Now that both the Australia and New Zealand governments have committed to the PEPPOL e-invoicing network, many businesses across Australasia are faced with the task of getting connected as well.
With PEPPOL being a very new solution to almost everyone in the region, there is a degree of uncertainty around what e-invoicing entails and what the best approach will be.
While this is true for every company, the ERP Vendors and Solution Providers in particular will need to make some decisions, and make them quickly.
These companies know that they need to be part of this conversation and provide PEPPOL e-invoicing options to their clients, but the problem is that many don't know where to start.
So, where to start?
In order to send or receive e-invoices each entity needs to be registered to a Peppol Access Point. At this stage there are only two ways to do this:
- The first is to partner with someone that is accredited by the regional authority you are based in.
- The second way is to attempt the accreditation process yourself in order to stand up your own access point.
At the time of writing this article there are three accredited commercial providers in NZ and six in Australia (note: All three of NZ accreditations are also on the Australian list meaning there are only 6 unique companies at this point in time).
Basically the choice boils down to whether you ‘want to make it yourself’, or ‘buy it from someone else’.
When it comes to the ERP Vendors and AP Solutions Partners, the knee-jerk reaction for both will be to go through the certification process themselves. After all, software development is already an integral part of what they do.
However just because you can do something, that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for either the software vendor or their customers. The certification route is one that carries both immediate upfront expenses as well as ongoing costs.
There are also some practical elements to such a project that are worth considering before heading down that path:
1. Subscription Costs
Part of both attaining and maintaining accreditation includes joining OpenPEPPOL.
This membership has initial sign-up fees, as well as ongoing annual subscription costs.
In some scenarios, depending on the volumes, this cost alone could be more than the cost of an Access Point as a Service partnership.
The process of becoming an Peppol Access Point Provider requires demonstrating technical capability and security compliance.
It’s not surprising then that there are several providers in various regions who have achieved PEPPOL accreditation, but who have yet to make their solution work in a commercial model that can scale with the demand.
In short: they are allowed to provide a solution, but don’t yet have one that actually works.
If you are an ERP Vendor or a Solutions Partner providing AP/AR services, the solution you provide will need to be flexible enough to scale with the growing volumes as more companies begin e-invoicing, yet it still must be robust enough to be dependable.
3. Hosting platform
Once you have accreditation and your API is ready, you need to consider the hosting platform.
The hosting platform needs to be secure enough to meet various customer compliance requirements, yet accessible enough that it doesn’t require investment in hardware or proprietary software
For a corporation seeking to provide their own solution, this doesn’t carry the same risk as for a software vendor supplying services to multiple customers.
For the latter, they not only need to address challenges like duplication, multi-tenanting, platform, et cetera, but they also have to contend with the data transformation challenges of dealing with multiple systems.
Once you have your accreditation, you have to determine how to onboard your new and existing clients without having to start the integration from scratch each time.
This likely means creating an API as a fixed touchpoint for their workflows. This also means documenting the API in such a way that it is accessible and easily understandable.
If you are an ERP Vendor or a Solutions Partner, you also need to consider the staffing requirements. There is no point in having a marketable solution unless you also have the capacity to implement it.
5. Support & maintenance
OpenPeppol releases minor updates twice a year which require implementation within 7 days of release. New document types are also regularly released, and major updates to underlying protocols occur every few years.
So, aside from the significant investment of time and money to get a scalable, secure, API-based solution to the market, you need to keep up-to-date with all the changes, retain accreditation and adjust your API. Having your own Access Point solution means you have to keep it maintained.
In addition to maintaining an Access Point Solution, you also need to maintain the trained state of your support to ensure your customers have no issues.
Finally, Accredited Peppol Access Points are required to report volume and other data to OpenPeppol monthly which is another administrative task that needs to be factored in.
While building a solution and gaining accreditation is a possible route, you also need to consider the time building your own access point is going to take. Not just in terms of your time-to-market, but also management cost, R&D and implementation teams.
A Peppol Access Point as a Service however, could literally be up and running in days. Why wait months while your customers are evaluating other solutions, and your competitors are progressing?
The question then becomes whether your company is leading the conversation or reacting to market changes.
Would you rather catch the wave or float on the tide…?
Build it or buy it?
If you have considered all these aspects and still want to travel this route then I applaud you. I genuinely look forward to seeing your name on the accreditation lists.
The more accredited providers there are, the more end-users and volume there will be on the network, and the more everyone realises the benefits of PEPPOL e-invoicing.
However, if the implications of such a project seem daunting, costly and time-consuming, then Storecove would be happy to help enable your solutions.
What Storecove can do for you
Storecove's API is highly suitable for ERP systems, MRP systems, online accounting packages, online payment systems and other software providers.
Our easily implementable solution offers:
- AS4 support
- RESTful API with OpenAPI specification
- Developer sandbox mode for easy integration
- Single integration, even when the formats used on the Peppol network change
- Professional support
- No implementation fee
- No need to go through the Peppol certification process since you will be using our Peppol certificates
In short, the API connects your software to the Peppol network, giving your clients the ability to send and receive e-invoices to international government agencies and companies from within your own software.
Need further assistance regarding the purchase of a compatible Peppol access point solution? Feel free to give us a call on +31 (0) 20 261 17 91 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
More information about becoming a Peppol Access Point?