PEPPOL is on everyone’s lips these days as the magic month of April 2019 approaches. But what is PEPPOL, how does it work and how does Pagero differ from other PEPPOL service providers? Hanna Sterner gives you the answers.
In search of a simplified e-procurement process
In the early 2000s, it became clear that a technology standard for e-business needed to be developed across Europe.
Although some governments and regions had already introduced the process of electronic procurement, the systems varied from industry to industry, state to state and often region to region. Additionally, they often operated with closed networks, leading to inefficiencies and confusion when working with organisations outside of their networks. In short, there was little – or else very resource-heavy – interoperability.
In 2008, a common framework was initiated to simplify e-procurement across borders. The framework was named PEPPOL, or Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line. The overall objective was to enable businesses to communicate electronically with all their European counterparts in the procurement process, to increase efficiencies and reduce costs.
OpenPEPPOL and PEPPOL Access points
The non-profit organisation OpenPEPPOL (a consortium of interested businesses) makes sure that PEPPOL is an effective infrastructure for working with digital documents. It ensures that the infrastructure and technology are in keeping with both current and soon-to-be-passed EU law.
The infrastructure is further strengthened by the qualification process which solution providers that wish to connect to the PEPPOL network must go through. To become a PEPPOL Access Point, they must go through an accreditation process, either with OpenPEPPOL directly or with a local PEPPOL Authority (see next section). Businesses and government entities must use the services of an accredited access point to receive or send e-documents through PEPPOL.
“In 2008, a common framework was initiated to simplify e-procurement across borders.”
OpenPEPPOL works closely with the EU Commission and closely follows the development of EU directives and guidelines. It is also in close contact with representatives from each country’s government who have adopted PEPPOL as their chosen infrastructure.
Its close collaboration with different stakeholders from a multitude of interest groups means that organisations working in partnership with accredited access points can be confident that their e documents will be fully compliant.
Local PEPPOL Authorities
Not only are access points overseen by OpenPEPPOL, they must also follow guidelines and rules set out by the local PEPPOL Authority. If a European country decides to adopt PEPPOL, it can decide to either adopt all PEPPOL regulations as detailed by OpenPEPPOL, or to create its own PEPPOL Authority under OpenPEPPOL. By creating its own authority, it can introduce local regulations and rules to closely regulate regional e document traffic.
Although it is not possible to change the rules as set out by OpenPEPPOL, it is possible to adapt them to ensure that e documents comply with any additional or differing regional laws. Norway, an early adopter of e-invoicing mandates, set up its own authority, Difi (Direktoratet for forvaltning og ikt), to allow it to adopt, adapt and tighten the rules and regulations within its borders.
When an authority does adapt the rules, it is crucial that PEPPOL Access Points with traffic in the set region closely follow these changes to ensure interoperability and compliance.
PEPPOL’s yellow pages
Members of the integrated network created as a result of PEPPOL are listed in the PEPPOL directory, also known as the “yellow pages” of the PEPPOL network. It is a free-to-browse, Open Source service, built and operated on behalf of OpenPEPPOL, making it easy for PEPPOL participants to find each other in the network and identify each other’s capabilities.
A template for e-documents
When discussing PEPPOL, the infrastructure is commonly confused with the PEPPOL BIS (Business Interoperability Specifications) format. The PEPPOL BIS format was developed by PEPPOL to be used as the default format for traffic through the PEPPOL infrastructure. It was developed as a result of a workshop, Business Interoperability Interfaces for Public Procurement in Europe.
PEPPOL BIS is designed for common e-procurement processes to standardise the electronic documents exchanged. It is validated through an open and secure network, between sending and receiving Access Points for public sector buyers and their suppliers across Europe.
“Pagero’s platform is built to keep up-to-date with the latest PEPPOL requirements in any region.”
In short, PEPPOL is the infrastructure for transferring e-documents, and PEPPOL BIS is a set of rules on how to structure the information in the e-documents, similar to a template. In the latest PEPPOL BIS version 3.0, PEPPOL Authorities have been given room to introduce regional rules to the format, allowing them to adapt it to their region instead of feeling the need to add a region-specific format to the network.
A close and effective relationship
Pagero is an active member of OpenPEPPOL and we represent our clients in different working groups. We bring to the table our extensive experience with the different infrastructures and networks used throughout Europe and actively work to help our clients to be compliant in all regions.
Pagero is accredited and approved for traffic in all PEPPOL regions, which is not true of all PEPPOL Access Points. We do not believe in limiting our clients to any specific region, but instead, ensure that we provide the full extent of PEPPOL’s reach to all our clients.
Further, the Pagero platform is built for seamless updates to keep up-to-date with the latest PEPPOL requirements in any region. This ensures clients are not left with all the heavy lifting when it comes to watching the ever-changing digital landscape.