For a long time it has looked as if e-invoicing would be enforced by laws and regulations. That does not turn out to be the case, at least for the time being. Nevertheless, it is very attractive for companies to switch to e-invoicing, says Danny Kind, Senior Product Manager E-invoicing from ICreative. “Especially if they comply with the applicable requirements for billing data, so that both the customer and the supplier benefit.”
Received invoices that do not meet your business requirements and then return to the sender. It is in many companies a daily recurrent source of annoyance. Examples of inaccuracies include: the lack of payment information, order or invoice number, incomplete statement of amounts or incorrect statement.
The time-robbing manual process
The process of returning that incorrect invoice contains many successive manual actions that are often performed by different persons. This leads to a significant increase in the chance of new errors. Practice: First, the (order) invoice is taken from the application to counteract further processing. The employee copies the document or stores it digitally and sends it to the correct colleague or department.
“Look, we all want an ideal world,” says Danny Kind, senior product manager at ICreative. “A world in which you no longer receive any invoices on paper from your suppliers and in which all digital invoices have the same file format to allow for automatic and error-free processing. In a way, it would be as if we all spoke the same language.” However, until this ideal world becomes a reality, recreating it is the best possible alternative.
The same language
The construction sector, the healthcare sector, the banking sector, municipal organisations: they all have their own specific methods. One might send its invoices as PDF files, another prefers to send paper invoices and a third opts for a completely different format altogether. Danny: “This calls for a platform that translates all these different languages into a single accessible format in the form of XML.” In English: an e-invoice. This is possible with the help of a Basware Network, which, it should be noted, can also be used for the invoices you send to your own clients.
Much has changed in recent years on my visits to companies in the Netherlands. Every rational person knows by now that electronic invoices are better and more efficient than the use of paper or PDF files. Better for the sender who no longer incurs costs for producing and sending paper invoices. Better for the receiver who can process invoices more quickly and efficiently, which in turn benefits the sender. And better for the environment; less paper, less felling of trees, a smaller environmental footprint and thus a better world for future generations. E-invoicing is therefore a no-brainer.
Nevertheless, e-invoicing is not widely supported. We are all busy with ongoing projects. Busy dealing with day-to-day issues. Thus, a subject such as e-invoicing is often neglected. All the more because it is difficult to envisage in advance how e-invoicing should be organised and what cost savings can be achieved. We therefore tackle more tangible projects such as replacing the ERP system or transferring office automation to the cloud.
Besides, e-invoicing also has implications for suppliers and clients. They therefore need to be involved in the implementation of e-invoicing. Because a company can have hundreds, or even thousands of business partners, suppliers as well as clients, it is a considerable undertaking to communicate with all these companies in order to implement e-invoicing and put it into operation.