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How Sweden implemented eInvoicing from the ground up

eInvoices received from 2 EU countries

How Sweden built up eInvoicing from the ground-up and how you can leverage on the existing CEF services

Sweden’s eInvoicing excursion dates back to the 1990’s before the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) was established. This meant that the Swedish authorities developed electronic invoicing from the ground-up. Read their story here and realise how easily CEF eInvoicing services can help you implement eInvoicing and what impact eInvoicing has already had on Sweden’s public administration.  

Sweden and their Single Face To Industry initiative

The Single Face To Industry (SFTI) initiative was born out of a central effort to promote e-procurement in 1998. The initiative was part of a government digitalisation reform to increase administration’s efficiency and the desire to encourage the use of modern ICT-solutions in the public sector.

Since 1998, SFTI is a joint initiative of three Swedish public sector bodies: the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Region, the Swedish National Financial Management Authority (ESV) and the National Agency for Public Procurement. SFTI aims to promote an eProcurement standard across the Swedish public sector by working together with public sector entities, suppliers and IT-providers. eInvoicing is an integral part of this to operate the eProcurement process fully.

SFTI implementation journey

SFTI initially started to facilitate the introduction of eProcurement, covering the full process from tendering to invoicing. In the work of SFTI, the use of common standards was one of the key pillars. Around the Millennium, SFTI was focused on the post-award processes, as was the norm then. Since then, SFTI has evolved to focus on the pre-award process.

Today, SFTI targets the public sector, suppliers of goods and services and the IT-providers offering. It focuses on strong public-private collaboration, by providing extensive support, training, guidelines, and handbooks to engage different stakeholders in a national context to adopt eProcurement.  Thus, similar to CEF, which offers eInvoicing services, the Swedish government focused on providing services and not solutions.

SFTI’s technical background

Early on there was an understanding in SFTI that the focus should be on Pan-European solutions rather than inventing national dialects. A collaboration began in 2006 to work on common specifications among fellow Nordic countries. Later, SFTI became one of the active members of CEN BII, and in the PEPPOL project too. SFTI fosters Pan-European solutions. It makes it easier for suppliers, both inside and outside of Sweden and simplifies the implementation procedure for service providers. Today, SFTI promotes cross-border eInvoicing based on PEPPOL.

What, according to Sweden, are the most significant eInvoicing benefits?

According to the Swedish public authorities, eInvoicing has enabled recycling of PEPPOL network and engagement with the fellow Member States and international bodies. SFTI supported the public sector in automating procurement processes while contributing to cost savings across public administrations, leading to higher overall automation across public administrations. Furthermore, SFTI supports public sector entities to move to electronic processes and thereby reduces paper waste. The European Commission anticipated that the adoption of the eInvoicing standard might generate secondary impacts, including but not limited to, specific positive economic, social, and environmental effects and Sweden’s SFTI confirm this. For example, eInvoicing is estimated to have environmental benefits in Sweden (see the study on environmental benefits from eInvoicing, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm).  

In numbers, today 63 per cent of all invoices to the Swedish central government are electronic, and approximately 50 per cent of all invoices to Swedish local authorities and regions are electronic. Despite the current high number, the Swedish government anticipates a 1.7 billion SEK (approx. 165,6 million EUR) savings for society when the national public sector eInvoicing law will enter into force on April 1st, 2019 and eInvoicing will become mandatory. This significant financial cost saving captures the impact of eInvoicing, even in already electronically advanced administrations such as Sweden.

eInvoicing on the local government level

From the outset, SFTI has been a success for local authorities and regions too. Today, eInvoicing is used by 87 per cent of municipalities and 95 per cent of the regions. They voluntarily made significant eInvoice implementation progress, starting when ESV began its eInvoicing and eProcurement journey in 2005, that had a significant positive impact on electronic procurement in Sweden.

“We could early on learn from the experiences of local and regional authorities. That collaboration is probably the single most important aspect of our progress in central government since we did not start from scratch. With the mandatory eInvoicing since 2008 in central government, even more suppliers started using eInvoicing, and this momentum, in turn, helped the municipalities and regions to implement eInvoicing.” Mr. Peter Norén, Head of the unit at ESV

Today, eInvoicing solutions used by the public sector in Sweden are also in use in the B2B context in Sweden. The initiative is based on open standards and has created an ecosystem of eInvoicing in Sweden. Furthermore, it created a market for eInvoicing solution offerings for SME’s and micro companies that did not exist beforehand.

Sweden’s collaboration with CEF

SFTI and ESV have been active participants in the CEF eInvoice standardisation projects such as PEPPOL and E-SENS. By contributing to a standardised EU eInvoice service, Sweden facilitated the delivery of a single digital market where public services can cross borders easier. The standardisation of electronic invoicing aims to promote and accelerate the use of eInvoicing in the EU standard across the public and private sector of all Member States, as well as in participating EEA countries. It is an integral part of procurement across borders, facilitating G2B and as well as B2B eInvoicing. A digitally connected Single Market means freedom, the freedom to buy and sell goods in your language and thereby opening new markets for businesses and citizens too.

What is next for Sweden?

After many years of successful voluntary SFTI standardisation, eProcurement and eInvoicing, the Swedish public sector started to enforce the mandatory rollout of Directive 2014/55/EU and aims to be compliant by April 2019.

Are you ready for eInvoicing in public procurement?  

Last updated on  May 20, 2021 12:00
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