100% Digital

We are currently helping a leading healthcare services provider go 100% digital, which means paperless in their order to cash cycle.  As a large organisation, they use EDI to send invoices to several large customers in the UK and EU.  Machine to machine invoicing is great when it works and yet, not so good when it doesn’t.  Two key things EDI and the PEPPOL network don’t do for your order to cash cycle are:

a) guarantee delivery without intervention or supervision; and

b) provide a connected means for querying, dispute management, claims and posting credit notes.

We’ve got you covered.

In terms of point (a) above, we have them covered. When we manage EDI connections for our clients, our dedicated team monitors and manages the output from our systems to the recipient and ensures that delivery is made; if a file is rejected, EDI, in many cases, only provides very limited information on the reason for the failure, so our customer success team will contact our client and ask them to check and resend the file. We supply as much information as we can get from the system.  Corrivo also shows delivery status, so our clients can see whether a file has been delivered successfully and accepted by the recipient for processing or not.

Companies that manage EDI connections in house or outsource this to a third party are not so fortunate. The stakeholders are not as invested in the success of the file transfers, and it is understood that days can be lost in the process of rectifying a delivery failure – not minutes or hours.

Get paid faster?

In theory, invoices sent by EDI should be automatically absorbed into the customer’s Accounts Payable system and forwarded for approval and payment. This can result in the invoice being settled quickly, resulting in the supplier being paid faster than they would have they sent the invoice by email or post.  However, when an invoicee wishes to query an item, this cannot be done through EDI. It is much more of a one-way delivery channel than a tool for two way communication. The same applies to invoices in dispute.   The supplier may need days or weeks to resolve the issue internally to conclude a case and get paid, part paid, or to class it as written-off debt.  #

For all that time, the back and forth communication with the customer takes place outside the delivery channels, but thankfully, at Data Interconnect, we’ve got you covered once again. All our clients have custom branded invoicing portals created for them. All their customers have access to this portal – where they can log in and see only the invoices pertaining to their account. The portal is also the channel through which communications can be made and logged. Invoice queries, Dunning letters, reminders etc., can be accessed on the portal. Customers can look back through past invoices if they wish in order to help them cross-reference items.

In short, they have a free online archive of past invoices.  So, when something doesn’t go quite so well, and there is a delay or an issue, the portal is our client’s invaluable tool for storing, tracking and sending communication with the customer.

EDI for NHS Buyers

The NHS in the UK has partnered with Tradeshift to allow buyers to receive electronic invoices from suppliers. However, suppliers must send any associated documentation such as proof of delivery notes to a separate designated email address for each buying organisation.

In some countries, the eInvoice is packaged in a file with a human-readable version such as a PDF. This can contain the associated documentation needed for approval by the buyers preparatory to payment. Sending associated documentation separately still makes work for the approvers and payers at the buying organisation. Still, it does not provide them with a convenient means to query an invoice online.

Portals for People

The portal then serves as the interface between the supplier and the customer’s Accounts Payable team.  It’s where the human side of accounts receivable and payable meet.  Even if a letter is sent out by post or an invoice is sent by EDI, the customers will still have access to a portal because their invoice or letter was generated on a single platform in an XML format before conversion to the format required for delivery, be that EDI, postal, portal collection or emailed PDF. The platform brings all the invoices together in one place so that they are accessible to the Accounts Receivable team, while the portal sections off the invoices to allow the people involved  – customer and supplier side – to interact.

One platform

It is tempting to treat invoices sent by EDI differently. After all, the processes surrounding them are a variation on the underlying processes governing how most invoices are generated, sent and managed. Beware, however, as this can cause process fragmentation, add to labour time and costs and cause a headache for those responsible for reporting.

The sensible way to manage EDI connections is to let the experts handle them while your credit teams track progress and handle customer relationships.  It’s the economical way to manage a growing number of customer demands for invoices sent by one format of EDI or another.

David Harris

Author David Harris

David Harris is the Business Development Executive at Data Interconnect. Dave works with companies planning the implementation of Corrivo, the cloud-based credit control software which improves cashflow, minimises aged debt and streamlines processes for finance departments. If you would like to know more, contact Dave on: Davidh@datainterconnect.co.uk

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