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Nailing successful B2G e-invoicing: Scotland shows how it’s done!

Of course all over Europe government have to be able to receive and process e-invoices from its suppliers. Most of the times when an e-invoicing project is initiated, the initiator tends to make it easier for himself, imposing any burdens on the others. This is worrying to say the least, because as B2G e-invoicing is meant to reduce administrative burdens, it is no exception that the implemented (read: imposed/mandated) solution actually increases administrative burdens for companies.

Luckily there are some areas in Europe that understand that you increase your benefits with e-invoicing by facilitating your suppliers. In Scotland for instance. They are doing things differently…

The Scottish Government E-invoicing Solution

The Scottish Government E-invoicing solution is being delivered through the Professional Electronic Commerce Online System (PECOS) Software Licence Agreement and is available to all Scottish public sector bodies regardless of the Purchase to Pay (P2P) solution they have deployed. Public bodies who do not use PECOS are able to use the E-invoicing solution as it can deliver e-invoices in a variety of different formats, supporting the majority of the main finance systems in use across the Scottish public sector.

The solution is compliant with the requirements of the EU Directive on electronic Invoicing which states that an e-invoice is one that has been issued, transmitted and received in a structured electronic format which allows for automatic and electronic processing, for example, no manual intervention.

So, how does the E-invoicing Solution Work?

  • “A supplier sends their invoices to a pre-determined email address. Although any readable data format would be acceptable, it is likely the majority of suppliers will issue invoices in a PDF format generated straight from its billing application.”
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    Yes, you read it….
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    Although any readable data format would be acceptable, it is likely the majority of suppliers will issue invoices in a PDF format generated straight from its billing application.
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    The Scottish nailed the essence of B2G e-invoicing, by looking at the possibilities of their suppliers; as you can see confirmed in the Q&A section: “As a supplier you will only be required to email PDF invoices to an email address. Each public body will have a dedicate email address and upon receipt of this you will be requested to send eInvoices.  PDF invoices are the most commonly issued eInvoices. However, for those suppliers who prefer other forms of invoice delivery to PDF, all readable data formats are accepted.”
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  • The application connects to the eInvoicing email server then collects and processes each new email received.
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  • The application reads the invoice data embedded within the PDF (or any other readable data format), validates it against pre-agreed validation rules and produces an XML file which contains all the electronic invoice records.

Whether public bodies are PECOS or Non-PECOS, the Scottish Government eInvoicing solution can be used:

  • PECOS Users
    The XML file is posted by the service provider via a secure Web based facility to PECOS. Once invoices are matched within PECOS, using the automated workflow for the invoice integration that already exists, it will pass over the matched invoices to the finance system for payment.
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  • Non PECOS Users
    If the public bodies matches and processes invoices in their finance system the most common way to deliver the data is to simply drop it into an sFTP folder. The public bodies finance system will then pull the data in automatically during an overnight run into the finance system where existing workflow will manage the invoice through to payment.

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