EU Commission

The European Commission is seeking input from interested parties on interoperability between electronic invoice service providers. (Look here for more information on how to contribute.) This issue has implications that are much wider than the European Union. As businesses and governments increasingly adopt e-invoicing for a range of reasons, the debate will reverberate globally. Given a cursory glance, interoperability has distinct advanges. But take a closer look at the business issues and it’s not so obvious. Here, I want to present an argument for interoperability and in a following piece, I’ll present an argument against. If you have strong views on either side of the debate, leave a comment.

The European Commission has declared some ambitious targets for e-procurement. They reckon that €2 trillion can be saved and they intend to get government organisations using purchase to pay best practice to deliver these savings by 2016. These targets are of course way too ambitious. What’s more, the Commission is going about it in completely the wrong way. They may be ambitious and their methods may not be perfect but I’m impressed and delighted at what they're doing.

The first golden rule of business: "Thou shalt not committee". Decisions made by committee are compromises - almost by definition and in an attempt to satisfy everyone, no one is satisfied. Democracy is overrated. This is how the EU Commission does things, or at least it appears how to do things. We see it all the time. Discussions about e-invoicing standards and interoperability - recommendations to industry made by a mixture of biased vendors and the independent, self-appointed Messiahs of e-business. It's no wonder the rest of us look on in dismay at some of the misguided nonsense that emerges. And the timing? Decisions made by committee take an age. By the time decisions are made the world has changed and it’s back to square one. But it's not always like that