What is PEPPOL?

One of the biggest advantages of electronic data exchange (EDI) is its longevity — it’s been around for over fifty years now. And in that time, its long list of established frameworks and best practices has become widely accepted. 

Together, these help to ensure a smooth and reliable transfer of electronic information. In turn, this enables businesses to streamline their supply chains — something that’s increasingly important in today’s complex, global world. 

One of the biggest contributing factors to making cross-border electronic information exchange faster, simpler, and more secure is PEPPOL. PEPPOL is a set of specifications that simplify and standardise the process of e-procurement, allowing organisations from across the world to send and receive electronic information seamlessly.   

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about PEPPOL — including what it is, how it works, and how it can benefit your business. So, without further ado, let’s dive in. 

Suggested reading: To learn more about running more efficient supply chains, check out our eBook, The Supply Chain Centred Business.

What is PEPPOL?

PEPPOL, or the Pan-European Procurement Online Standard, is a set of technical specifications and standards that aim to simplify the exchange of business-critical information — including invoices and transport infrastructure agreements — between organisations. 1 

For example, the PEPPOL Business Interoperability Specifications (PEPPOL BIS) standardise the way organisations in the PEPPOL network exchange electronic documents. Users of the PEPPOL network can implement these standards in existing eProcurement and eBusiness exchange services, making them interoperable between disparate systems across Europe and the world. 2

How does PEPPOL work?

To connect to the PEPPOL network, businesses must use a PEPPOL Access Point, typically from a third-party service provider such as Data Interchange. As the name suggests, Access Points act as a gateway to the PEPPOL network, allowing you to send and receive electronic documents to/from other organisations that are linked to an Access Point.  

There are over 300 PEPPOL Access Points worldwide, forming a global network through which businesses send and receive electronic documents. When sending an invoice, for example, your Access Point handles the process of sending the document to the recipient’s Access Point, while the recipient’s Access Point automatically forwards them any electronic invoicing. 

The four-corner model

The process that PEPPOL utilises is known as the four-corner model, with each corner representing a key component involved in the exchange of electronic information, namely: 

  • The sender
  • The recipient
  • Their respective Access Points

To understand why the four-corner model is so effective, it’s necessary to take a quick look at the models that preceded it. 

In the early years of EDI, businesses exchanged information directly, on a peer-to-peer basis — known as the two-corner model. This process required each business to set up its own communications system, enabling them to send and receive messages, and required new connections to be set up each time they exchanged electronic information with another business. However, this model had no evident scalability due to its one-to-one nature.3

Later on, businesses started to outsource the message handling to third-party service providers — i.e. the three-corner model. This was a significant improvement, but for EDI to work, both exchanging parties had to be compatible with the third-party service provider.4 

The four-corner model that PEPPOL utilises solves these issues completely. Because both Access Points are controlled by PEPPOL, there are no concerns about compatibility for either of the trading partners. Instead, they enjoy seamless and secure information exchange with anyone on the network.

Further reading: For a look at supply chain trends and the technology that’s driving them, take a look at our article: How to Unite Emerging Supply Chain Management Technology Trends.

The advantages of PEPPOL

So now we know what PEPPOL is and how it works, let’s get down to the most important part: the benefits that PEPPOL can bring to your business. 

While there are numerous advantages to using PEPPOL, the best way to realise and maximise them is to work with a trusted expert that can integrate PEPPOL standards with your business-critical systems. This is exactly what we offer here at Data Interchange (more on that later). 

So what advantages can PEPPOL bring to your organisation? Here are some key points to consider:

Becoming a preferred public-sector supplier

PEPPOL is the preferred standard for information exchange between companies in the European Union. In fact, all public-sector organisations within the EU must be able to send and receive invoices that comply with PEPPOL specifications.

By adopting the PEPPOL standard, you gain a competitive advantage over those that don’t, ensuring that you’re first in line to work with EU government organisations on public procurement. Building stronger partner relationships is important to any supply chain, so having easy access to a preferred standard will keep you in the good books of all the right organisations.

And when you consider that public procurement accounts for around 14% of the EU’s GDP, you can see the huge opportunity this represents for private sector companies.5

Your data transfers are secure and compliant 

The PEPPOL network places a strong emphasis on security, with all sensitive information encrypted when being sent. On top of that, there are 17 PEPPOL Authorities worldwide that are responsible for ensuring that all data transfers comply with strict technical standards and service specifications. 

This focus on security and compliance gives businesses peace of mind that the electronic documents they are sending and receiving are both safe from data breaches and in line with industry best practices. 

Improved security measures ensure your supply chains are cost-effective, as the investment in security now means you’re not faced with the costs of a data breach down the line.

You can use PEPPOL globally

While PEPPOL is the EU standard, it’s not limited to Europe. In fact, PEPPOL is well on track to becoming the globally-recognised standard for EDI thanks to the clear advantages it brings users. It’s already being used in over 70 countries across the world, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States — and the network is growing all the time.6

By adopting PEPPOL now, you’re setting yourself up to be able to conduct seamless and secure electronic data interchanges with organisations globally. In today’s interconnected world, expanding your EDI and supply chain capabilities could be the deciding factor between whether your business succeeds or fails.

Further reading: Interested in working with an expert to help you get the most out of EDI and PEPPOL? This article explains everything you need to know to choose the right partner: How to Choose the Right EDI Provider in 2022.

Data Interchange makes PEPPOL easy to implement

While PEPPOL brings many benefits, switching to a new e-messaging protocol is not without its challenges. That’s why it pays to work with a trusted industry expert, like Data Interchange. Thanks to PEPPOL EDI can be made easier, more standardised and more efficient.

With Data Interchange, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free transition to the PEPPOL standard, seamlessly integrating PEPPOL documents and practices with your existing systems and processes. Our PEPPOL offerings include: 

  • A fully licensed PEPPOL gateway: Utilise our approved PEPPOL access point and meet all your e-procurement requirements.
  • Integration capabilities: From APIs to ERP integration, we can help you integrate the PEPPOL standard across your business-critical systems.
  • Increased efficiency: Maximise the benefit of PEPPOL’s secure electronic document exchange to drive efficiency across your organisation. 
  • High-level security: With data encryption and digital signatures, you can be assured that data is safe and secure at every step of the exchange.
  • Industry expertise: Our dedicated UK and European teams contain a wealth of industry experience and expertise.
  • Backed by Microsoft Azure: Our PEPPOL Access Point is backed by popular cloud computing platform Azure, ensuring the highest levels of reliability, consistency, and security.

So, if you’re ready to adopt the PEPPOL network and are looking for a trusted partner to help you navigate that move, talk to an expert to find out how we can help. 

1  What is Peppol | Peppol 

2  Peppol ‘BIS’ Specifications – An Overview

3  Overview of an e-Invoice Interoperability Framework | BPC 

4  E-Invoicing Glossary | Exchange 

5  Public Procurement | European Commission

6  What is Peppol | Peppol

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