The PEPPOL network is expanding rapidly in different parts of Europe. If you are not yet familiar with this acronym, I encourage you to take a closer look. PEPPOL is changing electronic cross-border procurement and invoicing in Europe. It is facilitating trade between companies while also helping them digitize their purchase-to-pay chains. Companies that want to maximize the benefits of electronic invoices should be paying attention.
PEPPOL provides interoperability
PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement Online) was created as a result of a project led by the European Commission to facilitate electronic cross-border procurement and invoicing between European suppliers and the public sector. The OpenPEPPOL organization has been responsible for further developing the related standards since 2012. OpusCapita has actively participated in this work.
PEPPOL has become a significant option for the exchange of electronic invoices in Europe, as it resolves the single most major challenge related to messaging between companies: general interoperability. The PEPPOL network has consistent definitions for all of the three key levels: addresses, document formats and transfer method infrastructure. The standardized infrastructure creates a many-to-many network that is easy for operators of all sizes to join. In addition to being a channel for electronic invoices, PEPPOL is a network for exchanging documents related to selling, buying and paying, from catalogs to purchase orders and order confirmations.
Up until now, many companies have overlooked PEPPOL, as it is a standard for the public sector. However, the network is gaining a strong foothold of the transmission of messages between companies. In Norway and the Netherlands, for example, B2B invoices already represent a considerable share of the traffic in the PEPPOL network.
Expand your partner network
More than 60,000 buyers across Europe have already joined the PEPPOL network, and the number is growing. This makes PEPPOL an excellent way to quickly expand your network of potential partners. If your business operations have already expanded—or will expand—beyond borders, you should be paying attention.
The network is being actively used in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium, among other countries. It is also used in the healthcare sector in Great Britain, for example. New EU directives require public-sector organizations to receive and send electronic invoices by the end of 2018, which has made PEPPOL a topic of conversation in many other countries, most recently in Poland. The national implementation of the related directives will further accelerate the introduction of PEPPOL, and I believe its effects will soon be reflected in trade between companies.
160 Access Points to reach Europe
To join the PEPPOL network, all you need to do is choose an Access Point; that is, a service provider, such as OpusCapita. Through a single Access Point, you will reach all of the other Access Points within the network, which currently total 160 and are used by companies and organizations in different parts of Europe. The ease of the infrastructure is similar to that of a cellular network. Sending invoices and other documents between companies is as effortless as making a call on your mobile phone: even if you are using a different operator than your partner, you will reach one another as long as you know each other’s telephone numbers. The operators will ensure technical interoperability, among other considerations.
The Access Points operate under the PEPPOL authorities responsible for their respective areas or sectors. There are currently eight PEPPOL authorities. Information about the parties receiving PEPPOL messages is collected in general recipient (SMP) registers. There are currently more than 40 SMP registers. The number of Access Points and registers has increased markedly over the past year, which is a clear indication of rapidly increasing interest in PEPPOL.
Be ready today
PEPPOL is already part of OpusCapita’s Business Network Services, making it more comprehensive. We also have more than 50 interoperability agreements with service providers around the world. Through PEPPOL, we can further expand companies’ and organizations’ opportunities to sell, buy and pay efficiently in the European market and integrate automation into purchase-to-pay chains.
Joining the PEPPOL network is an easy way to be prepared for the future. If you are already using electronic invoicing, you will not need to change your current operating methods: as your service provider, we will be responsible for sending and receiving invoices and for transmitting documents related to the purchase-to-pay process in a compatible manner. Formats, standards and protocols should never be your headache. Require accessibility and let your service provider take care of the rest.
Heikki Pulli has fifteen years of experience in customer-focused business development, particularly electronic supply chain management, electronic invoicing, and integration and data management solutions. At OpusCapita, he is working with B2B integration solutions and for promoting digital business networks among customers and stakeholders.
How can your company benefit from PEPPOL? Watch our recorded webinar to find out how PEPPOL will help you resolve key challenges in the purchase-to-pay process. You can also view the presentation material on SlideShare.