Benefits of eInvoicing for software providers: An infographic

eInvoicing automates the sending and receiving of invoices directly between businesses' software. Countries in Europe and South America were among the first to mandate eInvoicing and others around the world are starting to follow after seeing the benefits. In Australia and New Zealand, more and more government agencies and their suppliers are connecting to the eInvoicing network. Often the benefits of eInvoicing are focused on end users, but what are the benefits for software providers? We’ve gathered some statistics to explain some of the benefits for software providers and their customers at a quick glance.

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4 things to think about when choosing an eInvoicing Access Point

Businesses around the world are recognising the benefits the Peppol eInvoicing network. Some of the benefits are:
  • easier invoice processing
  • cost savings
  • faster invoice payments
  • fewer errors
  • exchanging invoices directly to and from software
  • security
  • it’s 60–80% more efficient than paper-based processing.
If you’ve decided eInvoicing is right for you, the next step is choosing an eInvoicing Access Point. It’s important to make the right decision the first time around to avoid changing providers later on. Four main areas to consider when comparing eInvoicing Access Points are:
  • technical capability
  • experience
  • pricing
  • support.

Technical capability

An eInvoicing Access Point’s technology plays an important part in assessing their capability. Some of the things to ask are:
  • Does your eInvoicing Access Point have an integration with your ERP or accounting software? If they already have an integration with your software, the eInvoicing setup time is usually much quicker.
  • Can your Access Point translate files to the Peppol standard? This is important if your software doesn’t export files in the Peppol standard. If you’re not sure about your software’s file format, ask your software provider.
  • Can your Access Point send more than just invoices? Future-proof your investment by checking that your Access Point has other Peppol messages on their product roadmap. Automate the exchange of other supply chain documents such as purchase orders, advanced shipping notices and remittance advices once they’ve been added to the Peppol standard.
  • Can your Access Point provide other services? Some providers also offer Single Touch Payroll, SuperStream and electronic data interchange (EDI) solutions so you can bundle your services with the one provider. Some can even automate invoice reconciliation through an integration to your bank. Ask them what other services they offer.
  • Does your Access Point provider offer tools to onboard your customers and suppliers? eInvoicing is only beneficial if your customers and suppliers can exchange invoices with you. Here at MessageXchange, we offer a free service for you to onboard your customers and suppliers. It’s free for them to join and exchange invoices. Your Access Point may also have a service for you to test your messages before going live so you can make sure your message is compliant before you start sending eInvoices.
  • How does your Access Point make changes to their software and infrastructure? Find out their security and infrastructure procedures to make sure your business won’t be impacted when they perform security patches and releases.

Experience

Experience is important when comparing Access Point providers. Your Access Point will be your first point of call for information, so ask them how they keep on top of eInvoicing news and developments. Beyond experience in eInvoicing, it’s beneficial for your Access Point to have experience in related areas, such as electronic data interchange (EDI) for example. Providers with similar integration experience can provide insights and different approaches for your business to achieve its supply chain goals. They might have case studies you can look at. Ideal providers will have worked with businesses in your industry and location so they can provide you with insights and help along the way. If your Access Point has staff familiar with the countries you operate in, they’ll also be able to help you comply with the local requirements.

Pricing

Find out how your Access Point charges. Take the time to understand their model. Do they charge per message? On data consumed? The number or kilocharacters? Are their plans capped or uncapped? And look at their charging model for ongoing support. Be clear about what’s chargeable and what’s not. This will ensure you’re both on the same page and will reduce likelihood of conflict in the future. As well as the cost to you, ask your Access Point to provide you with a guide to work out the expected cost savings from eInvoicing. You can use this to set your expectations and to review the project once it’s been up and running for a while.

Support

Finally, look at the support they offer. Does their support model work for you? Support is crucial when implementing eInvoicing so make sure you‘re fully aware of what is included. Having support in the country you operate in makes your eInvoicing implementation much easier. Ask provider how quickly they respond to enquiries from customers. MessageXchange is the first Peppol-certified eInvoicing Access Point provider in Australia.

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eInvoicing Access Points: Building your own vs outsourcing it

Access Points are vital to eInvoicing. But why are they so important? As part of the four-corner model, Access Points send and receive trade documents between two parties. Organisations who want to connect to the Peppol eInvoicing network need an Access Point. Access Points go through a certification process set by the Peppol framework. It sets out the standards and interoperability requirements for providers. Certification ensures providers have the capability and compatibility to function within the network, to help maintain reliability and stability of the network and manage risks that might damage the trust of the network. Businesses have two options when it comes to Access Points:
  1. Choose to become an Access Point themselves by going through the certification process.
  2. Work with an Access Point service provider, such as MessageXchange, to connect you to the eInvoicing network.
In this blog we compare both options to help you decide what’s best for your organisation.

Cost and infrastructure

There are a number of costs and infrastructure requirements to become an Access Point. Costly hardware and infrastructure are one thing, but the associated maintenance costs are another substantial cost. There are also a number of compliance-related costs to become a Peppol-certified Access Point. Some include:
  • ensuring your software is compliant with Peppol requirements
  • security, which requires multiple controls, one of which is adherence to ISO 27001 or ASD/NZ ISM standards
  • adherence to messaging and e-delivery standards.
All these are required to obtain and maintain your Peppol certification. On top of this, Peppol charge a sign-up fee and an annual membership fee. When using an Access Point service provider, all the costs and requirements are covered by the provider, and the costs are often shared among all their clients. Overall, this makes it much less resource intensive and often much more cost effective.

Time

Becoming an Access Point is a very time-consuming process. The Australian certification process looks like this:
  1. Comply with operational framework The operational framework is a set of standards used to enable access to the eInvoicing network. The framework is split into four areas:
    • Legislation and policy: Ensure you comply with the implementation guidance and governance of the local authority.
    • Organisational interoperability: Ensuring you are able to comply with all requirements for sending invoices (and adjustment invoices) and recipient created tax invoices. You must demonstrate you can connect with all corners within the four-corner model. Unique business identifier requirements need to be adhered to so businesses can be found. A business address needs to be established for all businesses to be able to send and receive documents.
    • Semantic interoperability: Sets out requirements to ensure different applications can read and process information that is exchanged.
    • Technical interoperability: This involves standards and protocols to exchange information securely and reliably between businesses (directly or via service providers).
  2. Security compliance You’re required to implement security controls equivalent to ISO 27001 or ASD/NZ ISM standards, which can often be a lengthy and costly process in itself. You also need to implement encryption in transit and at rest, security monitoring and multifactor authentication.
  3. Join OpenPEPPOL Fill in registration form and pay the annual subscription.
  4. Expression of interest This is submitted to the local Peppol Authority, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
  5. Sign Transport Infrastructure Agreement (TIA) Following membership approval, you need to sign the Transport Infrastructure Agreement (TIA) with the ATO. You will also need to sign the New Zealand Annex 5 if you want to be certified in New Zealand.
  6. Complete due diligence Checks relate to business operations, senior staff, criminal record and insurance.
  7. Complete security questionnaire You must show evidence of adherence to ISO 27001 or ASD/NZ ISM, encryption requirements, security monitoring and multi factor authentication.
  8. Testing
    • Unit testing Verify your ability to send and receive Peppol documents in line with eDelivery Network specifications within your own environment.
    • Obtain test PKI certificate Request a test PKI certificate from OpenPEPPOL and fill in the form. This form will then be reviewed by both Peppol and your local Peppol authority.
    • Peppol acceptance testing – eDelivery network compliance This happens within the OpenPEPPOL test environment to ensure you comply with Peppol eDelivery network specifications.
    • Interoperability testing This involves working with a partner to test interoperability. In Australia, scheduling and identifying your partner is done by the ATO. You need to allow a lead time of two weeks for the ATO to find a suitable partner.
  9. Receive certification
  10. Proceed into production
By using an Access Point service provider, you don’t need to go through any certification process. Instead, you just need to provide some information for them to tailor their service to your business. This includes:
  1. Determining your file format If you’re software doesn’t produce the Peppol standard file format then your Access Point may be able to translate, or map, your file for you.
  2. Connection type Your Access Point will need to know what connection protocol you require for your software. This might be API, sFTP or something else.
  3. Business identifier Access Points require your business identifier to register you in the eInvoicing network. In Australia and New Zealand, the ABN and NZBN are needed to uniquely identify organisations when exchanging eInvoices.
Connecting to the Peppol eInvoicing network using an Access Point service provider can take less than a day.

Knowledge

Another fundamental aspect of becoming an Access Point is knowledge. You’ll need to keep up-to-date with developments and requirements from Peppol and the ATO. You’ll also need to connect with other Access Points and rectify any issues that come up to send and receive documents. All these things will require knowledgeable staff and dedicated resources. Access Point service providers take care of all developments as they come out. There’s no need to connect with Access Points, Peppol or the ATO. It’s all taken care of. Using an Access Point service provider can save businesses money, time and hassle when connecting to the Peppol eInvoicing network.

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