e-Invoicing is no Longer Enough!
e-invoicing Trends, Digitalization, E-invoicing
After reading the Billentis report on e-invoicing, I’m disappointed. Not with the report, but with the sluggish growth of e-invoicing. Why have so few companies switched over?
I’ll admit, I didn’t read the full report but then again, I don’t think it’s meant to be a cover-to-cover read. I’ve been a fan of Bruno Koch’s for a few years now. I’ve enjoyed his reports (I do believe they are the de-facto go-to source for all things e-invoicing) over a period of years. He and I have chatted more than a few times and I’ve been lucky enough to have interviewed him multiple times as well. It probably would come as no surprise to him that I’m a little disappointed. Not with the report, but with the incremental (some might say sluggish) growth of e-invoicing.
We’ve had the mandates for years now. We’ve had the business case too. We know as it has been proven countless times that e-invoicing is a win-win for both the sender and the receiver. We know the costs are coming down. We even know the issues with regards to networks are opening up – so why doesn’t everyone care more? Why (I must lead a dull life as I literally have asked myself this in a quiet moment), why I say, hasn’t every company switched over? It doesn’t make sense to me.
The tech is there – from a multitude of reputable sources. It even includes print and scan & capture in many cases, thereby covering your need to send or receive paper invoices where required. I just don’t get it – or I didn’t until I had this thought. E-Invoicing is a technical improvement to a physical (and operational) process. Also, e-invoicing is most often described as a cost-saver, or more efficient, or enabling faster invoice processing – all true to be sure. But what’s missing is cash. Cash management, working capital optimization, cash flow forecasting, etc. – these are topics which keep a CFO up at night. Currency exposure, supply chain risk mitigation, growth and profitability – THESE are the topics I think need to be connected to e-invoicing (as they surely can be).
If we can see a red line drawn through the key priorities of the CFO and a small tech solution like e-invoicing – then I think we would see some top-down push. For the EU, the motivation to mandate B2G e-invoicing seems to focus on cost savings. For the Brazilians, their focus was fraud prevention around tax avoidance, but I think the Americans got it right. The USA is mandating B2G e-invoicing because they think e-invoicing will speed up cash flows and that alone will promote growth. Everything I’ve read leads me to agree with the American premise.
Now, in this quiet moment, as I write this blog post, I begin to wonder if we can’t do better. Better than simply sending and receiving e-invoices quickly. Paying invoices quickly obviously helps too but the visibility across purchase to pay is where I’m going with this. I think process efficiency (with e-invoicing) is no longer enough. I think supplier networks aren’t enough either. I think the future best-in-class organizations will be measured exclusively on how effectively they leverage cash management visibility within their relative buyer-supplier-bank ecosystems. Draw a red line through this and I think you have something powerful.
Maybe that was a bit of a rant but sometimes a small amount of catharsis is required.
Rowan Lemley has over 10 years of experience in the purchase-to-pay arena. During that time, he has lead product marketing for AP Automation, B2B networks, and most recently eProcurement and Product Information Management solutions.
Read more blog posts about Digitalization
The struggle to create a ‘digital business’ and why we fail
22 - 01 - 2019
According to recent reporting, most CFO/CIOs are on the path of digital transformation - but the majority fail to achieve their ambitions. Why?
Accounts Payable Automation - the value of a business network
31 - 12 - 2018
So you’ve decided to digitally transform your accounts payable function with the goal of improving control, visibility and efficiency.
The Business Case for Invoice Automation
27 - 12 - 2018
The business case for Accounts Payable automation is fairly straightforward but there is some nuance to consider as you begin planning your digital transformation project.
Other content you might be interested in:
E-invoicing trends and standards - with Bruno Koch
on demandIn this webinar we will have a conversation with Bruno Koch of Billentis. Join to hear the latest e-invoicing trends and be prepared for the future.
Billentis market report 2016
According to the global market research report on e-invoicing published by Billentis, a new era of digitization and automation lies ahead.