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How to connect to the PEPPOL network in construction

Open ECX – a PEPPOL compliant Access Point for construction contractors and suppliers to the NHS. 

If you are a supplier to the NHS, your business will be expected to manage the sale of products and services to the NHS Trusts using the PEPPOL network.

The Pan European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL) is a central pillar of the UK Government’s eProcurement strategy for the NHS. It isn’t a construction eProcurement system but rather a common framework designed to connect organisations together so they can conduct business electronically, making trading with the NHS easier. If you are an NHS supplier, PEPPOL will mean processes are faster and more efficient.


How does PEPPOL work?

PEPPOL can be viewed as a ‘4-corner model’. This is where the supplier/buyer use different service providers (also known as Access Points) to exchange electronic documents (e.g. invoices, orders, order acknowledgements, etc).

It can be likened to the model used by mobile telephone operators where each mobile phone is assigned to a network supplier and they must work together to connect their client.  The service providers have agreed to be interoperable so that once a supplier is connected to a network, they become part of the wider network and can exchange documentation with any buyer on the network.


How does PEPPOL affect construction contractors and suppliers to the NHS?

So PEPPOL allows suppliers to connect seamlessly with their buyers, offering a standardised networking connection for electronic invoicing and ordering, removing the need for manual intervention.

This is all great news… so long as you’re not connecting to the PEPPOL network through a third-party portal. If you are, you could be missing out on some of the benefits of PEPPOL while dealing with the following in your invoicing process:

  • Inefficiencies through duplicate entry on multiple systems
  • Data integrity issues – which of the duplicate documents is the master?
  • Additional overheads – effort, resource and cost of managing multiple systems

EDI is an option, but notoriously expensive to integrate.


So how can construction suppliers unleash the power of PEPPOL to seamlessly connect with NHS buyers?

A large number of NHS organisations across the UK have already adopted PEPPOL, and by April 2020 all NHS Trusts are expected to be up and running. To trade, both the buyer and the supplier need to send documents through a PEPPOL compliant ‘Access Point’.

To ensure a single source of truth, the best option is to send invoices to buyers from your own finance system in the form of an application-generated PDF. So long as you can generate this PDF invoice, and send it via email, you can connect to any buyer on the PEPPOL network, using eInvoicing from Open ECX as your accredited Access Point. Open ECX has similarly easy options for sending and receiving other PEPPOL documents too, meaning you can soon be PEPPOL-ready and able to send and receive invoices and orders on the PEPPOL network, without any changes to your IT systems and without any need for inefficient third-party portals.


Key benefits of using Open ECX as your PEPPOL compliant Access Point

  • Retain data integrity and a single version of the truth by sending invoices directly from your back-office construction finance software rather than through a third part portal.
  • Non-disruptive – no changes are required to your processes or infrastructure and no software to install.
  • Onboarding set-up takes a matter of minutes rather than days or weeks
  • Receive NHS payments more quickly without having to chase lost invoices
  • Improved trading relations

To find out more about how we can help, please get in touch.

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