SFTI - eProcurement in Sweden (SFTI)

Published on: 06/10/2005

Many Swedish local authorities, county councils and government authorities have started with e-procurement. The Single Face To Industry (SFTI) is a joint effort, with representation from all three levels, on marketing and awareness activities related to electronic procurement, on development of common specifications, on encouragement of systems development and implementation, and on support to interoperability.

Policy Context

eProcurement for the public sector has the potential to make substantial savings. However, at the same time, companies cannot be expected to implement different solutions for different buyers. It was realised at an early stage that a common standard would facilitate things for all parties: buyers, suppliers and IT solution providers. The local, regional and national government, under the leadership of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities (SKL) and Swedish National Finance Management Authority (ESV), runs the SFTI project, which includes several important features: - The development of standard business processes, messages and data for different scenarios. - The development of standard is in accordance to international standardisation activities and the organistation for development of standards includes representation from both public and private sector/suppliers and ITproviders. - A programme of awareness rising with conferences, seminars, news bulletins etc. targeting local authorities, regions,government agencies, professional and other statutory bodies etc. to ensure the dissemination the results of the project. - A programme of seminars presenting good practice on, for example, how to move into eProcurement, management requirements etc. - Seminars for suppliers, some of whom could implement the standard in in-house provided software. - Activities involving the European Commission to disseminate the project and encourage replication of the model in other EU countries.

Description of target users and groups

Buyers, suppliers and IT solution providers

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The purpose of SFTI is to establish a single set of specifications for the interchange of electronic commercial transactions with all public operators, whether at governmental, regional (county council) or local community level. To achieve this, a platform of co-operation has been organised where representatives for all three levels meet with representatives for the suppliers to develop a shared view on the public procurement processes and agree on common specifications. The purpose in this co-operation is to identify user requirements, agree on standards and have the resulting specifications recognised among the various industries and groups of users

Technology solution

For the initial development of SFTI a decision was taken to rely on existing techniques and solutions. EAN Sweden message profiles, based on the EANCOM specifications, were chosen to express the SFTI business transactions. These specifications were already in use by suppliers to the private sector, suppliers that also serve the public sector, and it was seen as a cost-effective way for public sector to initiate EDI, as compared to starting with the general UN/Edifact messages. From a European or international perspective, openness and wide recognition of specifications are crucial and, in this respect, it is believed that EANCOM is an appropriate candidate. For certain areas of procurement the functionality of Edifact-based techniques appears limited and new recommended standards as a complement to EDI is based on XML. Svefakturan/The Swedinvoice) and new Order (Sveordern)is based on OASIS UBL standard/NES.Since SFTI is an active part in the CEN/BII workshop the standard will be based onsome of the deliverables from CEN/BII. .

Technology choice: Mainly (or only) open standards

Main results, benefits and impacts

The results to date are good: Alomst all of the municipalities,county councils and governmental agencies that have started with e-procurement uses SFTI results.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

The idea of a uniform public interface through SFTI has received strong support and the work will continue. So far it has been closely linked to traditional EDI, i.e. the use of UN/EDIFACT standards. New technology, like web-based interactive exchange of information has lead to even standard in XMLformat as a complement to the EDIFACT based scenarios for EDI.

Lessons learnt

Lesson 1. Experience show that savings can be made on the administrative side by merely creating system support for automatic matching of invoices against orders. When combined with a review of the logistic flows and organisation of work, more significant savings are indicated from the implementation projects. The nature of changes requires committed and persistent leadership, though. Lesson 2. We have been able to establish that it is vitally important for small to medium-sized companies in particular, to start trading electronically, and to reach the scope we require. It is important that these companies discover the advantages of electronic commerce and are given the potential to do it.

Scope: National