PEPPOL Network – Set To Have Enormous Impact on Government Suppliers

PEPPOL, in its own words, is a Pan European Public Procurement Online (network) with a set of technical specifications that can be implemented in existing e-Procurement solutions and e-Business exchange services to make them interoperable between disparate systems across Europe. While not an e-Procurement platform, it enables buyers and sellers to exchange electronic documents over the PEPPOL network, such as e-Orders, e-Advance Shipping Notes, e-Invoices, e-Catalogues, and so on (if you can see through all the e's). Its use is governed by 'OpenPEPPOL'  the international non-profit association under Belgian law consisting of both public sector and private members, which is responsible for coordinating the PEPPOL e-Delivery network for e-Procurement and e-Invoicing.

Last year, the UK National Health Service adopted the PEPPOL trading platform to manage its procurement processes, enabling electronic versions of its purchase orders and invoices to be exchanged digitally - an important step in becoming compliant with the European e-Invoicing Directive due April 2019, which will oblige all public sector bodies to be able to receive electronic invoices. The government computing website explains it well here.

Two weeks ago Ireland’s Minister of State with special responsibility for Public Procurement signed up to OpenPEPPOL. On officially becoming a PEPPOL Authority Member, the Government Chief Procurement Officer and CEO of the Office of Government Procurement said:

‘... The interoperability that the PEPPOL network delivers is key to the standards-based, sector-led approach to e-Invoicing being adopted by Ireland, providing a ‘Connect Once – Connect to All’ channel for suppliers, while respecting the diversity of the public and private sectors both here and throughout Europe.’

And Secretary General, OpenPEPPOL remarked:

"... The thorough assessment made by the Irish Government before taking this step, and the clear linking between joining OpenPEPPOL and the implementation of the European eInvoicing Directive should serve as an example also for other countries in Europe. Ireland joins a growing number of European countries using PEPPOL as a cornerstone for their national eInvoicing activities. The continued growth of OpenPEPPOL well positions the association to support and enable the move towards the Digital Single Market."

The overriding purpose is for European businesses to deal electronically with any European public sector buyer, increasing opportunities for greater competition for government contracts and providing better value for tax payers’ money.

The pros (digital efficiency, compliance, transparency, etc) and the cons (transformation of current systems, processes and skillsets to accommodate digital invoices and POs, upgrading accounts payable processes in line with the PEPPOL requirements) are outlined in an article this week over on Public Spend Forum Europe. Phil Douglas, Managing Director at invoice management specialists Compleat Software, gives us his view on what this means for firms dealing with the public sector and the gains of signing up to OpenPEPPOL.


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