E-procurement in Sweden based on ebXML Messaging

The following information was kindly provided by Martin Forsberg:

Many Swedish local authorities, county councils and government authorities have started with e-procurement. The Single Face To Industry (SFTI) is a joint effort, with representation from all three levels, on marketing and awareness activities related to electronic procurement, on development of common specifications, on encouragement of systems development and implementation, and on support to interoperability.

eProcurement for the public sector has the potential to make substantial savings. However, at the same time, companies cannot be expected to implement different solutions for different buyers. It was realised at an early stage that a common standard would facilitate things for all parties: buyers, suppliers and IT solution providers. The local, regional and national government, under the leadership of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities (SKL) and Swedish National Finance Management Authority (ESV), runs the SFTI project, which includes several important features:

  • The development of standard business processes, messages and data for different scenarios.
  • The development of standard is in accordance to international standardisation activities and the organisation for development of standards includes representation from both public and private sector/suppliers and ITproviders.
  • A programme of awareness rising with conferences, seminars, news bulletins etc. targeting local authorities, regions,government agencies, professional and other statutory bodies etc. to ensure the dissemination the results of the project.
  • A programme of seminars presenting good practice on, for example, how to move into eProcurement, management requirements etc.
  • Seminars for suppliers, some of whom could implement the standard in in-house provided software.
  • Activities involving the European Commission to disseminate the project and encourage replication of the model in other EU countries.

An English language overview of SFTI is available at: http://www.sfti.se/english/english.html.

The most common SFTI standard being used today is the SwedInvoice. A simple XML-invoice based on OASIS UBL (Universal Business Langauge). An overview of the technical specifications are available at the site of SFTI Svefaktura (SwedInvoice)

SFTI recommendeds that business documents are exchanged by the use of a profile of ebXML Messaging 2.0 (ebMS). This transport profile is a specification for the simple communication of electronic documents between two business parties including any third parties they may use for value-added communication services. The profile Bas of ebMS is defined for the transfer of messages containing one or more business documents and with one acknowledgement of receipt per message in return.

SFTI has organized interoperability testing of the profile with several ebMS implementations.

Today, almost all governmental authorities in Sweden are using ebMS for all their electronic invoices (included the scanned invoices). The suppliers can send invoices using ebMS or traditional VAN-routes (like ftp) to the operator that is used by the authorities. The documents are then transferred to the actual authorities using ebMS (again)

A big part of the 11 million invoices that are received each year in Sweden by government agencies go through ebMS.
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