Interoperability between Difi…

Interoperability between Difi and DIGIT in the area of e-Procurement

Published on: 07/05/2012

Sending of an electronic invoice across borders should be simpler than sending it by post. However, this is often not the case. Exchanging electronic business documents is subject to several barriers which may impede the data to flow between organisations. The challenge is not only to interconnect information systems but also to enable the sharing of business processes and meaningful information within a legal context across borders.

In the last years, public administrations have been working together to eliminate these barriers through common organisational and semantic agreements. The Business Interoperability Interfaces for Public procurement in Europe organised by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN/BII) [1] has created specifications for interoperable public procurement in several areas, such as electronic Invoicing. Public Administrations compliant to these profiles should not need to adapt their information systems to, for example, exchange electronic invoices, it all should happen seamlessly.
This is not theory, as it has been demonstrated by the PEPPOL [2] project and more recently by the Directorate-General for Informatics (DIGIT) [3] of the European Commission and Difi [4]. DIGIT and Difi have developed their information systems independently and have never bilaterally discussed the format, business rules, etc. of their electronic invoices. Nevertheless, both have adopted e-Invoicing systems compliant to CEN/BII:

·        Norway has adopted "Elektronisk handeslformat (EHF)" [5] as its standard format for electronic invoice and credit notes. The EHF is maintained by Difi (Agency for Public Management and eGovernment) and is based on the CEN/BII specifications.

·        The European Commission has developed e-PRIOR [6], an e-Procurement document exchange platform allowing the European Commission, the European Union Agencies and Institutions, and their Suppliers to exchange electronic documents. e-PRIOR implements the CEN/BII specifications.

Tests were performed in April that showed that these two communities were able to seamlessly exchange electronic invoices without any need to adapt their information systems. Interoperability was the result of the adoption of Open Standards and the creation of implicit agreements, which work across borders, at organisational, semantic and technical levels. Doing business becomes faster, easier and less expensive throughout Europe.