Since mid-July 2020, many employees of public institutions in Bavaria have had an important help: With the “E-Rechnung in Bayern” service at e-rechnung.bayern.de (German language only), they can now validate and visualize electronic invoices from suppliers and service providers in a highly secure Internet service. This is important because the European Union Directive 2014/55/EU requires public authorities to accept e-invoices.
Bavarian web service makes XRechnung readable
However, not all of the 2,056 communities, markets and cities, 71 administrative districts, 7 districts in Bavaria and their public enterprises already use an ERP or accounting system with this built-in functionality. Without a technical display and translation aid, e-invoices cannot be properly processed and booked. The principle of “R-Rechnung in Bayern”: an XML-based invoice file created according to the “XRechnung” standard is uploaded to the server and can then be downloaded immediately as an HTML and PDF file for further individual processing.
“E-invoices are a very important piece in the mosaic for the digitalization of organizations”
The Bavarian State Ministry for Digitales (StMD) initiated the project as a support for the public sector, the Bavarian State Office for Taxes (BayLfSt) is responsible for the ongoing technical operation – and an mgm team was responsible for the development as a service provider. “E-invoices are a very important piece in the mosaic for the digitalization of organizations,” says Till Gartner, Executive Vice President at mgm. The obligatory and secure handling poses challenges not only for small administrative units. “With ‘E-Rechnung in Bayerne’ many authorities in the beautiful southern German state can now breathe a sigh of relief.”
A12 platform: basis for efficiency and security
In order to implement the web application as quickly as possible, the developers used modules of mgm’s Enterprise Low Code Platform A12. The widgets from A12 were mainly used for the concept and structure of the user interface. In contrast to individual development, this resulted in less effort and a tested and otherwise more difficult to implement accessibility of the application.
So there was more time for another construction site. Because at the same time, the application had to be developed for the northern data center (“Rechenzentrum Nord”) – and thus meet the highest requirements for IT security and data protection. Background: Every uploaded and converted invoice is full of sensitive personal data, plus internal business data such as invoice items, quantities and prices. The system has therefore been developed in such a way that during the entire process only volatile memory is used.
With certainty to the correct routing ID
In addition, a route ID tool (“Leitweg-ID”) is implemented in the website. It enables the local authorities to calculate the necessary check digit and, indirectly, the billers to check the entire route ID. The up to 44-digit route ID is the unique identification of an authority, comparable to the address of the invoice recipient. The new tool calculates the necessary check digit from the rough and fine addressing according to a defined formula. A point of honor: When an e-invoice is uploaded, the system also checks the route ID in one process.
Long-term ecological and economic benefits
Electronic invoicing in accordance with the EU requirements is intended to greatly reduce the effort – and thus costs – from creation to payment and archiving. This does not also apply to PDF files. These are only slightly better than paper invoices because they are not 100 percent exactly machine-readable. A “real” e-invoice puts an end to this: the sender sends a file that is structured according to a defined, generally valid code. In Germany, XRechnung is considered the minimum standard following a decision by the IT Planning Council. Only this structured data enables interoperable exchange across companies, authorities and systems. When opened in an editor, such a file only reveals a kind of jumble of characters at first glance.
Further information is available in the press release (German language only) of the StMD.