Connext E‑Invoice | The solution for electronic invoices
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.
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.
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.
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.
As of 27.11.2020, invoices to German federal authorities must be submitted in XRechnung format.
XRechnung: Efficient assignment and readout of net data
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 2.1.1 in the EN16931 profile.
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.
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
ZUGFeRD: A hybrid data format for B2B, B2G and B2C
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), its version 2.1.1 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
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.
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.
An overview of the key functions of Connext E‑Invoice
A cloud-based solution for electronic invoices in accordance with globally recognized standards.
Legally compliant archiving and standardized data security according to ISO 27001:2013.
Complete solution: Formware takes over mapping, conversion, dispatch, processing and validation.
Industry-independent and targeted areas of application (B2B/B2C/B2G).
Secure connection of partner systems and networks (ZRE, OZG-RE, PEPPOL)
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.
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:
(VAN) Atlas, AT&T, EXITE, IBM, KPN, OpenText GXS, Telebox X.400, Tradanet
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
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.
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.