Findings from the E-Invoice Interoperability Workshop

The Business Payments Coalition (BPC) spent 2 full days continuing the GAP analysis of the PEPPOL and Australian model for the US market. 8 key findings came from their meeting.

In early September, the Business Payments Coalition (BPC) E-invoice workgroups met at the US Federal Reserve of Minneapolis to continue their discussion of the GAP analysis of PEPPOL and Australian model. There was a lot of important information discussed, but these 8 main points stood out when it comes to making waves in the US market.

1.   Group Perspective is Critical

Growth doesn’t occur from just one individual’s ideas. It truly takes a team to make a change. To get a full picture, it is important to have feedback from different people with diverse backgrounds, representing disparate groups. Over our two days, the group struggled frequently with how a component of PEPPOL was relevant to the US market. Having feedback from all the different types of users allowed us to put together use cases that represented the varying needs of US organisations.

2.   Remember the Goal

It’s easy to get caught up in the intricacies but doing so can also accidentally make you lose scope of the greater project. Over the two days, we often found ourselves diving into specific details deeper than we needed to. It was important to take a step back and remember that we were conducting a GAP analysis, not creating the final requirements. For a group of driven individuals, taking things slowly can be a hard task. However, keeping our focus on our main objective allowed us to look at the problem and decide if it was a gap, without feeling to need to create a solution quite yet.

3.   UBL (Universal Business Language) Is a Flexible Standard

While there has been no decision on what standards will be applied to the US format, several members of the e-invoicing committee also participate in the OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) technical committee. This was especially helpful as we went through the EU and Australian standard formats, as they use UBL.

4.   Blockchain Can Be an Empowering Technology

Especially for projects such as the e-invoicing interoperability, blockchain could provide the security and visibility needed for successful adoption. There is still some question as to how it could be deployed, and the use of public versus private chains isn’t entirely clear yet, but it’s important to look at all technologies available in order to build a solution that can be reliably used for decades.

5.   The Fed Pulled off a Surprise Move

OK, so this was not exactly a finding, but it was something we learned when we took a tour of the Reserve Bank building. In 1997, the Minneapolis Fed moved to a new building. Only a few people knew when the move was happening. One night, the route from the old building to the new was lined with busses, manhole covers were sealed, and sharpshooters took position on rooftops along the route. All the money was moved in the cover of night, and hardly anyone knew it happened until the next day. Listening to the employees tell the story reminded you of a scene from an action movie!

6.   Admit What You Don’t Know

We all know that there are very different tax regulations between the US and the EU. When reviewing these from a data perspective, it is easy to say that the US does not use much of what the EU standard has in place. However, the group realised that we did not have adequate CPA knowledge in the room, so we decided to plan a secondary review of our findings with accounting professionals to ensure that the US standard has adequate tax reporting capabilities.

7.   Yes, This is Possible

At the end of our workshop, there was a greater sense of optimism. Yes, the PEPPOL and Australian formats need to be modified to fit the US market. However, the gaps that were found were not so immense that we cannot leverage the work that these groups have already done.

8.   Governance Will Be Key

The ultimate findings of the Semantic and Technical review groups found that while there are no glaring gaps for US adoption, a strong governance model must be built to effectively roll out a US model. The BPC will need to engage many different types of organisations when looking to build this. For this project to be successful, we will need a strong, independent body to verify access points, maintain the directory, and arbitrate any disagreements within the industry.

Ready to Learn More?

The deadline for Italy’s mandatory e-invoicing mandate is set and authorities have stated they don’t plan on extending it. Do you have questions regarding e-invoicing? Contact us – we’re here to help!