Posted by Rachel Ho Jan 13, 2022 5:33:05 PM

The digital transformation has revolutionised almost every area of modern business, and the cards are stacked against the few remaining holdouts. Here's how PEPPOL e-invoicing might help you make the transition even if your peers are lagging.

Why Digital Invoicing Matters

Is the true paperless office still just fantasy? The COVID-19 pandemic has been a great example of how the business community isn't quite there yet.

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According to the Singapore Business Review, 80 per cent of workers surveyed in Singapore continued trudging into the office during lockdown just to sort invoices! The survey team assessed hundreds of workers to discover that, on average, these professionals were stuck performing manual billing processing tasks for 218 hours each. Unsurprisingly, this was a massive stress factor that limited efficiency and cost-efficacy.

Clearly, there are gaps between the digital ideal and the business reality, leaving the stage perfectly set for PEPPOL e-invoicing. Backed by global participants, like the EU and Singapore, this initiative is battering down traditional barriers to invoice sharing. Companies that sign up can send bills to each other directly from opposite sides of the globe. The system doesn't require human intervention, so processing, payments, and resolutions are quicker and more rewarding.

PEPPOL e-Invoicing for the Uninitiated

In theory, digital invoicing ought to go far beyond merely exporting formatted bills to PDFs and attaching them to emails, but that's about as far as many companies get. Business owners have to prepare, send, and receive invoices by the score. Each one represents yet another minor expense in terms of time, money, and manual labour alike. It doesn't take long for these straws to break the camel's back, and ironically, the problem gets worse the faster you grow.  

The PEPPOL e-invoicing standard facilitates public procurement by starting with the networks that power it. Participating network maintainers use the framework to provide services that let businesses like yours conduct cross-border digital procurement activities way more cost-effectively. For instance, you don't have to go through the sheer tedium of converting documents from one payment system or ERP format to another because the PEPPOL ecosystem does it all en-route when you send invoices.

PEPPOL's unique design delivers more than just ease of use, however. Businesses depend on it instead of other frameworks because they can rely on its:

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  • Interoperability that ensures different software components and invoice formats work together,
  • High service quality IT framework that lets businesses sync with each other and disseminates messages instantly, eliminating billing intermediaries,
  • Cross-border conversance that supports EU, Singaporean, and other international data-sharing best practices, and
  • A publicly accessible transmission network facilitates companies augmenting their client or partner lists with their choice of hundreds of thousands of compliant partners.

Is PEPPOL the Solution to High-impact e-Procurement?

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PEPPOL e-invoicing isn't an e-Procurement platform: It's far better. Instead of transitioning to some complicated piece of software you have to learn and then possibly get locked into, you get to leverage a flexible, open standard that works with existing tools.

This means you can choose any dedicated business management or procurement tool that meets your needs out of the box. As long as the software supports PEPPOL, you can trust that it will handle your procurement tasks.

While alternatives to PEPPOL do exist, they aren't nearly as widespread, open, or internationally accepted. PEPPOL's flexibility may also make it the framework of choice for businesses that want to engage in smart B2B marketing and outreach. For instance, not being tied down to a specific procurement workflow means that you can transmit a wide range of related digital documents with other companies, including catalogues, orders, and advance shipping notes. You can even send certificates attesting that you've complied with import rules governing agricultural items and similar products.

The digital transformation is happening whether you like it or not. It makes perfect sense to expand your capabilities in kind. After all, your ability to talk the talk might prove key to sustaining business relationships with forward-thinking partners.

InvoiceNow: Singapore's Nationwide PEPPOL e-Invoicing Initiative

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Singapore has long promoted digital business. Its revolutionary national e-invoicing initiative, known as InvoiceNow, is a prime example. The country's efforts proved instrumental in introducing PEPPOL to Asian markets, with the Singaporean Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) becoming the first non-European PEPPOL Authority.

 The Singapore government also invested heavily in onboarding and grantmaking so that by 2020, most suppliers would use the InvoiceNow network to submit invoices. Today, the nation hosts a high concentration of PEPPOL-ready solution providers and the Access Points that let businesses use the system.

Read our blog, 'How InvoiceNow Works Better When It's Backed By Tessaract', to get detailed insights on maximising InvoiceNow's benefits through Tessaract.

The Origins of a Good Idea

The European Commission and the PEPPOL Consortium kicked off the original Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line project in 2008. This initiative focused on making electronic procurement easier while facilitating international business – The apparent reasoning was that by getting numerous countries on board, companies that wanted to work in those markets would ultimately benefit. This plan also had the bonus of simplifying communications between industry players and government institutions, which played out just as intended with InvoiceNow in Singapore.

How PEPPOL e-Invoicing Works in Singapore

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Becoming conversant with the InvoiceNow system is the key to using PEPPOL in Singapore. Since IMDA built InvoiceNow to adhere to PEPPOL requirements, it's the primary source of truth for sending and receiving procurement data digitally.

As with its international counterparts, InvoiceNow uses the XML-derived format known as Business Interoperability Specifications (BIS) Billing 3.0 UBL to encode documents. Independent Access Point maintainers provide the software services that map your invoices between different third-party document formats and BIS variants.

What does this all mean if you're a business owner? In short, your obligations end with clicking "send" or opening a document you've received. All other stages, including reformatting and transmitting, are handled by the Access Points and the PEPPOL network.

Why PEPPOL Is Worth Using

We've already mentioned that digital invoicing is essentially the future. However, this isn't about doing something just because everyone else is. By modernising your procurement system, you'll derive benefits that are hard not to love:

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  • Electronic data interchange takes less work – and requires less funding – when the system handles the details for you.
  • Human errors are easier to eliminate when your team doesn't have to spend hours reformatting and manually processing invoices.
  • Instant invoice delivery typically results in larger, more sustainable cash flows, making it impossible for data to go missing in transit.
  • Invoice verification becomes highly automated: Not only do you spend less time and money, but you also raise your likelihood of catching mistakes with time to spare.
  • Vendor-agnostic procurement lets you make the upgrade without having to give up the business systems you've grown accustomed to.
  • Workers who get to do something they love instead of chipping away at endless mountains of paperwork tend to be happier and more productive.

To better understand how workflow automation can help your company boost productivity and growth, visit our blog, 'How You Can Power Your Business With Tessaract'. 

How Can Your Enterprise Get Going With PEPPOL?

Companies can get started with e-invoices in Singapore in a snap: They just need to connect to an Access Point Provider with IMDA accreditation or partner with a certified PEPPOL Service Provider. Most companies prefer the second option because service providers offer more turnkey solutions that require minimal configuration or maintenance.

Remember: Whichever provider you choose should bear a stamp of approval from the appropriate official body or government entity. Certification and accreditation are the only ways to confirm that the business services you depend on satisfying the standard.

What Does PEPPOL e-Invoicing Cost?

PEPPOL e-invoicing and the IMDA's InvoiceNow are free services. You don't have to pay to set up a profile and start sending or receiving documents using the network.

Of course, not all solutions are equally effective. Cloud-based business management software services that integrate smoothly with your existing workflows make it easier to reap the full rewards: Using Tessaract lets you leverage the benefits with minimal overhead, onboarding, or growing pains, so you can get started accepting payments in minutes!

How to Send PEPPOL e-Invoices on Tessaract

Tessaract lets you send PEPPOL e-invoices easily. Start by finding the business you'd like to work with on the Singapore PEPPOL Directory. Then, use your Tessaract dashboard to pick an invoice and transmit it via InvoiceNow – the system imports the correct data automatically.

Using PEPPOL Makes Smart Sense: Why Not Do It the Easy Way?

PEPPOL e-invoicing is the inevitable future for companies that want to procure digitally – and grow expansively. Improving efficiency, reducing payment delays, and cutting costs empower businesses to achieve more and ensure their finances can keep up.

Power your finances with Tessaract

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Tessaract is a PEPPOL-ready Solutions Provider, so you don't have to jump through hoops to share information, find new partners, and transact internationally. Exchange invoices from anywhere. Send billing requests to partners no matter how they do business. Simplify workflows and never miss another deadline. With all of your bookkeeping and accounting in one place, Tessaract refines your approach to apportionment, deferred income schemes, and other processes, freeing you to focus on higher-level strategies. Power your finances with a system that delivers profits by signing up for Tessaract today.

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Rachel Ho

Written by Rachel Ho