Simplify Electronic Invoicing with the help of Adobe

A few months ago, during the CEN/ISSS meeting in Brussel, the scenario below was presented as a solution to enable Electronic Invoicing for SME’s.

The scenario is based on provisions that are currently available to companies such as XML message standards and readable document formats (PDF, Word, Open Document). When organizations want to establish Electronic Invoicing with all of their trading partners they are obliged to maintain two different formats: a data file and a readable image. The presented scenario is not going to make it easier for participants because senders and receivers need to take into account the capabilities of their partners.

For realizing general adoption, a message exchange environment is needed that enables all companies to participate whatever their maturity level and capabilities. This technical environment should ensure that all trading partners can reach each other regardless of the message standards being used.

Extending the reach is not only about connectivity but also about being able to process the content of an invoice as an image or as data.

The solution for this issue is a multi-purpose exchange standard, an XML Data Package that contains a readable image of the invoice as well as the document data. The exchange standard requires a technical platform for generating the XML Data Package at the sending side and processing the data at the receiving side. Apart from that a “reader” for viewing the image is required for companies that are not yet able to process the data automatically in their financial applications.

There are potentially two solutions available that can be used as the basis for the multi-purpose exchange standard:
- the Adobe XDP (XML Data Package) format

- the OASIS Open Document format.

Both formats are XML-based containers that are able to support all of the available international data exchange standards. The solution of Adobe has already been implemented for exchanging documents. Adobe wrote a white paper, “Using Intelligent PDF to support compliant eInvoicing solutions” to explain their solution approach.

The Open Document format is also an XML container and supported by several Open Standards minded companies. A working example based on the Open Document format is not yet available.

Although both formats lend themselves perfectly for realizing the multi-purpose exchange approach there still is much work to do before the multi-purpose exchange standard can be processed and transmitted by everyone.

On the weblog of Adobe you can watch a video that explains the power of their intelligent PDF forms. During the video they also indicate that every international message standard can be used as the basis for data storage.

Tags: electronic data interchange, HR-XML, UBL, e-Invoicing, e-Business

Last updated: 27-11-2011

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