The choice of PEPPOL service provider is tricky given the number of suppliers

Ger Clancy, PEPPOL Brand Leader at IBM, has written an excellent article about “How to select a PEPPOL Service Provider?” on LinkedIn. Below I give my view of important aspects to consider when choosing a PEPPOL service provider.

The choice of PEPPOL service provider is indeed tricky, given the number of companies that supply PEPPOL services. While PEPPOL is a brilliant initiative that supports the digitisation of governments in Europe (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Holland and UK (NHS) being active), my experience is that in certain discussions, PEPPOL becomes the end, not the mean. PEPPOL is the means to an end, and that end is the digitisation of critical administrative processes.

Executed correctly, your digitisation program can generate significant savings for all involved parties. Some vendors in the market claim that savings are made by one part only (supplier or buyer) – but my experience after many years in this business shows that savings can be generated for everyone. At Pagero, we have numerous clients that testify to the same finding in our customer cases.

“A company selecting a service provider should carefully examine how the provider works with legal compliance.”

You need to look at more than the PEPPOL access point services

Assuming your PEPPOL provider fulfills Ger’s list of requirements (that is, they know what they are doing), will your PEPPOL investment generate savings? The answer is yes, if in addition your PEPPOL service provider:

  1. Ensures VAT compliance of your transactions (there are differences between countries),
  2. provides you with tools and services that will onboard your trading partners so that you can put your investment into good use, and
  3. supports your entire digitisation effort, also beyond PEPPOL.

Make sure the supplier offers VAT compliance over time

Firstly, VAT compliance is somewhat a buzz word in the e-invoicing industry – for a good reason I claim. VAT compliance rules differ between countries and are sometimes complex. In a mixed environment with both paper based and electronic transactions, there is certainly a thing or two to be aware of.

A company selecting a service provider should carefully examine how the service provider works with and maintains legal compliance features in the solution; both for issuing and archiving documents. This applies to invoices in particular, but also other types of transaction documents that you want to archive over time to prove the legitimacy of your business transactions. Examples are price catalogues, orders and order response messages.

At Pagero, we partner with TrustWeaver that provides compliance services. This way, we keep track of evolving legislation and other requirements in a large number of countries, and pass that knowledge on to our customers. This type of service is invaluable when you need to keep up-to-date with compliance regulations over time and across geographies.

“Onboarding is an activity that should be automated as much as possible and revisited frequently.”

Strategies for continuous onboarding is key

Secondly, onboarding is the key to turning digital. I recently read a thought worthy blog post by Tina Nunno at Gartner, called “Avoid the all or nothing strategy.” The essence of that blog post is to introduce changes and implement improvements one step at a time, as opposed to going for the “big bang” change.

Applied to digitisation efforts for administrative process, there is a clear parallel here. Let’s take e-invoicing as an example. Going digital is not done overnight. For example, your trading partners may not be ready to go digital right now. So what you need is a strategy for moving from analog to digital over time. Onboarding is an activity that should be automated as much as possible and revisited frequently.

At Pagero, we offer smart strategies for onboarding on a continuous basis. Among other things, Pagero Online actively searches your paper flows (printed and scanned invoices) to locate more digital flows, and notify our customers about new opportunities to switch them from analog to digital.

“While PEPPOL gains traction, major economies are not adopting PEPPOL as their platform for digitisation.”

Reach to PEPPOL is only a part of the solution

Finally, it is really important to keep in mind that PEPPOL is only a part of the solution. Not all your digital customers will be using PEPPOL as their infrastructure to send and receive electronic documents.

What if your service provider offered you the ability to integrate once, and reach ALL your trading partners whether they are using PEPPOL or any other infrastructure to cater for digital flows?

Remember, while PEPPOL gains traction in a number of European countries, other major economies are not adopting PEPPOL as their platform for digitisation (Italy, Spain, Turkey and all of Latin America to name a few).

Please do not hesitate me for further discussions about our offering!