Connext E‑Invoice | The solution for electro­nic invoices

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Formware’s Connext E‑Invoice provi­des you with a compre­hen­sive, cloud-based service for electro­nic billing proces­ses in the areas compri­sing B2B, B2C and B2G. PDF and XML data can be proces­sed in standar­di­zed invoice formats such as XRech­nung, ZUGFeRD and EDI, and then trans­mit­ted comple­tely automa­ti­cally in electro­nic form. Connext E‑Invoice here guaran­tees secure trans­mis­sion in accordance with ISO 27001:2013 and an associa­ted data protec­tion concept. Time savings, stream­li­ned workflow and reduc­tion in manual input errors are the positive consequences.

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XRech­nung is a pure XML data format for the exchange of electro­nic invoices. Formware converts your input data into this standard which has been manda­tory for invoices to German federal autho­ri­ties since 2020.

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ZUGFeRD, a hybrid data format for electro­nic invoices, conta­ins identi­cal data in a PDF file as well as an embedded XML file. The combi­na­tion of visual and data compon­ents makes ZUGFeRD suita­ble for use in the areas compri­sing B2G, B2B and B2C.

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EDI is the struc­tu­red exchange of electro­nic data between business partners who must first agree on a common indus­try standard. Well-known message formats include SWIFT (finan­cial sector) and UN/EDIFACT.

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As of 27.11.2020, invoices to German federal autho­ri­ties must be submit­ted in XRech­nung format.

XRech­nung: Effici­ent assign­ment and readout of net data

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XRech­nung as an estab­lished standard

XRech­nung is conside­red to be the most estab­lished form of electro­nic invoice, and has become even more relevant with the e‑invoice ordinance dated 27th Novem­ber 2020. This ordinance stipu­la­tes that invoices to German federal autho­ri­ties must be submit­ted only in this data format or an equiva­lent one, such as ZUGFeRD.

Excep­ti­ons are invoices from direct orders worth up to 1,000 euros (net), as well as invoices from defence- and security-related orders or certain affairs of the foreign service.

Conver­sion into XRech­nung also proves suita­ble if you regularly submit invoices to the public adminis­tra­ti­ons of the federal states or munici­pa­li­ties. As of 18th April 2020, munici­pal insti­tu­ti­ons must be able to receive and process this format.

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Consti­tu­ents of XRechnung

For invoi­cing in XRech­nung format, certain manda­tory requi­re­ments of the e‑invoice ordinance must be taken into account, as illus­tra­ted next.

With its e‑invoice service, Formware takes over the entire process invol­ving your XRech­nung: Mapping of the requi­red data fields accor­ding to the XRech­nung format, conver­sion of your data into this format, as well as subse­quent trans­mis­sion via a secure network, such as PEPPOL.

Invoices must contain the follo­wing information:

  • Invoice consti­tu­ents related to sales tax
  • Routing identi­fi­ca­tion number
  • Bank details
  • Payment terms
  • DE-mail / e‑mail (of the invoi­cing party)


Manda­tory, if known:

  • Order ID
  • Supplier ID

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ZUGFeRD: A hybrid data format for B2B, B2G and B2C

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Central user guide of the German forum on electro­nic invoicing …

… also abbre­via­ted ZUGFeRD, is a cross-sector data format for electro­nic invoice dispatch. Develo­ped by the German forum for electro­nic invoi­cing (FeRD), it fulfils, among other things, the speci­fic requi­re­ments of XRech­nung apply­ing, for example, to public adminis­tra­tion in Germany.

Especi­ally notewor­thy here is the simul­ta­neous provi­sion of PDF and XML files identi­cal in terms of content. This enables use for end custo­mers as well as business custo­mers and the munici­pal sector. PDF data are trans­mit­ted and recei­ved in the foreground, while the invoice data are proces­sed further in the “invisi­ble” background via the respec­tive establishment’s proprie­tary software system. Connext E‑Invoice here ensures trouble-free assign­ment of data and provi­des you with all the latest ZUGFeRD profiles.

EDI: Effici­ent data exchange between business partners

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Data exchange with EDI

EDI (electro­nic data inter­ch­ange) stands for the electro­nic exchange of business documents such as orders, delivery notes and invoices. This data trans­fer takes place without manual inter­ven­tion, and is based on struc­tu­ral schemes known as EDI standards. These are defined by global organiza­ti­ons such as the UN or DIN. The United Nations’ UN/EDIFACT is the most commonly used format here. Depen­ding on the indus­try, there are also a number of “dialects”, or subsets, inclu­ding SWIFT for the finan­cial sector and VDA for the German automo­tive industry.

Connext E‑Invoice speaks all these languages and dialects, allowing you to effici­ently exchange data accor­ding to your requirements.

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Connext EDI conver­ter and Connext EDI commu­ni­ca­tion interface

Connext EDI converter

Data output by your ERP system are conver­ted by the Connext EDI conver­ter into EDI messa­ges accor­ding to an EDI standard defined in advance by the business partners. These trans­la­ted messa­ges (data) form the basis for smooth and automa­ted commu­ni­ca­tion between the trans­mit­ting and recei­ving systems. A proce­dure known as mapping ensures indivi­dual assign­ments of the data read out, and is also part of the Connext E‑Invoice service.

Connext EDI commu­ni­ca­tion interface

The Connext EDI commu­ni­ca­tion inter­face estab­lishes a connec­tion between the trans­mit­ter and recei­ver, and securely trans­mits previously conver­ted messa­ges to the business partner. By default, Connext E‑Invoice relies on point-to-point connec­tions which are suita­ble for trans­fer­ring large amounts of data, and require long-term acces­si­bi­lity of the trans­mit­ting and recei­ving systems. Supported trans­fer proto­cols include HTTPs, (s)FTP and AS4.

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An overview of the key functions of Connext E‑Invoice

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A cloud-based solution for electro­nic invoices in accordance with globally recogni­zed standards.
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Legally compli­ant archi­ving and standar­di­zed data security accor­ding to ISO 27001:2013.
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Complete solution: Formware takes over mapping, conver­sion, dispatch, proces­sing and validation.
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Indus­try-indepen­dent and targe­ted areas of appli­ca­tion (B2B/B2C/B2G).
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Secure connec­tion of partner systems and networks (ZRE, OZG-RE, PEPPOL)
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Time savings and error reduc­tion thanks to automa­ted data exchange without manual input

Trans­mis­sion proto­cols: Dispatch of XRech­nung via e mail and PEPPOL

In general, there are two ways of submit­ting XRech­nung files: Via e‑mail or a secure network. PEPPOL is such a network, and is used by federal autho­ri­ties, munici­pa­li­ties and public clients. Because the advan­ta­ges of secure trans­mis­sion predo­mi­nate in a direct compa­ri­son with e‑mail, Connext E‑Invoice offers PEPPOL by default.

Trans­mis­sion proto­cols: Secure trans­fer of XRech­nung via the PEPPOL network

PEPPOL stands for “Pan-European Public Procu­re­ment OnLine”, and refers to a secure network for the exchange of electro­nic data between parti­ci­pa­ting count­ries. In Europe, these currently include Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, Austria, Portu­gal and Sweden; inter­na­tio­nal parti­ci­pants include Austra­lia, New Zealand, Singa­pore, USA and Canada.

Invoi­cers need an access point. You can apply for and imple­ment it yours­elf, or you can use a certi­fied service provi­der like us: With Connext E‑Invoice, Formware offers one of about 200 certi­fied PEPPOL access points and enables you to securely trans­fer electro­nic documents as well as XRech­nung files in the areas compri­sing B2B and B2G. If you opt for Formware’s Connext E‑Invoice, bounce manage­ment and dispatch logging are also included in the service spectrum.

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EDI trans­mis­sion protocols

In addition to well-known trans­mis­sion channels such as e‑mail and FTP, there are numerous natio­nal, product- or indus­try-speci­fic trans­mis­sion channels for commu­ni­ca­tion in the EDI environment.

Common trans­mis­sion proto­cols for EDI messages:

Value-added network:
(VAN) Atlas, AT&T, EXITE, IBM, KPN, OpenText GXS, Telebox X.400, Tradanet

Direct connec­tion:
OFTP(2), AS2, AS4, FTP(S), SFTP, http(S)

Frequently asked questi­ons about XRech­nung, Connext e invoice and ZUGFeRD

Yes. Indus­try-standard software soluti­ons (such as SAP, Micro­soft Dynamics, Oracle E- Business Suite or NetSuite) are compa­ti­ble with Connext e‑invoice, and mapping serves to assign invoice data appro­pria­tely, thus elimi­na­ting the need for manual transfer.

The routing ID as well as details about the recei­ving channel (e‑mail ZRE, OZG-RE, …) are obtai­ned directly from the invoice recipient.

The remai­ning data are the same as those of a normal invoice, and are usually already known to you. Formware helps you trans­late the data, in terms of purely techni­cal assign­ments as well as format.

Once Connext E‑Invoice is connec­ted, it works immedia­tely. Before­hand, we perform mapping by assig­ning your data records to XRech­nung data fields.

No. In the interests of data security, no “reference book” of parti­ci­pa­ting compa­nies is published. There is a list of all certi­fied access points, inclu­ding Formware’s, but no list of subscrib­ing customers.

This decis­ion depends on your annual volume of invoices to federal autho­ri­ties and munici­pa­li­ties. Develo­p­ment costs as well as regular fees of member­ship in OpenPEP­POL are incur­red for setting up one’s own access point. Connec­tion via a PEPPOL service provi­der is there­fore recom­men­ded in the case of low invoice volumes.

Webinar recor­dings on e‑invoicing

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Integra­tion of XRech­nung in existent ERP systems, as exempli­fied by the kVASy ERP software suite of Cottbus munici­pal utilities

Together with Wolfgang Will from the Cottbus munici­pal utili­ties, we explain in this 30-minute webinar (+ question round) how XRech­nung can be integra­ted into existing software soluti­ons, and disco­ver from a user’s point of view why imple­men­ta­tion is worthwhile.

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What are the advan­ta­ges of dispatching XRech­nung and ZUGFeRD documents via PEPPOL?

Chris­tian Schmidt is a product manager at Formware and an expert on PEPPOL. Together with managing direc­tor Thomas Stampf, he explains in just under 45 minutes the factual advan­ta­ges of sending data and invoices via secure networks, PEPPOL in particular.