AP Automation

When you see an organization, a community or a country embracing rapid change, it can make you realize how hesitant we can be to adopt new ideas. That is certainly the impression I am always left with when I, as a Brit, visit the United States. it can be confusing. Most of us are happy to embrace modernity - we just don't put new ideas into practice. We're sold on new ways of doing almost everything but, as I realized on a recent visit to the USA, resisting change is less about reluctance to embrace the new and more about learning to discard the old. Purchasing Insight logo in Time Square  

No, it's not a Las Vegas magic act. ZUGFeRD is a PDF invoice standard developed by a consortium of players including the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and the Federal Ministry of the Interior specifically to support the use of electronic invoices amongst SMEs. The standard will help more small-to-medium-sized enterprises benefit from electronic invoicing by sharing structured invoice data within a PDF invoice. ZUGFeRD ensures the file complies with legal requirements, and can be easily read and processed without manual intervention. A PDF invoice alone is as prone to errors and compliance failures as a paper invoice.

Small business can be forgiven. When you start a business you want to get it right and there isn't always the time to understand why you do all things you do. You need a website. Why? Because you do. And a twitter account and a Facebook page.  And you need an office and a store with a shop window display and an accountant and letter-headed paper and business cards. Still don't quite know why but better safe than sorry. Big business should know better but despite having years of experience, industry expertise, resource and time to deliberate on what really makes sense for their business, many continue pointless practices and, in many cases, they don't even know why they do them. These are my top 4 pointless business practices

New York - the lights, the excitement, the glamor, the Post Office. A compelling argument for electronic invoicing. [caption id="attachment_7294" align="aligncenter" width="540"]This Post Office in the heart of Manhattan is open for business This Post Office in the heart of Manhattan - one of the busiest and commercially vibrant cities in the world - is open for business. I stood in line for 45 minutes to buy a stamp.[/caption]

In the fast moving space that is e-invoicing, like many other areas of business, the impressive announcements of vendors can become tiresome. Claiming customers that everyone claims - promises of new approaches and ludicrous claims about the use of bleeding edge technology that turn out to be no more than smoke and mirrors. Tradeshift's announcement of a partnership with Intuit was genuinely impressive but it's not till you hear the other side of the story - the Intuit version of events - that you get to see what the true significance is.

How much does it cost to implement purchase to pay best practice? Having spoken to many senior finance and procurement people, I get the impression that many of them think more about how much they can save by ignoring it. Sure, they value the basics but the whole nine yards is seen as an expensive luxury. So how much does best practice cost to implement? How long is a piece of string? It depends of course on the size and scale of the organization and it may be better to ask an alternative question: How much does it cost not to implement best practice? There’s some really interesting research that’s just been published by OB10 that can help answer that question.

I often recall the image of the Dickensian bookkeeper when I look at an AP department. In the 19th century, ledgers were hand written with quill and ink, sometimes in triplicate, which meant doing the same things, literally, again and again. Today, we still have pieces of paper to record the details of a business transaction. In an age when we can trade coffee, oil and pork bellies in the blink of an eye - in an age when even pre-school kids are computer literate - what place is there for paper?