Automate Zugferd, Faktur-X and XRechnung

Automate Zugferd, Faktur-X and XRechnung

Processing and creating ZUGFeRD, Faktur-X and XRechnung automatically with existing IT systems is a welcome simplification in the otherwise time-consuming exchange of invoices between companies. Find out here how you too can import and create digital invoices in these XML-based standards without having to introduce a new IT system.


Automatically importing invoices and exchanging them with business partners is a standard process in business transactions - but unfortunately also a very time-consuming and expensive one. In most cases, the invoice issuer first converts digital invoice data into analog formats such as PDF, TIFF or even paper, which the invoice recipient then often has to transform back into digital information, often with great technical effort or even manually. We have shown how even this can be automated elsewhere elsewhere.


The accounting standards explained

Several standardization committees thought it could be easier and created the XML-based standards ZUGFeRD, Factur-X and XRechnung. The latter is even legally binding for invoice exchange with German authorities. Nevertheless, one problem remains: How can existing company processes automatically use these invoice formats to read and create them? Many solutions on offer are primarily aimed at creating XRechnung or ZUGFeRD in web interfaces. If you create a large number of invoices, this must work directly from the ERP system. In addition, the receipt and import of such invoices is still not solved. We have a solution for precisely this that works platform-independently and can be integrated anywhere.

What are ZUGFeRD, Factur-X and XRechnung anyway? Let's get this out of the way: ZUGFeRD and Factur-X are the same thing - one German, the other French. Technically speaking, it is a PDF - PDF/A to be precise - in which an XML file with the invoice data is embedded. The idea is that people can read the PDF and machines can read the XML file. In addition, the structure and fields of the XML file are standardized, i.e. uniformly named, so that each piece of information can be clearly assigned and processed when it is read.



ZUGFeRD example: PDF with embedded XML

The XRechnung is an XML file that also has a standardized structure. However, it lacks the graphical component provided for in the ZUGFeRD standard. If a person wants to open and read it, they either have to come to terms with the XML document and understand and interpret the fields, or they use a service, usually a website, which can at least prepare the XRechnung structurally thanks to its standard.


Read out ZUGFeRD invoice

The problem: The company's own IT system

If you write a few invoices with software such as lexoffice, sevDesk, fastbill or other solutions for small businesses, you can create ZUGFeRD or XRechnungen at the touch of a button and send them by email. But what does this look like if you create hundreds of invoices per month or even day, which also need to be converted to the standard required by the recipient? Then you need "software" that integrates seamlessly into your own leading ERP system so that invoice creation can be triggered with the invoice data from the ERP system, while the "software" takes care of the correct design and transmission of the ZUGFeRD or XRechnung.

If you receive a ZUGFeRD or XRechnung invoice yourself, the same "software" should be able to transfer the invoice data directly to the ERP system without the need for manual intervention. Whether the invoice arrives by email, interface or file upload should also be irrelevant. The invoice data must enter the ERP system without errors and immediately, as payment targets, discounts and deadlines run from the time the invoice is received and not just when it is processed.


Business Automatica GmbH - Integration into a Workato Connector

Creating versus reading

To ensure that everything is quick and easy and can be kept flexible, we have developed such "software" that can be integrated into any integration and automation platform as a module or service. Whether Workato, Oracle Integration Cloud, SAP Integration Suite, Mulesoft or webMethods - thanks to API and connectors, our digital invoice converter fits into any middleware.


The creation of ZUGFeRD invoices offers a special feature: the invoice creator can use a configuration file to determine how the PDF of the ZUGFeRD invoice should look. The layout can therefore be adapted to your own corporate identity. If our invoice converter is called, the calling process receives the ZUGFeRD PDF/A invoice with the embedded XML file as a response, so that it can be stored on a file server or cloud storage such as AWS S3 or Box. Alternatively, the invoice could also be displayed in MS Teams or Slack before being sent and only delivered after approval. There are no limits to the preferences of your own workflow.

All steps can also be documented in a logging app to ensure complete transparency of all invoicing activities at all times.

The same step must be taken when importing ZUGFeRD or XRechnung: Parsing an XML file according to the standard, i.e. assigning the field names and evaluating the content. The content is then transferred to the downstream system, e.g. MS Dynamics F&O. In the case of ZUGFeRD, however, the PDF/A must first be split into the graphical invoice and the XML file. The PDF can be stored on a file server or cloud storage and the link to the respective human-readable document can be transferred to the downstream system as a URL. The data from the XML file is then in the downstream system and the employee can display the PDF in a browser by clicking on the URL if required.


Business Automatica GmbH

Automation, Integration, WayWeWork

What does this implementation teach us? If data is to be exchanged between systems without manual interaction and possibly involving other systems, this is an integration task. At the same time, integration always requires an understanding of the desired workflow. This in turn requires people to think about the way they want to work.

Invoice processing should always run automatically. It is a "necessary evil", as no money flows without it. At the same time, this business process has high requirements in terms of accuracy, formats and traceability.

XRechnung and ZUGFeRD or Faktur-X facilitate data exchange, but these two standards are only "half the battle". Only when the transmitted data is integrated into an automated workflow from start to finish will the parties involved really be helped. In the event of a complaint, they can then not only understand and explain every step of the processing, but also initiate new processes if necessary.

A flexible connector that can be used from any IT environment to create and import ZUGFeRD, Faktur-X and XRechnung invoices is a welcome opportunity to simplify and improve the quality of your own invoice processing and to better meet legal requirements.


About Business Automatica GmbH:

Business Automatica reduces process costs by automating manual activities, increases the quality of data exchange in complex system architectures and connects on-premise systems with modern cloud and SaaS architectures. Business Automatica also offers automation solutions from the cloud that are geared towards cyber security.