Invoicing Has Evolved: Goodbye invoicius papyrus
Few people born this century have bought a newspaper. To them, the only reasons for phones to have wires attached are for battery charging or earphones, and even both of those are wireless and digital today. Just as news stories are easily shareable in digital form, so too are invoices: they can move quickly from person to person for processing and approval en route to payment. Are your accounts receivable stuck in the last century?
Paperless and Digitally Digestible
Palaeolithic humans had a diet of foraged nuts, seeds and fruit. There was no bread and little meat. Certainly, no fine wine. Early businesses had a diet of paper with pictures and strange scrawls on them. These evolved into standardised units called typefaces. They could only be digested by bespectacled accountants who translated their meaning into paper books called ledgers, in which they wrote in ink with a pointy metal-tipped stick. Later in the evolution of business machines for creating invoices and other documents became as widespread in commerce as clothing in early humans. These machines, however, still produced invoicius paperyrus, the species of invoice still based on paper. At the turn of the last century and, indeed, the last Millenium, humans started using machines to digest information on invoices instead of scribbling or typing out its contents. A cheap imitation of the digital invoice called a PDF spread far and wide. People were fooled into thinking this was digital. It was a digital picture, not something that a buyer’s accounting team could ingest. True electronic invoicing contains structured fields that can be recognised by the buyer’s own systems, such that they populate their own invoice digestive system, which today we call Accounts Payable processing. Do not be fooled by PDF imitations of eInvoices. These cause indigestion in buyers’ systems. The result is an unpleasant delay before payment.
eInvoicing today is much faster than its predecessors: it sporns faster from a sales order, travels faster to the buyer and has set new world records for time and cost savings not just for the eInvoice issuer but for the recipient too. The time savings involved in eInvoicing equate to cost reductions for both supplier and buyer. The savings are so remarkable, they have prompted the EU, the UK and countless other countries’ governments to formalise, in law, the requirement for public sector bodies to receive invoices electronically. In April 2019, the EU Directive, replicated by the UK post-Brexit, made clear that £billions could be saved through public sector adoption of eInvoicing. The EU estimated the minimum saving to be 1-2% of an organisation’s annual turnover. The Olympic sport of eInvoicing is having a positive effect on the global economy.
In 2014, government advice stated the average cost of processing a paper invoice in the public sector was £13.98. Compare this to £4.77 to process an invoice digitally. A compelling case. It is for this reason that public sector bodies around the world now insist on a pure diet of digital, not just electronic invoices. The species commonly known as the paper invoice is likely to become extinct in the Western hemisphere. It has a place in museums but will no longer be a justifiable part of a viable business.
If you are still using any proportion of paper invoicing, we can help you by taking on the last remnants of your antiquated processes while helping you and your buyers progress to the more satisfying, trackable, audit friendly and efficient methods of einvoicing based on EDI and self-service portals.
We would love to help. It is our pleasure to help commercial enterprises achieve gold medal standards in accounting and credit management practice, such that their colleagues are rightly proud of them.