Building consensus in Europe through CEN BII

From 19th to 22th of March 2013 the kick off meeting of the CEN BII 3 Workshop took place in Barcelona, at the IESE University, hosted by Everis.

In 2007, the first workshop of CEN BII was initiated due to the vision of different people (worth mentioning Peter Borresen from NITA) to spread the work made in the nordic countries with NES to the rest of Europe. Spain joined the group with its own work on pre-award processes called CODICE so the whole public procurement process was covered in that initial workshop. There were four teams in that first edition: the group dealing with Profiles and data models, the group to help convergence between the two main syntaxes: UBL and UN/CEFACT, the group dealing with tools and conformance and the group devoted to pilots and testing.

While CEN BII was creating their deliverables, some relevant stakeholders and implementors joined the workshop and worked to improve the quality bringing their own experiences and knowledge. Projects such as ePrior from the European Commission and PEPPOL, a pan-European large scale project, benefited from CEN BII deliverables and enriched them. The end result of the first workshop was a set of profiles that were directly implementable in real projects. The more mature profiles were the ones devoted to cover post-award processes such as ordering or invoicing.

Once CEN BII ended, PEPPOL followed up its development activities and they found some improvements and corrections to be made in BII deliverables. This was the main reason for CEN BII2 to start as a follow-up workshop. The main task of the CEN BII2 workshop, started in 2009 and ended in 2012 was to support deployment made by PEPPOL and other national initiatives that were implementing CEN BII standards to build their own electronic public procurement infrastructures. There was also the need to improve the work done in the pre-award area, as it did not reach enough consensus among the workshop participants.

The new workshop split into working teams, Architecture, eNotification, eTendering, eCatalogue and PostAward to have groups more focused on each process area. The intention of the workshop was to make more relevant the work on the pre-award phase. Regarding the architecture team, apart from defining a methodology to drive the work of the other work teams, they defined the concept of syntax neutrality: The CEN BII has never had the intention to build new standards on electronic documents, nor to provide guidelines for an specific syntax, but to define the requirements that should be met in order to perform public procurement processes in Europe. Once these requirements identified, they are to be mapped to different syntaxes, in a process called syntax-binding. This process was done during the BII2 workshop with two syntaxes: UBL and UN/CEFACT.

As a result of these two BII workshops there is a set of  valuable assets to promote cross-border interoperability in Europe. BII is by far the most relevant initiative on electronic public procurement in Europe, with a real aim to build consensus among their participants to reach real European interoperability. All the workshop deliverables can be found here, and the main demonstration of its value is that they have been implemented in different countries and initiatives (DIFI, SFTI, PEPPOL, ePRIOR, DIGST,…), and that implementing them leads to better interoperability between these heterogeneous communities.

The Workshop is now starting its third phase that is planned to last until 2015. As agreed during the BII2 plenary session of the workshop in June 2012 done in Reykjavik, there is still a need for a follow-up workshop to support implementors, to improve pre-award deliverables and to promote the work done through capacity building sessions. There is a large community of users implementing CEN BII deliverables, and this means the governance and life-cycle management strategies for these deliverables has to be agreed and defined within the EU to bring an stability message to the user community. This is why the workshop stakeholders have been working since December 2012 until March 2013 in the definition of the new business plan for CEN BII3 that has been presented during the kick-off meeting of the workshop in Barcelona.

Find below some notes on this CEN BII3 week in Barcelona.

Pre-Award meeting

During the pre-award meeting on March 19th,  there was a presentation for each team. Veit Jahns presented the role of electronic catalogues in the pre-award process. CEN BII2 defined some profiles that involve the exchange of electronic catalogues and electronic catalogue templates, but there is still lack of consensus on the use of classification systems. There are different types of classification systems with different level of abstraction, some of them are public and other private, and some barriers and problems such as which classification systems are relevant and which data models have to be used. The catalogue team proposed to evaluate and refine existing pre-award catalogue profiles and provide guidelines on their usage.

Ana Estelrich from UN/CEFACT eP7 presented the challenges in Hospital Purchasing. eHealth deals with large volumes and the workflow involves documents in different formats. Applying CEN BII deliverables to the eHealth tendering process could be a major benefit, and she highlighted that the syntax is not enough to increase interoperability, code lists should also be aligned. She made some recommendations to CEN BII3, such as collaborate with UN/CEFACT, align code lists and terminology and start early the technical work to submit change requests to UBL and UN/CEFACT regarding requirements missing in these syntaxes.

Didier Hardy from the TED talked about the eNotification team. Points of interest for CEN BII 3 were in the input process of notification: the usage of corrigenda and certified published notice, adding profiles for reporting services and request for publication authorization, and define forwarded notices and electronic journal brokers role. Activities in eNotification team should be aligned with eTendering team, and there is work to be done on the code lists global identification, message acknowledgements and improve the awareness of the outcomes of the workshop.

Enric Staromiejski from Everis provided a new vision to the CEN BII3 group talking about the relationship between Public Procurement and Open Data. The idea behind his presentation was titled o-Procurement and the intention is to provide a new and rather different approach on how contracting authorities expose their own public data. Most of the ideas for o-Procurement belong to the e-Notification team, but there are also potentially solutions for self-qualification of tenderers using these open techniques.

Pieter Breyne from PwC,  on behalf of the European Commission, presented Open ePrior. This project has been implemented in DIGIT for post-award purposes and it is now facing the pre-award phase of public procurement in the European Commission. Pieter said that the Open ePrior implementation of pre-award follows CEN BII2 profiles, and that they will become a stakeholder in CEN BII3 to provide the feedback from their project as they did with the post-award profiles in the first workshop edition.

Finally, Kornelis Drijfhout from TenderNed explained  the eTEG Report delivered on 2012 by the Expert Group on electronic Tendering to the EC. Regarding the tendering team, Kornelis explained some specific deliverables he wanted to be considered in this new workshop, a profile for economic operator profile matching to ensure that an economic operator matches a request for qualification in a call for tenders, a basic transaction protocol as defined in the Xvergabe project in Germany and start bridging the gap between pre and post award through a new profile for the contract settlement.

Plenary Session

On Thursday 21st, the CEN BII3 plenary met at the IESE school in Barcelona for the workshop kick off meeting.

Stuart Feder, chair of CEN BII2 and chair of UN/CEFACT started the meeting at 9. He explained the achievements of the previous workshops and thanked Everis for hosting the workshop in Barcelona.

Sergi Biosca, Everis partner, welcomed the participants and made a presentation of Everis. He said they will participate in the CEN BII3 workshop.

Alina from CEN made an speech through Internet presenting the CEN project and rules to the audience.

Anders Kingstedt made a presentation of the OpenPEPPOL project and the use of the CEN BII deliverables in that initiative.

Martin Forsberg showed a practical use of the CEN BII2 profiles when he presented the effort done in the nordic countries mapping their different national initiatives using CEN BII requirement model as the pattern to where all the different syntaxes where mapped to. This helps implementors understanding the differences and can be used to create conversion tools from one syntax to another.

Pieter Breyne from PwC presented the golden book of good practices. He explained the methodology used to create the golden book and he focused on those practices that referred to the work of CEN BII as the foundation to build interoperability between electronic procurement platforms.

Kerstin Woldhmal explained the proposals for the new directive on Public Procurement and how this could affect the work in the workshop, basically in the pre-award group teams.

Christian Galinski, CEN eCAT chair, explained the different classification systems and their use in eCatalogues.

Finally, Jostein Fromyr made the presentation of the CEN BII3 draft business plan. There was a joint reading of the business plan and there were some minor comments and amendments. One of the most important ideas in this new BII3 workshop is broadening the scope to embrace B2B. This means that the requirements on the private procurement will be also taken into account to build new or amend existing profiles in order to allow both public and private procurement. In the post award phase of procurement there are not huge differences between public and private procurement, hence enlarging the scope of the BII profiles to private procurement will allow companies to have a single tool to cover relationships with public authorities as well as with private entities.

The workshop approved the business plan unanimously.

The workshop organization was explained by Jostein Fromyr. There will be an Architecture and Methodology team, a Capacity Building Team and several working teams: eNotification, eTendering, eCatalogue and Post-Award. This organization will be used to work remotely, nevertheless, during the workshop face to face meetings, there will be only two parallel sessions: pre-award and post-award to improve team coordination.

Following the business plan approval, the following workshop positions were proposed:

Chair:  Stuart Feder

Technical Vice-Chair: Jostein Fromyr

Coordination Vice-Chair: Antonia Caressa

eArchitecture Team: Jostein Fromyr

eNotification Team: Didier Hardy

eTendering Team: Kornelis Drijfhout

eCatalogue Team: Veit Jahns

Post-award Team: Martin Forsberg

Capacity Building Team: Missing

The workshop plenary approved these positions unanimously.

Jostein Fromyr finalized his presentation explaining next steps, the participation fees and the grant agreement from the Commission. The next meeting will be in Oslo from 25th to 27th of June, and until that new meeting, there will be teleconferences of the different teams.

After closing the meeting, there was a guided tour to la Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s temple sponsored by Invinet, followed by a dinner near the harbor.

Post-award Meeting

On Friday 22nd, the post-award team met in Everis offices. The goal was to identify important areas for BII3 which require further development. The group discussed a number of areas that could benefit from additional work and clarification. The identified developments were focused on refining and providing examples on the usage of current profiles, by means of creating guidelines or sample data and XML instances.

There was also an special emphasis on creating a walk-through on how to make use of the BII2 customization methodology and create customization templates for the benefit of implementors such as openPEPPOL community. Finally, additional profiles to cover self-billing and replenishment were also suggested as required by some stakeholders.

On Friday evening, a small group of participants in BII3 went to a Human Castle training in Sabadell. The human castles, or ‘castells’  are a Catalan tradition that were recognized by UNESCO as an element of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Apart from its cultural values, there are some values in this cultural activity that could be shared by BII: individual and collective self-improvement, goal setting, solidarity (among members of the same group as well as other groups) and the integration of all ages, conditions and capacities into the same project.

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