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  • Onboarding trading partners to eInvoicing

    Onboarding your trading partners to eInvoicing is a key part of your business's transition to this channel.

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    How to approach onboarding

    Onboarding your trading partners is essential when implementing eInvoicing. It will help you recoup costs and benefit from your investment more quickly.

    Don’t leave onboarding until the end. It is not a one-off activity and will take time. It will involve multiple teams across your organisation, including procurement, contract management, accounts payable and customer or supplier facing areas.

    Tailor your approach to align with your business objectives and plans. Look for quick wins that can help remove inefficiencies and build momentum. Garner support and commit to a continued transition across your organisation and trading partners.

    Objectives

    • Ensure a sufficient number of your trading partners are eInvoicing enabled when you go live to start transacting and realising benefits straight away.
    • Influence your high-volume trading partners, or those using less efficient invoicing channels, to become enabled first. You can achieve this through ongoing communication and conversations at key engagement points during the contract management cycle.
    • Phase in the onboarding of other trading partners to realise the full benefits of eInvoicing.

    Key principles

    • Engage and communicate early. Both you and your trading partners will need time to prepare for eInvoicing.
    • Plan and progress onboarding in parallel with your technical implementation. This will minimise the time lag between being enabled and starting to transact.
    • Partner with your finance and procurement teams and with other relevant business areas.
    • Test your send or receive capability (or both) with a small group of test partners prior to going live.
    • Set targets, monitor and manage your supplier and customer onboarding efforts, and look for opportunities to normalise eInvoicing. Make it the default channel where appropriate.

    Steps to onboard your trading partners

    You can use the steps below to inform and guide your eInvoicing onboarding activities:

    1. Understand your environment
    2. Segment and prioritise
    3. Plan to deliver in-house or outsource
    4. Onboard your trading partners

    1. Understand your environment

    Learn about your environment and what you need to understand, including:

    Your suppliers and customers

    • Analyse your suppliers and customers and identify the highest value opportunities for transitioning to eInvoicing.
    • Categorise trading partners by criteria such as
      • invoice volume, value or frequency
      • eInvoicing capability or digital readiness
      • those using less efficient or non-digital channels
      • procurement arrangements such as contracts, supplier panels and standing offer arrangements.
       
    • If required, seek assistance from your finance or procurement teams or run a short survey.
    • Check if your suppliers and customers are already eInvoicing enabled using the Peppol Directory. Note this register shows receive capability only, not send capability.

    Your business

    • Determine customer and supplier touchpoints within your business's accounts payable (AP), accounts receivable (AR) and procurement processes.
    • Identify the channels and documents used to communicate with your trading partners, such as purchase orders, invoice templates, contracts, and websites.
    • Understand your procurement regulatory requirements, such as contracts and contract management practices, payment terms and other relevant policies and guidelines.
    • Document any business requirements for invoice receipt, validation rules, payment approvals, exceptions management and other processing considerations. This includes mandatory Peppol eInvoicing data elements.

    Your Peppol service provider (access point)

    • Some service providers offer supplier and customer onboarding as an add-on service. Check if your provider offers this.
    • Understand and document any integration requirements that may need to be included in trading partner communication, engagement and education material.
    • Understand what end-user support might be available via your service provider for your internal teams and your trading partners.

    Changes and impacts

    • Onboarding your trading partners to eInvoicing needs to be an important part of your change management process.
    • Identify trading partner dependencies and any related business process changes and impacts. Consider the whole procure-to-pay process (not just invoicing) and who is affected.
    • Build trading-partner-related actions into your change management and communications plans.
    • Identify any trading-partner-related risks and issues, and determine actions to mitigate, monitor and manage these.
    • Identify purchasing and procurement documents and guidelines that will need updating to reflect your eInvoicing capability. For example, purchase orders, work orders, invoice templates and websites.

    Segment and prioritise

    • Use your supplier and customer analysis to segment your trading partners and define your list for onboarding them to eInvoicing.
    • Prioritise trading partners for early onboarding based on your analysis, segmentation, and the highest value outcomes.
    • Consider different approaches to develop an optimal plan, such as:
      • starting with your high-volume and high-priority trading partners to realise benefits quickly
      • focusing on trading partners using invoicing channels that are less efficient or only partly digitised (such as web forms). Use the eInvoicing channel to help streamline or digitise where it might otherwise be difficult to do so
      • transitioning trading partners who use manual invoicing (your non-digital 'long tail') to remove processing inefficiencies.
       

    Plan to deliver in-house or outsource

    • Consider whether outsourcing your trading partner onboarding will deliver a better outcome than in-house delivery. If yes, include trading partner onboarding as a business requirement when selecting an access point provider. Ensure you have sufficient funding in your business case for this.
    • If delivering in-house:
      • Allocate a project resource to lead and focus on trading partner onboarding.
      • Include trading partner onboarding in relevant plans, such as project, change management, engagement and communication plans.
      • Take a phased approach to onboarding. Define phases and timeframes, commencing with your high-priority trading partners.
      • Set targets, including for go live, within the first 12–18 months, and for the longer term. Embed eInvoicing onboarding as part of your regular business activities.
      • Establish a mechanism to monitor and measure onboarding activity and transaction volumes. For example, the number of trading partners who've adopted eInvoicing and have started exchanging eInvoices with you.
       

    Onboard your trading partners

    Engage and communicate

    • Communicate and engage early. Work through your contract or account managers in the first instance.
    • Utilise and adapt the resources available for communicating with your trading partners.
    • Collaborate with other business teams, such as finance, procurement, contract mangers, project team, communications team, account managers.
    • Work together with these teams to inform and guide tailored engagement, communication and messaging for each trading partner segment, including the benefits and value proposition and appropriate resources and channels.
    • Consider partnering with other stakeholders such as peak bodies, advisers and digital service providers to also help influence and drive uptake of eInvoicing.
    • Talk to your trading partners about your plans to become eInvoicing enabled. Check if they’re already able to send or receive eInvoices, and how they can become enabled if they’re not already.
    • Inform trading partners of timeframes, outline key changes, requirements for eInvoicing, and the new way of doing things. Tell them what it means for them.
    • Let trading partners know where to find more information or help to get started. Make sure you provide a point of contact for questions or support.
    • Update your business website to reflect your eInvoicing enabled status and invite your trading partners to exchange eInvoices with you.

    Test capability

    • Identify a small group of trading partners to test the exchanging of eInvoices with your business.
    • Test the send and receive capability, any business-specific requirements and related business processes with this test group. Then refine processes before onboarding more business partners.
    • Ensure that the capability is working as intended.

    Note: You can discuss testing with your service provider. They may be able to help you identify potential test partners.

    Ongoing procurement activities

    • Increase ongoing trading partner onboarding progressively through your regular procurement activities. Look for ways to embed and normalise eInvoicing as a natural part of doing business and make eInvoicing the default channel where appropriate.
    • Update purchasing and procurement guidelines and templates to let your trading partners know you are eInvoicing enabled. Invite them to eInvoice with you, including purchase or work orders, invoices, contracts and other guidelines.
    • Incorporate your eInvoicing preference into new procurement requests and panels arrangements.
    • Discuss eInvoicing with your trading partners at key points in the contract management cycle. For example, at sourcing, contract establishment, review and renewal.
    • Build your eInvoicing preference into all renewed or new contracts.
    Last modified: 06 Apr 2022QC 69206