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Leica Geosystems relies on Unifiedpost Group for compliant invoicing processes in Italy

Leica Geosystems - a global manufacturer of precisionmeasuring instruments for construction surveying - took the necessary measuresto ensure its Italian subsidiary complied with national electronic invoicingregulations. All with the help of Unifiedpost Group.

Since January 2019, electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) has been mandatory in Italy for all domestic companies sending invoices to Italian customers. Businesses must first send their invoices to Italy's official "Sistema di Interscambio" (SdI) platform before they reach the recipient. Leica Geosystems took the necessary measures to ensure its Italian subsidiary complied with local legislation.

Occasion: Italy’s mandatory e-invoicing revolution

The European Commission's EU Directive 2014/55/EU intends to promote the "use of electronic invoicing for public contracts by promoting the guarantee of semantic interoperability and the improvement of legal certainty". For this purpose, Italy has created an official platform (SdI) through which all invoices must pass.

Thomas Pitscheider, SAP Project Manager at Leica Geosystems and responsible for the changeover in Italy, did not want any complications to arise when transitioning the business' Italian entity to complaint, electronic processes. Thomas tackled the necessary measures in a suitable time using competent service partners.

"In general, digitalisation supports us in achieving our corporate goals and enables optimised processes, more efficient work, and cost savings. However, the country-specific e-invoicing requirements in the EU are currently adding additional requirements. Some of which pose real technical challenges," says Pitscheider.

The tender: Choosing Unifiedpost Group as a partner

Pitscheider remembers the time pressure he faced in mid-2018:

"From the 1st of January 2019, all companies in Italy were obliged to issue electronic invoices in the B2B and B2C sectors, to send them exclusively via the official exchange system SdI, and to sign them with a qualified electronic signature. In order to meet this deadline, we had to find competent partners for the technical implementation very quickly. At the beginning of 2018, we initially tried to search the market for providers ourselves, but then had to make a decision due to the large number and the lack of clarity and the time pressure. We soon decided to call in a consultant," says Pitscheider.

The project: Late kick-off and tight timeframe

In mid-October 2018, after a successful tender project, Leica awarded Unifiedpost Group the contract. However, there was only twelve weeks until the project needed to go live, therefore the project team was put together in great haste and the kick-off meeting took place at the beginning of November.

On the recommendation of Unifiedpost Group, Pitscheider had assigned the connection to the SAP system to the experts at Arvato Bertelsmann. The project distribution was then clear:

  • Leica Geosystems took care of extracting the data from SAP.
  • Arvato Bertelsmann programmed the interface to Unifiedpost Group and took care of establishing the connection to Unifiedpost Group's solution and returning the acknowledgement states to SAP.
  • Unifiedpost Group converted the IDOC delivered from SAP into a FatturaPA format (Italy's legally required format). After an internal check, Unifiedpost Group sent the data to Italy's SdI platform and returned the acknowledgement states.

In mid-November 2018, the concept was finally approved and the project team was able to begin implementation.

The state platform: challenge accepted

Summing up, Pitscheider says: "Technically, the project was certainly a challenge, the most difficult part being to understand the FatturaPA format of the platform. With regard to our deadline pressure, Unifiedpost Group fortunately already had experience in Italy. Nevertheless, the tests were difficult because the XML files could only be checked for technical correctness, but not for content. Unfortunately, there was also no one we could have asked about this. And the existing documentation was only available in Italian."

Despite all adversities, Leica Geosystems was able to send the first productive invoices to its customers via Italy's SdI portal in the middle of January!

In Italy, Leica Geosystems records an average of between 9,000 and 10,000 outgoing invoices per year. Sending so-called split-payment invoices to business-to-government (B2G) customers proved especially difficult. Only they were allowed to reject invoices electronically. For this, they had 14 days, and this period was usually used up to request a corrected invoice. In split-payment invoices, only the net amount is paid by the authority to the supplier. Taxes are paid directly to the tax authority.

Invoice receipt: Unifiedpost Group retrieves the data from the platform

Leica Geosystems has been processing incoming invoices in many of its companies using an intelligent, self-learning system developed by Tanro.

In the process, the invoices arrive by mail with PDF attachments and are processed using an OCR scan; this involves a total of about 100,000 invoices per year. Unifiedpost Group "picks up" the invoice at the state platform, converts it into a PDF format with SdI structure and sends it in this form to Leica for further processing.

Outlook: Europe goes digital

Following the successful transition to digitalised processes, other European countries are now on Leica's digitalisation agenda. With an international presence and with more than 130 national companies, Leica Geosystems certainly has a lot to do to ensure it meets tax compliance regulations around the globe.

It goes without saying that Leica Geosystems is once again relying on its tried and tested partner Unifiedpost Group.

The case study was originally in German, created by crossinx, the former name of Unifiedpost Germany - the German entity of Unifiedpost Group.