Electronic Invoices in the SAP World

The turbo for your accounting

EU Directives
Electronic Invoice Formats
Electronic Invoices in SAP
SAP Certifications

Cost-Efficient Accounting

The manual creation and processing of invoices is process-, time- and cost-intensive. As Germany's largest customer, the public sector therefore categorically demands invoices that can be processed electronically. With XRechnung and ZUGFeRD, two formats are available that meet the requirements. A solution developed by Arvato Systems and certified by SAP brings both formats into the SAP world.


Invoices in the classic sense are a costly affair. Both the issuer and the recipient incur high time and cost expenditures for the manual creation and processing of invoices.


The processes of manual, paper-based invoicing are time-consuming and characterized by high friction losses - the reasons for this include:

  • Manual entry of invoice data is error-pron
  • Costs for paper, printing, envelopes and postage are considerable
  • Deadline management is not transparent
  • Receipt of payment is delayed
  • Paper invoices have to be laboriously archived in printed form


On the recipient side, the processes are no less complex:

  • Receiving invoices on paper and in digital form requires a time-consuming hybrid invoice handling process
  • Invoice information must be transferred manually or via text recognition systems into the accounting software - a time-consuming and error-prone process
  • Review and approval processes based on paper-based invoices are complex and time-consuming


E-Invoicing Leads to Savings and Further Benefits

Electronic invoicing, or e-invoicing, streamlines and simplifies invoicing processes. The goal of e-invoicing is automated, electronic invoice processing. It is obvious that electronic invoices lead to significant cost savings. Validated figures on this are not available, but savings of up to 70% are often cited. This sounds plausible, as the time and effort required to create and process them is of course significantly lower and, incidentally, more sustainable.

Electronic invoices offer a number of benefits beyond the savings compared to paper-based accounting. For example, standardization of the accounting system leads to an increase in transparency and optimization of liquidity management.

Public sector demands electronic invoicing

According to the OECD, the order volume of the public sector in Germany is equivalent to the enormous sum of around 500 billion per year - making it the largest client. With this volume, highly efficient processes are essential. Of course, this also applies to accounting. Since the end of November 2020, all business partners of the public sector must transmit their invoices in electronically processable form. This will optimize the efficiency of invoice processing and reduce bureaucracy in the cooperation between business partners.

This is based on EU Directive 2014/55/EU of the European Parliament on electronic invoicing for public contracts. Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Finance provide extensive information and tutorials on e-invoicing in the federal administration.

Electronic Invoice Formats

Often, an invoice sent as a PDF is already mistakenly considered an electronic invoice. However, it is nothing more than a digital visual equivalent of the invoice. In terms of electronic processing, it is no different from a paper invoice - it too leads to a media break in accounting.


XRechnung - clear focus on XML

The so-called XRechnung avoids such a media break. It is a pure XML-based data model for the transmission of machine-readable invoice data in accordance with the EU Directive. Within the XML code, a PDF of the invoice can be transmitted as a binary string. However, this can only be read by humans using third-party software. This means that XRechnung can be used primarily for electronic invoicing.


ZUGFeRD - Hybrid of PDF and XML

The so-called ZUGFeRD standard offers more flexibility. The abbreviation stands for "Central User Guide of the Electronic Invoice Forum Germany". It describes a data format that also implements EU Directive 2014/55/EU. It is therefore, as is often assumed, not an application software, but a structural description of an invoice data record, which must be supported by the software used in the company.


The advantage of ZUGFeRD: It is a hybrid format consisting of a PDF file with the visual representation of the invoice, in which an XML file with the invoice data is embedded. This makes ZUGFeRD suitable for both traditional and electronic invoicing. In addition, unlike XRechnung, no bilateral agreement is required between the business partners.

Transmission of Invoices via Two Federal and State Portals

ZRE: This is the central billing platform of the federal government (direct federal administration such as ministries). It allows electronic invoices to be submitted and the status of submitted invoices to be viewed. It is also possible to create electronic invoices via a web form, but this will certainly only be practicable in individual cases.

OZG-RE: This invoice receipt portal is compliant with the Act to Improve Online Access to Administrative Services, or OZG for short. It is used by the indirect federal administration (such as corporations, institutions, foundations) as well as some federal states.

Processing via Peppol brings further efficiency gains

The term Peppol often appears in connection with electronic invoicing. The abbreviation stands for Pan-European Public Procurement OnLine and is the name of an international initiative aimed at standardizing cross-border, electronic procurement procedures within the EU. Peppol also handles the transmission of invoices to the ZRE and OZG-RE portals.

The entire procurement process, including that of the public sector, can be automated via this network - including order confirmations, shipping notifications and invoices. This further minimization of effort leads to considerable savings.

Electronically processable invoices from SAP

To create invoices in the XRechnung and ZUGFeRD formats, it is necessary that the systems used for ERP and accounting support the formats. Arvato Systems has developed a solution for implementing the two formats in the SAP world. This is already being used by a number of companies, such as energy providers, as well as by city administrations.


In the run-up to invoice creation, the solution checks whether the invoice must be created in electronically processable formats or whether a pure PDF invoice is sufficient - relevant factors include, for example, the invoice recipient, the invoice amount and other aspects. Within the framework of the EU directive, invoice recipients are obliged to check whether the respective invoice is correct. In order to avoid correction efforts on both sides, the solution already checks whether the invoice complies with all requirements before transmission.

The Benefits at a Glance

Invoice creation and dispatch in XRechnungand ZUGFeRD formats
Reversal and credit notes also in the formats XRechnung and ZUGFeRD
Invoicing can be done from the modules I-SU and SD
Support of all SAP technologies for forms (SAP Script, SmartForms and Adobe Forms)
Invoice validation
E-invoice monitor for invoice tracking
Automated transmission of invoices
Support of Peppol
Automatic archiving of invoices
SAP Certifications Arvato Systems
Certified by SAP

As one of the first solutions to support XRechnung and ZUGFeRD out of SAP, the solution developed by Arvato Systems was certified by SAP for use with SAP S/4HANA. This also applies to use in the cloud and on-premise.

Releases Overview

In the following overview, you will find the current release statuses of our ZUGFeRD solution.

  • New:

    • Adjustments made for X-Invoice version 3.0


    • Adjustment of the selection of the VAT ID of a business partner
    • Transmission of discounts at item level in ZUGFeRD and X-invoice files
    • Adaptation of UBL format for credit notes
    • [Peppol] Adjustment to the web service call
    • Further minor error corrections in Main / SD / IS-U modules
    • and assignment removed
  • Further development:

    • Extension of the authorization check for own components


    • Correction of dependencies between individual components
    • Correction of an error that led to duplicate attachments
    • Adjustments to a data type in XML structures
    • Further minor error corrections in Main/SD/IS-U modules
  • New:

    • Components for the RE-FX module
    • Revised authorization concept


    • [SD] Adjustment in the preparation of additions and deductions
    • [SD] Error correction in function for copying attachments
    • Bug fixing in the implementation of ZUGFeRD validation rules
    • Further minor error corrections in Main/SD/IS-U modules
  • New:

    • Merge function for attachments on business partner level adjustable
    • Optional takeover of the original file name of attachments
    • Option to rename the ZUGFeRD or X-Invoice file
    • Selection of specific e-mail addresses from the business partner


    • Removal of an error in the resending of e-mails
    • Sending of archived e-mails with long recipient addresses enabled
    • Determination of the customer number on the basis of the business partner
    • Storage of ZUGFeRD specific data in VA01 and VA02
    • Further error corrections in modules Main / SD / IS-U

    Further development:

    • [SD] Removed dependencies from copy control for reference and assignment
  • New:

    • Certification for S/4HANA and S/4HANA Cloud Extended Edition
    • Translation into English
    • Fiori Tiles for accessing transactions via the Fiori Launchpad


    • [IS-U] Determination of recipient e-mail address
    • [IS-U] Determination of Reversal Documents for Correction Invoices
    • Error corrections in modules Main / SD / IS-U

    Further development:

    • Support X-Invoice Format 2.2
  • New:

    • Mapping of all KosIT ZUGFeRD-relevant business rules (203 business rules)
    • Mapping of all national business rules [Germany] for XRechnung (25 business rules)
    • Mapping of additional business rules from Arvato Systems (20 business rules)
    • Maintenance and reporting of the commercial register number for all relevant partners (e.g. BT-30, BT-47, BT-61)
    • [IS-U] Integration of Details of Consumption Data (also of Previous Period) as Free Text (BT-22)
    • [IS-U] Integration of Details of Advance Payments, Budget Billing Plans, and Meter Reading Information as Free Text (BT-22)
    • [IS-U] Maintenance and integration of intercompany data (e.g. order no., cost center) at item level
    • Integration of documentation for amount fields on document level
    • Integration of documentation for line items
    • Integration of documentation for terms of payment
    • Update of code lists via Excel upload function



    • [SD] Key access to VBAK and VBAP data limited to 10 characters
    • Separate determination of additions and deductions on document level (BT-107 / BT-108)
    • Further minor error corrections in modules Main, SD and IS-U


    Further development:

    • Revision of the check framework to map all relevant business rules
    • Extension of selection screen to include sales organization and division
    • Internal e-mail dispatch takes additional e-mail recipients into account
    • Revision of the tab 'Document: Recipient' in the monitor
    • Reference to previous invoice (BT-25) for cancellation or correction invoices
    • Display of tax base amount in monitor (BT-109)
    • [IS-U] Determination and Integration of the Rounding Amount (BT-114)
  • New:

    • Creation of UBL-XRechnung beside ZUGFeRD (CII) XRechnung
    • eXclusiveFunction 'PEPPOL connector' for the connection of the PEPPOL product in the ZUGFeRD monitor
    • New status 'Shipped / Delivered' (relevant when using the PEPPOL product)
    • (KosIT) validation of XRechnung (when using the PEPPOL product)
    • Determination of the status of submitted portal invoices (when using the PEPPOL product)
    • New data check module for checking item amounts
    • New data check module for checking the benefit periods
    • Structure of URIUniversalCommunication segment with routing ID or alternatively e-mail
    • Enhancement of GTIN customizing with assignment rules for customer-specific value determination
    • Enhancement of basic configuration to include assignment of pricing procedure to condition type
    • Data migration from IDoc for legacy data records enabled


    • File descriptions are reloaded language dependent (vendor)
    • Negative base amounts for taxes allowed (BT-116)
    • [SD] Invalid routing ID in vendor no longer locks new entry
    • [SD] Text fields in order (additional data B) are ignored during batch processing
    • further small error corrections in modules Main / SD / IS-U

    Further development:

    • Data check module 'Amounts' enhanced (e.g. check for at least one tax/item line)
    • [SD] Determination of tax condition type per pricing procedure (fallback 'VAT')
    • [IS-U] Recursive Determination of GTIN by Document Line Type, Main and Subtransaction, and Other Fields
    • [IS-U] Consideration of Value Assignment Rules for Unit/Sales Price and Quantity
    • Selection screen of the ZUGFeRD monitor extended by further fields (creator, creation date)
    • Ignoring comment lines in SO10 texts (e.g. e-mail texts)
  • New:

    • Display of the release notes for the current release of the ZUGFeRD Monitor via new function
    • Display of basic data (e.g. contact persons) of the ZUGFeRD Monitor via new function
    • [SD] Determination and consideration of down payments
    • eXclusiveFunction 'Statistics connector' for integration of the statistics monitor in the ZUGFeRD monitor
    • Downstream data enrichment and validation for fully processed records
    • [SD] Check payment status in downstream data enhancement
    • Search help for free text codes considers 'Recommended' indicator


    • [IS-U] Deletion of check for 'relevant for posting' indicator
    • No size check for files of type e-mail
    • Further minor error corrections in modules Main, SD and IS-U

    Further development:

    • Separate output and determination of unit price and quantity or purchase price and quantity
    • Portal customizing extension to include attachment size and sender e-mail
    • Enhancement of portal customizing with system ID (for maintenance of test & production portals)
    • Consideration of portal customizing in eXclusiveFunction 'external e-mail data'.
    • Enhancement of migration report for transfer of files from 'old' data records
    • Extended error output for ADS errors, if they do not contain an error text


Why Arvato Systems?

Arvato Systems has many years of experience in the SAP Finance & Controlling (FICO) environment and in the SD and I-SU modules. This knowledge advantage also flows into our consulting services for the creation of electronically processable invoices. In doing so, we implement specific customer and industry requirements. If there are any changes to the formats, these are implemented automatically.


Arvato Systems offers a comprehensive service package for the introduction of electronically processable invoices:

  • Analysis and development of the infrastructure for the use of XRechnung and ZUGFeRD in different system landscapes such as SAP S/4HANA as well as SAP IS-U or other industry-specific applications.
  • Consulting and support during the implementation of the solution
  • Maintenance and support

About Arvato Systems

Global IT specialist Arvato Systems supports major companies in Digital Transformation. About 3,100 staff in over 25 locations stand for in-depth technology expertise, industry knowledge, and focus on customer requirements. Working as a team, we develop innovative IT solutions, transition our clients into the Cloud, integrate digital processes, and take on IT systems operation and support.

We offer: 

As a part of the Bertelsmann-owned Arvato network, we have the unique capability to work across the entire value chain. Through our strong strategic partner network with global top players such as AWS, Google, Microsoft, and SAP, we continuously strengthen our know-how and leverage the most advanced technology. 

Your Contact for ZUGFeRD

Simon Hagenbäumer
Expert for ZUGFeRD