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  • Medium and large business getting started with eInvoicing

    This reference is designed to help medium and large businesses navigate the path to implementing eInvoicing using the Peppol framework.

    Each business is unique, so not everything here will apply to you or there may be more you need to consider.

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    Develop a business case for eInvoicing

    This information assumes that your business has experience in or access to project and process change management capabilities. It expects that you'll get advice on the operational aspects of your eInvoicing project through these channels.

    When developing your business case, consider the costs and benefits of each implementation option. Consider your business’s current invoice management practices to determine how Peppol eInvoicing may benefit your organisation.

    Identify and prioritise your eInvoicing implementation scope, such as:

    • focus on sending eInvoices or receiving eInvoices only, or both
    • consider whether your trading partners use additional documents, for example purchase orders.

    Knowing these details will help you develop the value case for adopting eInvoicing. It will help you prioritise effort and expenditure against other business priorities.

    Consider the following:

    • How many invoices do you send and receive, and how often?
    • How do you send and receive invoices (through what channels and in what formats)?
    • What is the effort to onboard suppliers and customers currently?
    • What information do you and your suppliers and buyers need on an invoice?
    • Do you use purchase orders (PO)? Do you provide the PO number to your suppliers?
    • How do you process the invoice (what approval mechanisms, systems, tools or applications do you use)?
    • How do you pay the invoice (what enterprise resource planning and financial management information systems do you use)?
    • Who are your top suppliers and buyers based on invoice volume?
    • What are your customer and supplier expectations for transacting digitally or more specifically via the Peppol network?

    To help assess your current operations and determine the eInvoicing value case for your business, complete the eInvoicing value assessment questionnaire.

    To get an overview, read the costs and benefits for business case development associated with Peppol eInvoicing.

    Benefits assessment

    eInvoicing simplifies and automates invoice exchange and processing and offers many benefits for your business, including:

    • savings in invoice processing costs and time
    • reduction of errors
    • increased reliability and security of data
    • ability to automate processing
    • reduced payment times
    • ability to connect once and trade with many partners
    • environmental considerations.

    Use the information from the assessment of your current-state invoice management practices to consider what benefits your business may gain by using eInvoicing. For example:

    • a switch to eInvoicing will remove manual data entry and manual intervention to correct and reconcile any inaccurate invoice data
    • 'connect once' to the Peppol network and the effort and cost associated with onboarding new suppliers and buyers will be reduced for all parties, potentially saving us many weeks of system changes and onboarding effort
    • enable our business partners to send invoice data directly to our systems, increasing the efficiency of our trading partner network, removing friction points and improving our interactions and relationships
    • enable our business partners to exchange invoice data directly from their software, allowing their experience and consequently our relationship with them to grow stronger.

    Include these benefits in your business case and project management documents. This will help influence decision making and build support for the change, including the flow-on benefits for your trading partners.

    Remember to include the costs associated with:

    • eInvoicing implementation
    • change management (including business process changes)
    • trading partner onboarding.

    Scope and implementation approach

    The effort required to adopt eInvoicing may vary depending on the current state of your invoice management. You may already have software, systems and processes that need little work to connect to the Peppol network. Or you may need to redesign your business processes and invest in new systems or tools to streamline your processing.

    You can choose to adopt eInvoicing at a pace that suits your business and your business partners. Some businesses choose to take a phased approach to implementation by starting with a few suppliers or buyers who have straightforward invoicing requirements, and then phasing in trading partners with more complex requirements.

    For others, Peppol eInvoicing is simply an additional channel for sending and receiving invoices with added benefits and an opportunity to streamline their electronic channels, for example, transition webforms to Peppol.

    Key considerations

    Identify what technical infrastructure and software systems capability your business currently has for eInvoicing. Determine if you need to address any gaps for your business to become eInvoicing-enabled.

    Business requirements

    When assessing potential software solutions, consider what your business’s requirements are for:

    • sending and receiving eInvoices
    • invoice processing procedures and workflows, including matching or verification, approving and paying
    • storage and archiving
    • reporting
    • disaster recovery and business continuity.

    Note: the Australian business number (ABN) is the business identifier that is commonly used to route your eInvoices in Australia. When sending eInvoices, your system should be able to include your ABN as well as your receiver’s ABN. If your current system does not support the inclusion of an ABN, your Peppol service provider may have a solution.

    Affected systems

    Once you have identified your preferred eInvoicing solution and method of connecting to the Peppol network, you will need to identify all systems and processes that will interact with your eInvoicing software to determine the change impacts.

    Costs

    Make allowance for the following when implementing eInvoicing:

    Upfront time and expenditure

    Your upfront investments may include:

    • information and communication technology (ICT)
    • project management (including change management)
    • supplier or buyer onboarding and testing
    • any other related internal costs (such as system integration).

    If your business has an ICT assurance team, this team may also need additional services to those needed by your finance team. These costs may either be one-off or ongoing.

    Ongoing costs

    Your ongoing costs may include transactional (per invoice) charges, data charges or a subscription charge by your service provider. These vary between service providers depending on your usage and service provider commercial model.

    Before you select a service provider, read selecting a Peppol access point for eInvoicing.

    Trading partner readiness

    It's important to understand the eInvoicing capability of your trading partners.

    Invoice processes that involve manual data entry by your business partners carry a cost premium. This is due to inefficiencies from manual intervention needed to address errors and discrepancies. Peppol could be an alternative.

    Involve your suppliers and buyers in conversations early and manage this contact through your relevant account managers.

    To test your preferred solution, consider your large volume partners or partners who are likely to have a good ICT capability.

    As part of your preparation, develop a strategy for how you'll communicate with your existing and future trading partners. Make sure they clearly understand that your business supports, encourages, and prefers to use Peppol eInvoicing, and both parties will gain benefits.

    Become eInvoice-enabled

    A business is eInvoice-enabled when they can send and receive an invoice through the Peppol network. When you become enabled to receive eInvoices, your service provider will list you on the Peppol DirectoryExternal Link.

    You can use the Peppol Directory to find other businesses that are registered to receive eInvoices. There is no register for senders as only receivers are registered in the directory.

    Businesses can become enabled for eInvoicing by using one of the following options:

    Connect through your existing software

    Many accounting software products already have eInvoicing capability. You may simply need to:

    • select eInvoicing capability through your software
    • ask the software provider to make a change to your service
    • in some cases, upgrade to the latest version or module of your software.

    Ask your software provider about whether their product is eInvoicing-Ready and what you need to do to get connected.

    Some businesses use multiple software products and different systems for their invoice management processes, such as:

    • job management or practice management software
    • optical character recognition (OCR) software
    • enterprise resource planning (ERP) software
    • financial management information systems (FMIS).

    Consider how you currently send, receive and process invoices. You may have an opportunity to streamline your processes with eInvoicing in one or different products and systems.

    You can ask for advice from your software provider.

    Select an access point

    In the same way that you need a telco provider to exchange phone calls and text messages to anyone on the phone network, you need a Peppol access point service provider to send and receive procure-to-pay documents to anyone on the Peppol network, including eInvoices. The access point manages the secure exchange of the documents between your systems and the Peppol network.

    Buyers and suppliers can choose their preferred access point to connect to any participant on the Peppol network.

    Depending on your system's configuration, you may choose to have a single access point for both sending and receiving eInvoices, or you may have different access points.

    Find out how to select a Peppol access point for eInvoicing. You can also browse the list of eInvoicing accredited service providers.

    Use a third-party access point

    If your existing software isn't eInvoicing-enabled, you can use an access point to connect your software to the Peppol eDelivery network (Peppol network).

    Many access point service providers offer a range of value-added services. These services may help you streamline and automate your processes beyond just transmitting documents across the Peppol network.

    The choices you make will determine the scale and complexity of your eInvoicing implementation project. In some cases, you might need to consider process improvements, system configuration, and change management planning and activities to support your staff during the transition.

    Business change considerations

    The implementation of eInvoicing may affect your business’s people, systems and processes, as well as your trading partners. The degree of impact will depend on the solution your business chooses and the amount of change that occurs from transitioning your current invoice management practices to the new practices.

    Managing the impacts of change is important to successfully implementing eInvoicing in your business:

    • Identify all key stakeholders (internal and external).
    • Assess how these stakeholders might be affected.
    • Determine the actions required to manage the impacts of any changes.

    Assess impacts and determine change management requirements

    Consider the following when assessing the impacts and change management requirements for your business and trading partners. Your business advisor, software provider or Peppol access point service provider can help you better understand these considerations.

    • How will an eInvoice flow through your system? How does this affect existing processes?
    • Who will need to interact with the new eInvoicing process? Why, when and how?
    • What will an eInvoice look like? What mandatory information will be needed on an eInvoice to ensure and streamline processing and payment?
    • For what other purposes do you use your invoice data? What other information do you include on invoices? (For example, some businesses use invoices for notifications or marketing).
    • How will issues with sending or receiving eInvoices be identified? How will these issues or exceptions be managed, and by whom?
    • What are the contractual implications for existing buyers and suppliers once the new invoice processing method is enabled?
    • What will change for your suppliers or customers? What information will you need to provide to help them make this change and how will you communicate this to them?
    • What other processes can your business streamline with the implementation of eInvoicing to maximise the automation opportunity. (For example, automated downstream workflow)?
    • How might eInvoicing affect the technical or procedural aspects of your existing financial reporting?
    • Will you be receiving additional information that needs to be incorporated in your financial or performance reporting?
    • What are the security and privacy implications of the move to eInvoicing?
    • What happens if you need to change the information on an invoice? For example, under Peppol you can send a credit note or negative invoice to adjust a previously sent invoice. The new invoice or credit note can reference the previous invoice number to indicate the new invoice is an adjustment. How will you manage adjustments, credits and refunds?
    • What business processes will need to change or be updated to support eInvoicing and who are the individuals or teams that will need to do things differently?
    • What is the capacity and capability of your finance team now, and will these requirements change after eInvoicing automation is embedded? A training needs analysis will best identify and plan any training requirements.
    • What training and user materials will need to be updated or developed? By when and by whom?
    • What policies and procedures will need to be updated or developed to support the use of eInvoicing in your business, and by when? Who will make these changes and who needs to be aware of and adhere to these changes?
    • Do you need an eInvoicing adviser within your team to liaise with suppliers and buyers?
    • Do you prefer to outsource trading partner onboarding to a service provider an access point that offers this value-added service?
    • Based on the above, determine
      • Who will need to know what, and when?
      • Who are all the affected internal and external stakeholders?
      • Who will need to know about these considerations and changes?
      • When and how will you communicate this to them?
       
    Last modified: 28 Mar 2022QC 67574