PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement Online) is a European standard for online electronic invoicing and other electronically transportable documentation, including e-cataloguing, e-ordering, and e-delivery. The objective is to achieve greater ease in the movement of goods, capital, people, and services within the single market, and make communication between government bodies and companies more streamlined for all procurement processes within the EU.
Companies and communities that adopt the use of PEPPOL specifications can expect to see massive returns in terms of savings. This is primarily achieved by establishing actions that improve data and information communications through switching to online alternatives from the more traditional manual methods of paper and print documentation.
NHS Adopts PEPPOL Specifications
In May 2014, the UK department of Health announced that the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) was going to be adopting the use of PEPPOL specifications as part of their on-going e-procurement efficiency strategy. PEPPOL messaging standards are set to be established throughout the healthcare sector and its supporting supply chains, forecasting a saving to the NHS of GBP 1.5 billion by the end of the 2015/16 financial year.
These savings will be made possible by the NHS investing in technology solutions that support PEPPOL specifications of e-procurement, e-ordering, and e-invoicing throughout its supply chains. The NHS’s decision to get on board with a PEPPOL-based solution to its documentation requirements represents a ‘significant milestone for OpenPEPPOL’ (Andre Hoddevik, OpenPEPPOL Secretary General) in the efforts to promote and roll out PEPPOL on a much larger, and indeed, global scale.
OpenPEPPOL is an association set up in September 2012, now with over one hundred member organizations spanning public and private sectors across eighteen European countries, the U.S., and Russia. It is a non-profit international association that has overseen PEPPOL specifications implemented across European borders, which have solved interoperability issues of electronic procurement. It has assumed full responsibility and tasking for the development and implementation of PEPPOL specifications across Europe.
The work of OpenPEPPOL has seen the Council of the European Union approve a common standard for electronic invoicing in public procurement. The directive aims to remove market barriers of interoperability that arise due to differing national rules, laws and standards, as well as to facilitate the transition to e-invoicing for businesses across member states. The development of a data model, defined as the ‘European e-invoicing standard’, is currently underway, setting out a structured set of terms and their meanings that aim to standardize the spec and core elements of the electronic invoice.
The implementation of the standard, combined with obliging all contracting authorities to accept e-invoicing, assures businesses that their e-invoices will be accepted by public authorities across the EU.
Even so, there is still currently a general lack of interconnection and interoperability at the European level across digital service infrastructures. However, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) are currently determining methods and conditions for providing financial assistance to trans-European networks that support projects of common interest. The European Parliament has also approved an investment package which supports pan-European digital projects, with priority given to services which include e-identification, e-signature, e-delivery, and e-invoicing.
The technology is there, the funding is there, and increasingly the interest is there, and so it surely now won’t be long before the infrastructure is there on a much larger scale, and the adoption of PEPPOL specifications will become the standard backbone of electronically transportable documentation and procurement throughout trans-European networks at large.