The humble invoice. The backbone of commerce is going to evolve into a paperless, intangible process and will be synonymous with the zeros and ones of the computing world.
In the past, CFO’s would be aghast at the very thought of changing the invoice and potentially putting at risk the revenue of the company. Such was the belief that the security of a paper invoice was all encompassing as it was manually created by a trusted individual, printed and posted to the recipient.
However, the advancement of ERP’s has made light of this as the invoice was an end result of the order being processed in the ERP system and so no one had to create the invoice any longer. Therefore, the CFO relaxed a little as IT systems were developing trust and savings were made as the invoice could be emailed as a PDF version to customers – in its time emailing a PDF version was believed to be electronic, but as happened in the Nordic countries the PDF version will no longer be acceptable to send or receive and so as a result of legislation, the Nordic market matured into true e-invoicing. In Europe, the Nordic countries have led the way as pioneers in adopting e-invoicing and the other countries are now playing catch up and introducing legislation to enforce adoption.
Driven by EU legislation the situation is evolving again and is instructing that the invoice be kept in the format of data, such as the PEPPOLBIZ format; to be transmitted to the recipient and to be received as a true electronic document. The goal is the automation of business documents (such as orders and invoices) and to enable e-procurement as a standard way of procuring services from the public sector. Additionally, the goal is to secure and protect the data integrity and to ensure that both sender and receiver are compliant to local legislation and VAT regulations, thus helping to eliminate errors, create efficiencies, to reduce costs and to prevent fraud.
The UK has recently published a prior information notice for PEPPOL Access Point services which will allow PEPPOL Access Point providers to have the opportunity to offer a comprehensive service to NHS, UK Central Government departments and the wider Public Sector, including SMEs and new market entrants, to enable customers to send electronic purchase orders and receive e-invoices, through PEPPOL compliant Access Points.
Why is this important? By stating that this is for the “NHS, UK Central Government departments and the wider Public Sector” it means that businesses that wish to trade (B2G) within the Public Sector will have to comply and as a result this will propagate out to B2B over a short period of time. The image demonstrates an expectation that PEPPOL will develop a network of connected businesses that will drive efficiency and savings across the UK and help to reduce the cost burden on the public sector.
Will my company benefit? The “Billentis Market Report 2015” reports that the monetary savings are huge for invoice senders and invoice recipients.
Recipients can potentially save 11.20€ per invoice received and senders can save 6.60€ per invoice issued. Clearly this is a huge number and if you consider the efficiency savings, CO2 savings, etc., this can lead to a seismic shift in the processing of business documents as experienced in countries that have already implemented e-invoicing. The images below are extracts from the Billentis Market Report and are available at their website www.billentis.com
The Environmental Effect. There is also a huge opportunity to reduce the use of paper and this will have a profound effect on the environment and will contribute to the sustainability programs that businesses are embarking on. As you can see from the image below, if you remove the need for paper, you remove the supply chain and the enormous effort it takes to create the humble piece of paper that we all take for granted today.
**Note that the removal of Paper will contribute to CO2 Reduction targets**
Selecting an Access Point Service Provider
For businesses that have no service today and will want to adopt a service that suits their needs, they will require a service that complies with PEPPOL. The chosen service should also be able to reach beyond PEPPOL so that B2B can coexist and provide a much higher benefit for the business.
Pagero have achieved “Best Practice” status in PEPPOL and are passionate about creating the business network for all types of businesses, regardless of size and ERP system. As we continue to grow, we make sure that our customers are compliant with local regulations regarding VAT and archiving and with our extensive network of 750,000 business connected, in 42 countries, either directly or via our operating agreements with over 80 partners worldwide, you can be assured of our reach.
PEPPOL was run by the European Commission up until August 2012. Since 1 September 2012, PEPPOL has been administered by the non-profit organization OpenPEPPOL, which works to develop the standards and specifications defined by PEPPOL. OpenPEPPOL is composed of about hundred members representing both the public and private sectors in Europe. Pagero is a member of Open PEPPOL, and we are active participants in the development of the network from both a technical and a user perspective.