Procurement messages speed up the automation of business processes and make them more efficient

Procurement messages contain business transaction information in a structured and machine-processable format. Procurement messages are used by organisations to share information in order and delivery processes, and they concern product catalogues, orders, order confirmations and deliveries. Procurement messages used in the Peppol network are practical examples of standardised messages.

Companies have traditionally used procurement messages in industry-specific and company-specific solutions. For example, groceries conglomerates use procurement messages in information exchanges with their suppliers.

One aim of the Real-Time Economy project is to introduce standardised procurement messages in state procurement. The aim is also to create a solution that is as open as possible and that companies of different sizes can use in their mutual business relationships in all sectors. The project will create the basis for using product catalogue, order, order confirmation and shipping notifications specified by the Peppol network.

Digitalisation of procurement messages is essential if Finnish companies are to compete successfully with other Nordic and European actors. Digitalisation is a key component in the implementation of the EU-wide single market. It is of critical national importance for Finland that Finnish companies of all sizes can offer their services and products across the single market as flexibly and cost-effectively as possible.

You can follow the progress of the procurement message work in the webinar series “Sähköistä hankintasi!”(Digitalise your procurement process!).
The webinar series Digitalise your procurement process! is part of the Real-Time Economy project, and its purpose is to promote digitalisation of procurement in Finland. In the webinars, which are open to everyone, participants are also able to influence the contents of the development work. You are warmly welcome! If you want your contact information on the Digitalise your procurement process! webinar series mailing list, send a request to
View part 3 of the Digitalise your procurement! webinar (in Finnish)

The state will introduce Peppol-format order and order confirmation messages from 1 April 2024 and will also require Peppol business documents from their suppliers

The state procurement will serve as a pioneer demonstrating the benefits of standardised procurement messages. The aim is to create an open solution that companies can use in their mutual business relationships, irrespective of their size and sector.

The State Treasury is Finland’s Peppol authority.

On the authority’s website, you can read more about, among other things, the tasks of the authority, the benefits of Peppol,  joining the Peppol network and becoming a Peppol service provider.
Peppol authority website

  • Peppol in a nutshell

    The Peppol network is intended for the transmission of electronic business documents

    Peppol is a network open to all, through which different actors can transmit electronic business documents to each other in a standardised, industry-independent way. Electronic business documents include catalogues, orders and order confirmations. The Peppol network is joined through Peppol service providers. The majority of Finland’s most important trade partner countries promote the use of Peppol in their region.

    Originally, Peppol (Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line) was the name of an EU-funded project between 2008 and 2012. After the end of the project, the participants set up the OpenPeppol association to manage the project results.

    Peppol’s parties are:

    • National Peppol authorities
    • Peppol service providers, i.e., network service providers and
    • End users, such as companies and public organisations

    Characteristics of the Peppol network

    The Peppol network defines the following items:

    • Administrative model
    • Agreements binding the parties
    • Procedures
    • Business processes and documents supported by the Peppol network
    • Technical implementation of the network
    • Address directory

    The image below illustrates the basic structure of the Peppol infrastructure and its key players:

    An overview of the PEPPOL eDelivery Network .

    Access Point: the role of the service provider that connects end users to the infrastructure so that they can share documents.
    SML (Service Metadata Locator): a central address directory of the infrastructure containing information on whether a requested address is registered in the Peppol network and which decentralised SMP contains details for that end user.
    SMP (Service Metadata Provider) is now called ACL (Address and Capability lookup): a distributed directory containing the capabilities of the end user, i.e., the messages the end user can process, as well as information about the physical communication connection

  • Peppol process and data models in a nutshell

    About Peppol’s process models in general

    Peppol process models (BIS=Business Interoperability Specification) are based on the decisions made by CEN (European Committee for Standardization) working groups Standard messages based on the UBL 2.1 and UBL 2.2 message specifications are used as the data model in the Peppol processes, and the Peppol messages are a subset of the data model of the corresponding UBL messages. Peppol has also specified business and other rules related to the messages and processes. To validate these rules, Schematron validation specifications have been prepared for the messages.

    Peppol divides the processes into two main sets (pre-award and post-award specifications). Pre-award specifications are applied to information exchanges taking place during the pre-contract tendering stage, whereas post-award specifications are applied to the sharing of information during the order-to-invoice stage.  The same UBL-based messages are often used in different business processes and partially in both pre-award and post-award phases.

    The process specification contained in the messages indicates the context in which the message is used in each individual situation. For example, the UBL message product catalogue is used in both pre-award and post-award phases. In the pre-award phase, the product catalogue is used to present the product information contained in the tender so that the customer can compare the tenders. The product catalogue used in the post-award phase is usually more comprehensive than the one used in the pre-award phase, and the information is used to facilitate ordering.

    A uniform data model is a prerequisite for the consistent use of multiple datasets and code sets in different messages and processes. Examples of such applications include message routing addresses, information of the participants, and measurement units. Considerable progress has been achieved in the standardisation of these datasets as a result of the e-invoice standardisation carried out in the EU.

    Process models

    The purpose of the process models is to describe concrete use cases. Not all processes are obligatory, or even necessary for all actors. There may also be sector-specific and national differences in the application of the processes, even though the basic processes themselves are uniform. For example, procurement by Finnish government agencies is regulated and steered by legislation on public contracts and the State Budget Decree. This means that there are a number of special requirements concerning the order process that do not apply to all organisations.

    Pre-award process models and the messages used in them

    Prosessi Aliprosessit Käytettävä UBL-sanoma
    ”Procurement procedure subscription” 1.0 Subscribe to Procedure 1.0 Expression Of Interest Request
    Subscribe to Procedure Confirmation 1.0 Expression Of Interest Response
    ”Procurement document access” 1.0 Tender Status Inquiry 1.0 Tender Status Request
    Call for Tenders 1.0 Call for Tenders
    ”Tender Submission” 1.0 Tender 1.0 Tender
    Tender Reception Notification 1.0 Tender Receipt
    ”Call for Tenders Questions and Answers” 1.0 Tendering Questions 1.0 Tendering Questions
    Tendering Answers 1.0 Tendering Answers
    ”Tender Clarification” 1.0 Tender Clarification Request 1.0 Tender Clarification Request
    Tender Clarification 1.0 Tender Clarification

    Peppol’s pre-award content also includes data models, XML schemas and validation programs developed by the EU’s DG GROW, such as the ESPD (European Single Procurement Document) in the area of ​​public procurement. ESPD comprises the transmission of two documents: ESPDRequest and ESPDResponse. ESPDRequest contains preliminary requirements for the tenderer in public contracts, and ESPDResponse contains the tenderer’s response to these requirements.

    Business interoperability specifications

    A range of different business interoperability specifications have been drawn up for the process ‘from order to invoicing’.

    Business interoperability specification Messages used in the process
    Order only 3.3 Order
    Ordering 3.3) Order, Order Response
    Catalogue with Response 3.1 Catalogue,  Catalogue Response
    Catalogue without Response 3.1 Catalogue
    Despatch Advice 3.1 Despatch Advice
    Punch Out 3.1 Punch Out
    Order Agreement 3.0 Order Agreement
    Message Level Response 3.0 Message level response
    Invoice Response 3.2 Invoice Response
    Billing 3.0 (Europe) Invoice, Credit Note
    Advanced Ordering 3.0 Order, Order Response Advanced,  Order Change,  Order Cancellation

    Table: Different organisations have different information exchange needs. Organisations can choose which business interoperability specifications and procurement messages are supported in their own information systems.

    Post-award process models and the messages used in themPeppol post-award process models and messages also include an invoice message, which is not discussed in more detail in this context. The Peppol invoice message is based on a similar UBL message and it is content-compatible with the EU e-invoice standard (which has been standardised by CEN).

    The general Message Level Response 3.0 notification and the Invoice Response 3.0 notification have also been implemented in the post-award specifications. Both notification messages are based on the UBL ApplicationResponse 2.1 message.

    Observations on post-award models

    Peppol has implemented a subset of the UBL expression power in its processes. For example, OrderCancel and OrderChange are not included in the models. Similarly, Peppol models do not include ReceiptAdvice. In some countries, such as Norway, non-Peppol messages and processes are included in the national EHF implementation. Peppol Authorities can also suggest necessary extensions to process and data models.

    It can be said that Peppol has implemented the basic processes and data models of the procurement process. The specifications are a subset of the full expression power of the UBL data models but are likely to provide an adequate general basis that meets most of the organisations’ needs. All specifications are subject to technical and business rules and their validation tools. It facilitates the quality assurance of the transmitted data, which is necessary in automated processing.

    The general business and technical validation rules included in the models are an undeniable advantage of Peppol process and data models compared to the traditional EDIFACT integrations. Common validation rules harmonise the application process and facilitate the implementation of well-functioning services.

    Overall, Peppol brings the same benefits as standardisation in general. Standardisation enhances understanding of the concepts and terms of the parties involved and provides a solid basis for system and software development.

  • Development of Peppol infrastructure, processes and data models

    Continuous development is a sign of dynamic operations in the active stage of their life cycle. The same applies to the development of Peppol infrastructure, processes and data models.

    Peppol – projects in progress 

    A new phase has begun in Peppol development. A completely new logistics complex is being planned, initially including: 

    • BIS for Despatch Advice Advanced 
    • BIS for Weight Statement 
    • BIS for Transport Execution Plan 
    • BIS for Transportation Status 
    • BIS for Waybill 
    • (BIS = Business Interoperability Specification, which defines the flow of the process. BIS specifications contain one or more documents) 

    We established a Finnish mirror group for the project and hope for as many participants as possible from parties with experience in working with logistics processes to join it.
    The development work will continue at least through 2023 

    Other active development targets include 

    • Peppol international invoice (PINT).  
    • The Continuous transaction control (CTC) project for transaction-based VAT reporting 
    • In addition, Peppol actively updates and makes corrections to existing messages 

    Completed development items include:  

    • Peppol’s extended order process:
      • In 2022 we participated in and influenced the development of Peppol’s extended order process 
      • Development work was done together with businesses and communities in an open mirror group 
    • The data transfer protocol used in Peppol messaging has been updated from the AS2 protocol to AS4, enabling safer data transfer than before and serving as a step toward WebServices in B2B connections 

    Peppol development organisation

    The results of the development work of Peppol projects are always submitted to the member community for review and comments before final approval and publication. 

    As Finland’s Peppol authority, the State Treasury is responsible for the use of Peppol and community coordination in Finland, and offers Finland the opportunity to participate in and influence the development of the international Peppol network and message traffic. Development work is carried out openly and closely with stakeholders.  

    If you recognise the need to update existing Peppol messages or to launch a new international Peppol project or want to participate in ongoing project groups, you can contact the State Treasury’s Peppol authority: 

    The Peppol authority also organises a follow-up group open to everyone, where current information related to Peppol is reviewed.  The monitoring group also informs about new and ongoing projects. Sign up as a member of the monitoring group: 

, Updated 8.9.2023 at 13:20