Electronic invoicing in the Flemish Government: case study

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Electronic invoicing in the Flemish Government: case study
As part of a research programme entitled "Een digitale Vlaamse overheid" (A digital Flemish Government), university researchers have been examining electronic invoicing within the Flemish Government.

The report, published in May 2019 by Joep Crompvoets and Stijn Wouters, provides a coherent and exhaustive analysis of the problems of electronic invoicing within the public administrations.

Although it approaches the subject from the point of view of public governance, the report covers more broadly the strategic, legal, organisational, informational, technological and financial aspects of the issue.

Here are 5 key takeaways identified by the authors of this report, members of the consortium Steunpunt Bestuurlijke Vernieuwing (SBV).

1. E-invoicing is based on a whole ecosystem of applications and standards

As a reminder, electronic invoicing consists of establishing, sending, modifying and paying electronically invoicing documents between business partners.
The authors remind the reader that to be able to apply it, a true ecosystem of building blocks is necessary. This ecosystem includes not only common IT applications to manage data exchange, payment orders or file transformation, but also semantic, syntactic and technical standards.

2. B2G paves the way for B2B

The introduction of electronic invoicing within administrations paves the way for the generalisation of electronic invoicing between companies. Indeed, all the feedback and conclusions of the implementation of electronic invoicing in B2G can be applied in a B2B context.

This conclusion is fully in line with Europe's intentions as expressed in Directive 2014/55.

3. E-invoicing is an example of successful collaboration between the federal and Flemish authorities.

The authors of the report underline the pragmatic and holistic approach taken by the authorities in setting up a system of electronic invoicing from business to government.

4. The development of e-invoicing takes place in a complex environment.

The digitisation of public service takes place in a complex environment, interacting with several entities and elements. In particular, it must take into account :

  • the institutional context (administrative, legislative and political);
  • the existing building blocks (IT solutions and standards);
  • other public services;
  • good governance of public services from the point of view of services to citizens;
  • existing technologies and their evolution;
  • the evolution of user expectations and preferences;
  • interoperability;
  • the time needed to install and implement electronic services.

5. Good coordination: a critical success factor

Among the critical factors for the successful implementation of e-invoicing, the authors highlight the essential role of key players who play a coordinating role and establish a climate of trust and a shared vision.

Want to know more? Read the full report (in Dutch).

 

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