  • UNT (closing segment in all EDIFACT messages)

Here's a little cheat sheet that will have you speaking EDIFACT language in no time:

  • A buyer (customer) sends a purchase order to their supplier (ORDERS).
  • The supplier confirms receipt of their customer's PO (ORDRSP).
  • The suppliers preps the order, ships it, and then shares the shipment details with their customer (DESADV).
  • The supplier sends their customer an invoice for the order (INVOIC).
  • The buyer acknowledges receipt of the supplier’s invoice (CONTRL).
  • The buyer provides their supplier with the payment details (REMADV).