The emerging procurement standard in the UK public sector

  • 27 Feb 2017
  • Technology & Innovation
The emerging procurement standard in the UK public sector Image

What is PEPPOL and how does it work?

The term PEPPOL (also known as the PEPPOL network) is becoming a more popular topic in the public sector procurement industry, but what does it actually mean? PEPPOL stands for ‘Pan-European Public Procurement On-line’, co-founded by the European Public Commission and government bodies, it’s essentially an electronic data interchange with standard procurement messaging templates available within a communications infrastructure.

PEPPOL offers automated information exchange across the supply chain for the public sector. Combined with the GS1 barcoding public sector standards, PEPPOL is leading procurement practice change with automated processes minimizing risks and costs within public sector companies through standardized messaging integration in the purchase to pay area such as purchase orders (POs), invoices, credit notes and advanced shipping notices.

To be part of the PEPPOL network organizations and businesses need to be a ‘certified access point provider’. Any access point provider can engage with any other provider of their choice within the network, allowing them to receive and send information within the network. In a nutshell, PEPPOL is about opening up a pan-European public sector procurement marketplace through a single collaborative and standardized platform.

The benefits of PEPPOL

Many organizations in the public sector still rely on manual purchase-to-pay procedures. PEPPOL brings to the table a standard and a fully automated process, helping to minimize potential errors, speeding up purchasing procedures and reducing costs. For public sector organizations PEPPOL promises better efficiency, supply chain visibility and traceability. For the supply chain, PEPPOL should provide a great commercial opportunity, providing an easy and efficient way to access every public company within the UK and across Europe.

Becoming PEPPOL certified

To become a PEPPOL certified access point provider any organisation or business needs to follow a complex formal process and pass a third party test. Additionally, any applicant has to register with a local and global PEPPOL authority in order to be accredited the PEPPOL certification. To find out more please click here.

Who’s using PEPPOL now in the UK?

In 2014, the UK Department of Health (DH) published the NHS eProcurement Strategy Policy. The Policy involved the adoption of common global procurement standards by NHS providers and their suppliers. The DH selected six NHS Trusts as ‘demonstrators’ of excellence by using GS1 and PEPPOL standards as part of the Scan4Safety project. These are:

  • Derby Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
  • Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust
  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust

Collectively the Trusts received £12 million to support the work and started the implementation in January 2016. Currently each Trust is at a different stage of the project, but all are working to implement the three core enablers required by the DH, which are:

  • GLN – Global Location Numbers for the identification of unique locations.
  • GTIN – Global Trade Identification Numbers to improve catalogue management.
  • GS1 barcoding standards – for identification of patients and an efficient way to update and retrieve patient data.

What are the results to date, and what will the future bring?

So far the six demonstrators have identified a few early benefits, including a £700,000 savings spread across stock reduction, decreases in wastage and non-clinical pay efficiencies.

The trusts are expected to document the advantages gained and the challenges they’ve experienced to date, in order to improve the roll out process for other NHS Trusts and public bodies in the UK. Click here to find out how they are doing and what’s in store for them in the future.

There’s promise that the opportunity provided by the adoption of PEPPOL and GS1 standards should enable the public sector to improve services, become more efficient and, ultimately, save more money.

Wax Digital in now a proud PEPPOL member helping our public sector clients to electronically communicate with and access the goods and services from any European suppliers with the PEPPOL network.

If you would like to discuss PEPPOL and what it means to you, please get in touch.

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