What is a Peppol access point?
To exchange trade documents electronically between businesses is both efficient, environmentally friendly, profitable, timesaving, and quality-enhancing. However, due to a variety of standards, formats, and systems, such exchange requires someone to facilitate the process. For many years now, Peppol has played a key role in facilitating electronic exchange in Europe, and the access points are essential for the Peppol network to function.
Peppol and the three pillars
Peppol was established as a project in 2008 to simplify and facilitate electronic trade between organizations – both nationally and across borders. The Peppol infrastructure is based on the “four corner model,” and makes it possible for members of Peppol to exchange trade documents with each other through so-called access points using standardized document formats.
Peppol is developed, managed, and maintained by OpenPeppol, a non-profit organization headquartered in Belgium. OpenPeppol consists of members from both the public and private sectors, spread across 42 countries. 18 of these countries have their own Peppol authority, and these countries can call themselves members of OpenPeppol.
In simple terms, you can say that Peppol is based on three major pillars – each of which handles an important part of the infrastructure:
Peppol eDelivery Network:The technical infrastructure of the Peppol network.
Peppol BIS(Business Interoperability Specifications): The document specifications.
Peppol Interoperability Framework:The legal framework that defines the network governance.
The network ensures that the interaction between the parties works, the document specifications define what the standardized document formats should look like, and the legal framework covers the legal agreements, governance, and compliance measures.
The Peppol access point – your electronic post office
A Peppol access point is like an electronic post office for members of Peppol. It receives, converts, and forwards trade documents (such as orders, order confirmations, dispatch advice, and invoices). A company can choose to connect to any access point in Peppol, and thus gain access to electronic commerce with all other companies in the network. In other words: you only need an agreement with one access point in Peppol to be able to interact with all the other members.
The sender, the sender’s access point, the receiver’s access point, and the receiver together constitute the four parties in “the four-corner model” of Peppol, read the article "How does EDI work?". The process starts with the sender submitting the document (e.g., an invoice) to its access point. This access point converts the document to a standard Peppol format (BIS) and forwards it to the recipient’s access point – which in turn converts the document to the recipient’s preferred format. This way, all organizations can exchange electronic documents with their access point in their preferred format, and reach all their trading partners in the Peppol network regardless of their systems and document formats.
An integrated network with the SMP and SML
The SMP (Service Metadata Publisher) is a local, digital address book with overview of members in Peppol. It contains information about how members can receive trade documents, including their electronic delivery addresses, supported trade processes, and accepted document formats. In most countries, the access points themselves must establish and maintain their own SPMs. However, in some countries, such as Norway, an open and national SMP is established for all access points within the country. In Norway, this SMP is called the ELMA-registry.
The SML is the global address book in Peppol that gathers the contents from all SMPs in the network.
Is an “access point” the same as an EDI service provider?
Some access points are also EDI services providers, but not all EDI service providers are Peppol access points. The term “access point” is used for the EDI service providers that can connects you to the Peppol network, while EDI service provider is a more general term for companies that help other companies exchange electronic trade documents in one way or another – whether this is through direct links between seller and buyer, through national EDI networks, or by other means.
An access point can thus help you send and receive documents in the Peppol network, while an EDI service provider with an access point can also help you send and receive the documents through other channels and networks.
Read also “The advantages of EDI”
Best practice access points
In Norway, DFØ (The Norwegian Agency for Public and Financial Management) awards some access points for following defined best practices. In addition to being able to offer all services in Peppol, these access points must also meet certain criteria – such as being able to receive large files up to 100MB, provide easy access to status for their customers, and provide correct and clear information about their services and products. Logiq is one such “best practice” access point. See full overview here.
How do I choose an access point for my business?
Whether you want to get started with electronic commerce through Peppol for the first time, or you are considering changing your access point, the usual way to get more information is to contact your ERP service provider. These providers usually have an overview of available access points, and they can make recommendations based on your company’s needs. You are also more than welcome to contact Logiq for a conversation about how we can help you with Peppol.
Learn more about choosing an EDI service provider in the article “Are there any differences between EDI providers.”