The Future of the Paper Invoice?

November 21st, 2011

As e-invoicing increases its stronghold are you prepared for the future of 21st century Invoicing?

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Vice President of Operations and CTO at SafeSourcing.

A few weeks ago, in a move to support the President’s “Campaign to Cut Waste” initiative, the U.S. Department of Treasury mandated that a new Internet Payment Platform will be up and running in 2012 all commercial vendors being required to submit their invoices electronically in 2013.  This trend is being mirrored by companies all over the world as the cost of generating and mailing paper invoices increases at an alarming rate. 

Today we will look at some of the factors to keep in mind when considering your own plans to migrate away from paper invoices and toward an electronic platform.

One solution or two – The first thing that the business needs to do is determine the scope of the transition they plan to make.  The obvious first step is to examine the invoices you send out because of the internal costs associated with generating and mailing them.  Other companies may also have new corporate initiatives to become more “green” and choose to incorporate the invoices they receive into the e-invoicing project right from the start.  Whether you keep these two pieces apart or together finding a solution provider that can handle them both is an important first step. 

Develop a transition plan – Once the scope of your project has been established, the transition plan the business can feel comfortable with must be developed.  Invoicing is such a sensitive process for businesses and the way the process is modified, for any reason, is one which has great importance at the executive levels.  The majority of successful transitions to electronic invoices include plans to gradually phase out the paper statements a portion at a time.  Whether that is 20% per quarter, 10% per month, or some other method, the transition plan will be as important as the tools you choose to implement.  An additional piece to this step will also be to determine a total compliance level that the business is willing to accept as some customers and vendors may not be able to handle an electronic invoicing process.

Communication with customers and vendors – As with any change that involves an embracing of technological processes and equipment, the transition to e-invoicing needs to be communicated to your customers and vendors clearly and with a well-defined timeline for what the transition means to them.  It will be important that all customers and vendors understand the reasoning behind your transition and that it will be a move they will eventually need to make.  The recommended first step would be communicate the plan and determine which of your customers and vendors that are willing to voluntarily make the move to electronic invoices immediately.  After these are moved it will be time to implement the transition plan for the remainder of the group that you have set as a result of the step above.    

For more information on finding the right solution partners to assist you with your transition to e-invoicing, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

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