From the NSO in Italy to the European e-invoice: are you ready?


The European electronic invoice is a reality, soon it will also be the standardization of international purchasing procedures with NSO. From spring 2019, all electronic invoices exchanged in the context of public procurement to and from contracting authorities and entities will have to comply with the format standard provided for by European Directive no. 55 of 2014. The aim is to internationalise the management of tax documents, with a view to simplifying matters for companies that have to do business with public administrations even across national borders.

In the same context there is the introduction, step by step, of the NSO – Nodo Smistamento Ordini for the exchange of order documents between private suppliers and public administrations. These are all steps along the same path, the ultimate objective of which is to standardise procedures at an international level: it is easy to see, therefore, that these innovations will affect all areas of public administration documentation in the future. It is therefore essential for companies to adapt in time, investing wisely to ensure the right technologies to address these upcoming changes. The question to ask as an entrepreneur is: am I ready at the moment?


NSO and European electronic invoicing, towards standardisation

UBL may say nothing to many, but it is an abbreviation that will soon become very common. It is in fact the international standard format for the exchange of tax documents. It has been identified as the reference format both for the creation of electronic orders to be sent via NSO – Nodo Smistamento Ordini, and as the format for the European electronic invoice. This format is suitable for the transmission of documents through the European project Peppol, an infrastructure created to provide a standard in international public procurement activities.

A standard that is gradually being adopted by Italian suppliers and administrations. First of all, it should be noted that from February 1, 2020, the exchange of order documents with the public administrations of the National Health Service must take place exclusively through NSO. Peppol is one of the channels identified by the regulations for the transmission of electronic orders. This choice, together with the choice of the UBL XML format in which to prepare documents, which looks to the future, in the same direction in which the European electronic invoice moves.

The aim is to guarantee completely digital purchasing procedures. As anticipated, the aim is to digitise every aspect, from the order (through the Order Sorting Node) to the invoicing (precisely through the European electronic invoice).

These choices will bring obvious advantages:

  • Interoperability of systems, not only at national level but also outside Italy;
  • Simplification of procedures;
  • Saving of time and resources.

All conditions that on the one hand facilitate the business of private individuals, streamlining practices perceived as long and too bureaucratic, on the other hand offers greater transparency in the operations of the public administration. The results are process optimization and economic savings on both sides.


Fear of innovation?

However, as in the face of any imminent technological change, there is no lack of perplexity and even resistance. Many companies perceive these changes as mere regulatory obligations to which they will have to adapt, living with anguish the date of introduction of these innovations. Thus, many entrepreneurs and institutions are waiting, asking for extensions, announcing catastrophic scenarios. To avoid these inconveniences, it must be understood that innovations such as European electronic invoicing and the NSO – Nodo Smistamento Ordini are an opportunity, an opportunity to expand and improve their market.

Through the digitization of processes you do not only get benefits at the level of your company, but also in relations with the public administration. Obviously, this does not only mean that those who do not comply with the rules will be cut off from the market and will not be able to do business with the public administration. But it also means demonstrating to customers that they are a cutting-edge company, ready to innovate and to guarantee security and respect for the law, with the effect of a positive perception of the way they work.


Being ready: the need for a corporate culture of innovation

Since January 2019, B2B e-invoicing has upset the world of companies that are used to doing business with private individuals, but to a much lesser extent those that work with the public administration. In fact, the InvoicePA is mandatory from 2015. Embracing the European e-invoice will only mean taking a further step in this direction.

The NSO – Nodo Smistamento Ordini is now also thinking about preparing companies to achieve a corporate culture based on the digitisation of systems. The State Accounting Office, which deals with the management of the NSO, already a few months before the fateful date of February 1, 2020 has given the opportunity to interested companies to use the new system on an experimental basis. Not only that, but also to adopt it definitively in advance. Many have already begun, relying on experts, laws and the desire to be competitive in the future.