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Onboarding trading partners for large businesses

Key principles and steps to onboard your trading partners to eInvoicing.

Last updated 2 November 2022

How to approach onboarding

Onboarding your trading partners is essential when implementing eInvoicing.

Onboarding will help you recoup costs and benefit from your investment more quickly:

  • Tailor your onboarding approach to align with your business objectives and plans.
  • Look for quick wins that can help remove inefficiencies and build momentum.
  • Get support and commit to a continued transition across your organisation and trading partners.
  • Don't leave onboarding until the end – it's not a one-off activity and will take time.
  • Involve multiple teams across your organisation, including procurement, contract management, accounts payable and customer or supplier-facing areas.


  • Ensure enough of your trading partners are eInvoicing-enabled when you go live to start transacting.
  • 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.
  • Use a phased approach when onboarding trading partners.

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 sending or receiving eInvoices (or both) with a small group of test partners before you go live.
  • Set targets, monitor and manage your supplier and customer onboarding efforts.
  • Look for opportunities to normalise eInvoicing. Make it the default channel where appropriate.

Steps to onboard your trading partners

Use these steps to help you with eInvoicing onboarding:

Step 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, get help 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. This register only contains receivers. Senders don't need to register.

Your business

  • Determine customer and supplier touchpoints within your business's accounts payable, accounts receivable 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 you may need to include in trading partner communication, engagement and education material.
  • Understand what end-user support might be available through 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 related business process changes and impacts. Consider the whole procure-to-pay process 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.

Step 2: 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  
    • start with your high-volume and high-priority trading partners to realise benefits quickly
    • focus on trading partners that have less efficient or only partly digitised eInvoicing channels, such as web forms
    • use current eInvoicing channels to help streamline or digitise
    • transition trading partners who use manual invoicing (your non-digital 'long tail') to remove processing inefficiencies.

Step 3: Plan to deliver in-house or outsource

  • Consider whether outsourcing your trading partner onboarding will deliver a better outcome than in-house delivery. If it will, include trading partner onboarding as a business requirement when you select an access point provider. Ensure you have sufficient funding in your business case for this.
  • To deliver in-house  
    • allocate someone to lead and focus on onboarding trading partners
    • 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 for the first 12–18 months and for the longer term, including go live
    • make eInvoicing onboarding part of your regular business activities
    • establish a way to monitor and measure onboarding activities and transaction volumes. For example, the number of trading partners who've adopted eInvoicing and have started exchanging eInvoices with you.

Step 4: Onboard your trading partners

Engage and communicate

  • Communicate and engage early. Work through your contract and engage account managers in the first instance.
  • Collaborate with other business teams, such as finance, procurement, contract mangers, project teams and communications.
  • 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 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 about eInvoicing. Give them contact details for questions or support.
  • Update your website to reflect your eInvoicing-enabled status.
  • Invite your trading partners to exchange eInvoices with you.

Test capability

  • Test exchanging eInvoices with a small group of trading partners.
  • Test sending and receiving eInvoices, any business-specific requirements and related business processes with this test group. Then refine processes before onboarding more business partners.
  • Ensure that the eInvoicing capability works as intended.

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

Ongoing procurement activities

  • Increase ongoing trading partner onboarding through your regular procurement activities.
  • Look for ways to embed and normalise eInvoicing as 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.
  • Make eInvoicing your preference in new procurement requests and panel 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.