3 Key Takeaways from Peppol General Assembly
PEPPOL, Source-to-Pay, Business Network, E-invoicing
It has taken almost one month for me to collect my thoughts about the last big gathering of the OpenPeppol Association. Once a year the Peppol community gets together for their General Assembly to work on budgets, plans and of course to approve finances. Sounds pretty boring, right?
But let me assure you it isn’t. Every year it is exciting to see how the community grows and expands and comes up with new ways to use the Peppol network and well, humbly put: shape the future.
This year was no exception and this is why I wanted to take the time and go through the three key takeaways from the assembly.
1. Increased focus on different users
This is for me one of the major new developments. From this year on, there are now two user communities: one for end users and one for service providers. This is different to how Peppol was initially started. Closest to my heart is a community for service providers, which, by the way, represent the biggest part of the members. It is an important step to not only provide a community for the majority of members but also to give voice to the companies who actually make the Peppol network what it is. This community will also be able to bring development ideas to the management team and it will be exciting to see which innovative approaches will come out of this group. On a personal level this is also important for me because I am proud to be selected as chair for the service provider community.
2. International Peppol
Originally Peppol was built as a pan European network for public sector procurement. It has started to be the main Network for the B2B community already for a long time but in 2018 Peppol also moved outside of Europe. Singapore joined as an active member already last year and this year Peppol has also epanded to Australia and New Zealand. Also it is good to see that representatives from Singapore Peppol Authority have joined the Peppol management team, manifesting the international traction Peppol has gained also in its governance body. At the assembly we also saw representatives from the United States and I believe this further emphasizes that Peppol has the potential to gain traction as an international standard across the world. And as said in the beginning - now also expanding far beyond the public sector.
3. Highlights from the operational plan
If I think back to the operational plans presented at the Peppol GA, then I am happy to see that Peppol is not only gaining international traction but has picked up innovative speed. In my opinion, some highlights from the operational activities for 2019 are following.
- International standardization of the e-invoice. The topic of standardization has been an important one and it has been challenging that Peppol only in the last year implemented the European Standard for e-invoicing into the Peppol network. But now we have formed a separate working group, working on international standards for e-invoicing in order to be able to cope with new countries, such as those countries that don’t use VATs in their e-invoicing syntax.
- It is also very exciting to see that Peppol is really expanding to the e-tendering area as well and the first e-tendering platforms should join already during 2019.
- Even though there is still a long way to go to conquer the world with an e-procurement messaging Network, Peppol is already looking where prove itself in new areas. The process for that works so that a member country can incubate a new service and if it works, this new service can be taken in use by other countries as well. It’s similar to open source development when it comes to software. One example for this is Norway, which is now incubating payment services in the Peppol area. This means that basically payment orders between different ERP systems and banks will be accommodated through the Peppol network in Norway. One of the main reasons for that is that currently bank connections are still built to each bank separately. And in Norway the idea is to standardize this and to handle them through one network. The development in Norway in terms of payments goes largely in hand also with Norway's e-government initiative which they are also incubating right now. As some of you might know Estonia is one of the leading countries in the world already for a long time, considering the eGovernment topics. I am excited to see will the Norwegians be able to create something better with Peppol.
Looking at the points above it sure looks like 2019 will be an exciting year for Peppol but we also must be cautious. Peppol is now moving beyond Europe and expanding to new services. How much can the network and community accommodate? I love the agile approach with which we build this network of interoperability but I am also happy to see that the service providers now get a stronger foothold in the community to bring the business angle into the future Peppol development and ensure that the Peppol mission, enabling European businesses to deal electronically with any public sector buyer, is also ensured in the future.
Ahti Allikas has been active in the e-invoicing industry since the year 2000. He currently works as Head of Partners and Networks at OpusCapita, and is responsible for the development of the e-invoicing ecosystem. Ahti is a member of the executive committee of the European E-invoicing Service Providers Association (EESPA), serves as the OpusCapita representative towards the OpenPEPPOL Association, and recently joined the European Multi-Stakeholder Forum on E-Invoicing (EMSFEI).
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