How did the NHS e-Procurement Strategy come about?

National Health Service (NHS) trusts and their providers are now fully engaged in the process of adapting to the e-Procurement Strategy, the initiative that aims to make all processes related to procurement in the health sector electronic. This ambitious project was announced in 2014 and its execution may foreseeably extend beyond 2018.

The e-Procurement Strategy came about after a series of breakthroughs by the British Department of Health (DoH), which promoted use of the technology in the sector. In fact, 7 years before launching the strategy, the Coding for Success report was published, where the DoH already encouraged the use of GS1 standards for identification of patient background records and product files.

However, the e-procurement strategy’s main predecessor is the text Better Procurement, Better Value, Better Care. In this document, the DoH explicitly committed to undertake a digitization strategy for the NHS procurement system. In addition, it noted that this technological leap would necessarily be linked to the use of international standards (PEPPOL and GDSN) to make interoperability possible.

In any case, these prior documents to the grand NHS project are based on tried and tested experiences worldwide, both in the healthcare field and retail or banking. This is one of the points most emphasised by the DoH when defending the strategy. All the measures proposed have already been carried out in other countries or sectors, with positive results.

Despite these precedents, the e-Procurement Strategy technology project is still one of the most ambitious and far-reaching in terms of modernization of supply chain management, affecting a large industrial sector in its entirety. This is because it is the first time that all these tried and tested initiatives have been brought together under a single strategy, destined to completely change the commercial, logistical and administrative management of the British public health service.


Would you like to know more?

The EDICOM team has drafted a White Paper on the NHS e-Procurement Strategy, which you can download here free of charge. It covers the main aspects of this initiative, ranging from the measures being taken to how healthcare suppliers can handle the adaptation.

In addition, on September 28 healthcare sector specialists from EDICOM will be taking part in Procurement In Healthcare (PIH), the benchmark event for the sector which takes place on London. Booking for the event is now open, by registration on the website.

Seaborne exporters must check the weight of containers from July 1


“The SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirement” document drafted by the World Shipping Council includes the weight checking requirements for export containers.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) approved amendments to the SOLAS convention on Safety of Life at Sea, including the mandatory requirement to check the weight of each container to be exported before loading it onto their vessel.

This is a legally binding requirement in force as of July 2016, affecting all parties involved in international container transport in the European Union, including carriers, loaders, parcel companies and shipping lines.

This new requirement calls for all parties affected to adopt measures to check the gross container mass with the weight of the full container, or from the weight of all packages and cargo items. Either way, they must accredit the use of a certified method validated by the competent authority of the country in which the cargo stowage was completed.

Notification of this new requirement may be done using the “VERMAS” (Verified Gross Mass) message, whose guide is available for issuing in EDIFACT and XML format.

At EDICOM we can help you integrate this new data schema for declaring the gross mass of export containers electronically.

Contact your sales consultant for more information on this new requirement.

We will be glad to take care of you.

5 myths about e-invoicing that you shouldn’t believe

Very soon, Colombian companies will be faced with a process of technological change. With the e-invoicing pilot project now up and running, the DIAN plans to extend this mandatory system among the majority of taxpayers, as occurred in other countries such as Mexico, Brazil or Chile.

However, as it stands today the uptake rates for e-invoicing in Colombia are still low, giving rise to uncertainties among companies. So, for this post we decided to debunk the 5 most common myths and false beliefs about this system:

  1. e-Invoicing is very costly

Companies reluctant to implement this technology due to the economic costs it might entail are totally mistaken. The tax authorities usually provide solutions free of charge for those taxpayers who only generate invoices occasionally. In most other cases, when the billing volume is higher, it is necessary to adopt a technological solution that automates the process. Nevertheless, this is an investment which is quickly recuperated. This is because with electronic invoices, savings can reach up to 90% compared to the traditional process on paper.

  1. e-Invoicing is only suitable for big companies

The system’s benefits can be appreciated at any level, both in large and small companies. And in addition to the lower economic costs, the taxpayers can manage their affairs more efficiently. The important thing is to choose the right solution for each type of business.

  1. An e-invoice is not as valid as a bill on paper

Some taxpayers do not trust electronic invoices. However, it is necessary to reiterate that they enjoy exactly the same legal and fiscal validity as documents on paper. This is acknowledged by the regulations governing the system.

  1. e-Invoicing is not secure

On the contrary, e-invoicing is safer than paper billing. We must bear in mind that this technology includes mechanisms such as e-signature or timestamping that ensure document integrity and validity. We should also add that the automation process minimizes the possibility of errors.

  1. e-Invoicing is only suitable for experts

You don’t need to be an IT whiz kid to use the system. In fact, the EDICOM electronic invoicing platform is integrated with the company’s usual ERP management system. This way, Administration department employees do not have to make changes in their work processes, as they continue to work in an environment they are already familiar with. The only difference is that a good many of the tasks are automated, which boosts productivity.

e-Invoicing figures to reach 30 billion by 2016

International e-invoicing consultant Billentis has just published its annual market analysis report on e-billing, this year under the title E-Invoicing / E-Billing. Digitization & Automation. The study, drawn up by Bruno Koch in collaboration with EDICOM as sponsor and one of the leading experts in developing these data transfer systems, forecasts around 30 billion e-invoicing transfers worldwide over the course of the year. This means a growth rate of 10 to 20% compared to 2015.

One of the areas expected to show the widest spread in use of this electronic system is the European Union. As of 2018, a directive requires that all Member States must be prepared to use e-invoicing in public procurement processes. In recent years, several states have already taken up their position on the issue. Countries such as Spain, Portugal and Italy have already laid down the obligatory nature of this system in the B2G area, while others, such as France, are planning to do so soon.

The Billentis report estimates figures of roughly 5 billion e-invoices exchanged with the public sector and between companies in Europe. In the B2C segment, the figure will be around 3 billion. In any case, these numbers are far removed from those for Latin America, the world’s most advanced region in the spread of e-invoicing. Figures there are set to reach around 8 billion B2B2G e-invoices and some 3 billion for final consumers.

In 2016, Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Peru continue to move towards massive widespread use of this system. Meanwhile, others like Brazil or Mexico, where use is now generalized and fully up and running, are rolling out new paperless initiatives for tax compliance.

The United States presents a different scenario. As we can see from the study on E-Invoicing / E-Billing. Digitization & Automation, this is the only area of the world where use of this technology is more firmly established in the B2C sphere than in B2B2G. In fact, forecasts for 2016 point to around 4 billion e-invoices being issued to consumers, whereas between companies and the public sector the figure is a mere 3 billion. Nevertheless, the segment is showing some growth compared to previous years.

Finally, the report refers to Africa and the Asia-Pacific region as the places with least implementation of this technology. In these regions, the number of e-invoices issued throughout the year will be roughly 4 billion, in similar proportions for those addressed to consumers and to businesses or government.


Download the report

EDICOM is one of the contributors to the Billentis study, as a point of reference worldwide for e-invoicing solutions and EDI. In fact, in 2015, over 250 million e-invoices were exchanged through the EDICOM platform alone.

To find out more about this technology and its expansion worldwide, you can download the free report on “E-Invoicing / E-Billing. Digitization & Automation”.

EDI ACADEMY – Value Added Networks (VANs)

In the second issue of EDI Academy, we explained that one of the key elements when setting up an EDI relationship is the communications system. There are currently several options available for transferring information, but the most widely used of all are designated value-added networks, also known as VANs by their initials.

What are VANs?

VANs are secure data exchange networks between companies. Unlike other alternatives, their use is not linked with Internet, as they came about at the same time as EDI emerged, when this technology was not yet widespread in society.  Nevertheless, they continue to be the option most widely used by companies. This is because many operators, like EDICOM, provide value added services such as back-office integration, the possibility of subcontracting communications management (EDI Outsourcing), safekeeping, etc.

The way value-added networks operate is very simple. Trading partners can send and receive documents from their platform just as they would an email. However, the entire process is carried out under stringent security conditions to ensure the integrity and inviolability of the data. The network constantly checks the partner identity and validity of the message.

Another significant advantage is that the partners involved receive notifications whenever they have a new document, when the one they have sent is delivered and when it reaches the recipient. Bear in mind that with this communications system traceability is assured, with tracking throughout the process.


Today, EDICOMNet is one of the most powerful VANs in the world. Each year, the network handles around 300 million transactions, from more than 12,000 trading partners worldwide. This is because it is a multi-protocol and multi-standard VAN, which lets you exchange any document regardless of the format it is in or the partner features. In addition, there are other added benefits:

  • Global interoperability. EDICOM has interconnection agreements with the principal VANs worldwide (IBM, GXS, LIAISON, etc.) to ensure interconnection of all users with any trading partner.
  • Cutting economic costs. EDICOMNet has a flat-rate model for users connected to the
  • Thanks to automation, grouping of processes and data compression, transmission of documents takes place immediately.
  • Prioritizing messages. VAN users have the option of setting up delivery or sending preferences depending on the type of transaction.
  • High Availability. The service is available 24 hours a day. In addition, EDICOM is committed to complying with 99.9% availability of its services in a signed SLA.

Want to know more about EDI? Check out all the posts in our  EDI Academy series. In the next instalment, we take an in-depth look at the importance of interoperability.