Author: Pete Loughlin

A new professional association born of the roll-up of four existing groups was unveiled yesterday at its annual conference and trade show: Fusion 2011, taking place this week in Orlando. The Institute of Financial Operations is the coalition of International Accounts Payable Professionals (IAPP), International Accounts Receivable Professionals (IARP), the National Association of Purchasing & Payables (NAPP), and The Association for Work Process Improvement (TAWPI).

The spotlight has fallen on the paper invoice as an entirely unnecessary source of green house gases in recent years and the rapid evolution of the regulations in many parts of the world is removing the barriers to change to electronic invoicing. But the paper invoice is only part of the story and it seems that the purchase to pay function is one of the worst culprits when it comes to the unnecessary use of paper.

I'm one of the worst culprits and I hate myself for it. Finding yourself wrapping up in pretentious management consultant speak is an occupational hazard. I wouldn't talk about "leveraging my core competencies" or "disintermediating my financial supply chain" in an informal conversation with friends and family. And it would raise an eyebrow at home, to say the least, if I mentioned that we'd been "sweating our assets" at work. So why do I do it?

When is an e-invoice not an e-invoice? 10 years ago it was simple. It was clear that a "true" or "pure" electronic invoice was a structured computer-to-computer message. The supplier's computer would send an invoice message in a format that the customer's computer could read. An email with a Word document or an excel file attached was not an electronic invoice and worse, a pdf image of a paper invoice was nowhere near an e-invoice. These were superficial attempts to tick the e-invoicing box. They weren't true electronic invoices. But in recent years the line between what is and what is not an e-invoice has become blurred and the "purity" of the "true" electronic invoice is becoming it's own worst enemy.

The world of commerce is all about the numbers. Top line, bottom line, FTEs, KPIs and ROI but, to borrow and paraphrase the words of the great Albert Einstein - not everything that counts can be counted. Royal WeddingIn London today - the streets are filled with people from all over the world - from the United States, from Germany, Australia and New Zealand, Canada and Brazil as well as all corners of the British Isles - all coming together to celebrate the wedding of a young couple. It's an unparalleled media event - The Mall is swarming with news readers, surrounded by revelers, somehow maintaining a degree of dignity as they report to the folks back home the party atmosphere. Good Morning America broadcast live from London. The feel good factor is palpable. Even a miserable old git like me that hand on heart believes the monarchy to be an anachronism that's unlikely to survive long enough to see Charles on the throne never mind William, is prepared to put his cynicism to one side to celebrate a great day. We may be in the middle of a recession but even that can't dampen the enthusiasm of the crowds. And after the excitement settles down it will be back to the numbers. The impact on the British economy of having four public holidays in two weeks. The money spent on security and the cost of clearing up.