Reflecting on the past two years progress, Declan McCormack, Programme Manager, eInvoicing Ireland at the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) tracks the Irish eInvoicing journey so far.
The eInvoicing Ireland journey started in earnest just two years ago, with the launch of the European Standard on electronic invoicing and now over 85 per cent of Central Government bodies have become eInvoicing enabled, are compliant with the EU Directive and support the European Standard. This move to digital has been facilitated and enabled by the OGP’s national framework agreement for the provision of eInvoicing systems and services, ‘the eInvoicing Framework’. The eInvoicing Framework is available to access on the Buyers Zone at ogp.gov.ie
The European Directive 2014/55/EU on electronic invoicing ‘the eInvoicing Directive’ was transposed into Irish legislation earlier this year, allowing all other contracting authorities and contracting entities ‘Sub-Central Government’ until 18 April 2020 to reach compliance with the eInvoicing Directive. eInvoicing Ireland are working with Sub-Central Government sector partners in Health, Education and Local Government to support them in their preparations to achieve compliance with the eInvoicing Directive. Enabling all Government bodies to be eInvoicing compliant signifies a real commitment to the greater use of digital when doing business with the public service, which is one of the six high-level outcomes set out in the Government’s ‘Our Public Service 2020’ strategy.
A key component of Ireland’s transition to eInvoicing is Peppol – the network (akin to a mobile phone network) that connects businesses to governments, and businesses to businesses, for the electronic exchange of procurement documents including eInvoices. Since Ireland joined as a Peppol authority in early 2018, along with 19 other European countries on the network, Peppol has expanded beyond its European reach. Singapore has become a driving force, in South-East Asia, for Peppol-based eInvoicing, joining as a Peppol Authority earlier this year. In February the Australian and New Zealand Governments jointly announced their intention to adopt Peppol for eInvoicing business transactions across public administrations in both countries. From Pan-European to global network, this means that any Irish business, by connecting once to the Peppol network, can send eInvoices to anyone on the network – breaking down cross-border barriers to trade and opening up the world through digitisation.
The complete digitisation of invoice processing has a number of benefits including reducing the administrative burden on both the private and public sectors through the automation of processing and workflows. There are also the significant environmental benefits that transforming from paper to digital can enable, which go hand-in-hand with the growing focus by Governments world-wide on the climate and the green agenda. In addition to this, there’s the value of the data itself. The true value of transparent data is yet to be fully realised, as explained by Roberto Viola, European Commission Director General, DG Connect: “This future will be built on data and is increasingly becoming the foundation of our economy. The European data economy, can bring us benefits in terms of the development of new technologies and the emergence of ecosystems around data.”
The invoice links data in every step of the procure-to-pay lifecycle. eInvoicing allows access to this data in a standardised, structured and digital format. Connecting the data between business processes can help to transform how things are done. The ability to analyse and better understand such data enables public bodies to make more informed decisions with regard to expenditure, to deliver better outcomes for businesses and the public.
The second stage, on the journey to digital transformation, for Central and Sub-Central Government and the shared services and co-ordinating facilities who are already receiving eInvoices, is to raise awareness among suppliers that this digital option is available when doing business with the public sector. Encouraging suppliers to issue eInvoices will support eInvoicing in becoming the main method of invoice processing in public procurement. eInvoicing Ireland supports the promotion of supplier eInvoicing adoption, in accordance with the eInvoicing Directive and national eInvoicing approach, so as to realise the associated benefits.
About eInvoicing Ireland:
eInvoicing Ireland is a programme based in the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) and is responsible for facilitating public bodies in becoming compliant with the European Directive on eInvoicing (2014/55/EU). eInvoicing Ireland is supporting compliance with the Directive by promoting eInvoicing Awareness, Understanding and Action. eInvoicing Ireland is providing a wide range of materials and information tools for the various stakeholders including public bodies, suppliers and service providers.
For anyone looking to access the relevant information on eInvoicing in Ireland visit www.ogp.gov.ie/eInvoicing and for specific queries please email eInvoicing@ogp.gov.ie
Becoming eInvoicing enabled
In order to become eInvoicing enabled and reach compliance with the eInvoicing Directive by 18 April 2020, Sub-Central Government bodies should follow six steps:
1. Conduct an internal analysis of the organisation’s current invoice processing environment including invoice volumes, supplier profiles and the systems involved – eInvoicing Ireland have developed preparatory worksheets to support public bodies in undertaking this exercise, available at www.ogp.gov.ie/einvoicing
2. Identify the internal people/teams involved in invoice processing including the Finance, ICT and procurement teams
3. Develop the organisation’s eInvoicing strategy/approach, identifying whether basic compliance or fully integrated eInvoicing services/solutions are required for the organisation
4. Access the eInvoicing Framework through the Buyers Zone at ogp.gov.ie
5. The relevant lot for Sub-Central Government bodies is Lot 3, be sure to read the Framework documentation for Lot 3 carefully and follow the process to engage with the eInvoicing service providers on the Framework.
6. Once engaged, work with the eInvoicing service provider to implement eInvoicing across the organisation’s processes and systems, and with the relevant people.
10 things every Irish Government body needs to understand about the eInvoicing Directive
1. The European Directive 2014/55/EU on electronic invoicing in public procurement* applies to all Government bodies (all contracting authorities and contracting entities).
2. The eInvoicing Directive obliges all Government bodies to be able to receive and process electronic invoices in accordance with the European Standard for eInvoicing (EN-16931).**
3. The deadline for Central Government bodies to be compliant with the eInvoicing Directive was April 2019.
4. The deadline for Sub-Central Government bodies to be compliant with the Directive is April 2020.
5. The Directive applies to all invoices relating to Government contracts above EU thresholds. It is recommended that where Government bodies are receiving eInvoices relating to contracts above threshold they do not differentiate in terms of accepting eInvoices.
6. There is an exception for contracts declared to be secret/accompanied by special security measures.
7. The eInvoicing Directive does not prescribe how eInvoices should be sent, the Irish Government has chosen the Peppol eDelivery network for transmission of eInvoices in accordance with the European Standard.
8. The OGP eInvoicing Framework allows Government bodies access services and solutions which comply with the eInvoicing Directive and the national eInvoicing approach. To access this Framework log onto the Buyer zone on www.ogp.gov.ie and search for PEPPOL.
9. eInvoicing Ireland is supporting Government bodies to reach compliance with the eInvoicing Directive, for more information log onto www.ogp.gov.ie/eInvoicing and to join the eInvoicing community email firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Beyond basic compliance with the eInvoicing Directive, solutions and services which integrate into the accounts payable/invoicing systems offer a better opportunity to realise the eInvoicing benefits and real digital transformation.
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