I get frustrated at the debates on e-invoicing. The ones that go on and on endlessly about which is the right standard to employ. What is and is not an electronic invoice? Who knows best about what to deploy where? My digital certificate is bigger than your digital certificate.

Purchasing Insight logoIt’s a common problem. The MBA meets the propeller-head. Both intelligent, passionate, able people. The MBA knows a thing or two about business and is a technology enthusiast. The propeller-head know more than most about coding and is a secret day trader. The perfect combination for a technology inspired solution. What could possibly go wrong with these two?

Beware of geeks bearing gifs

I remember in the early days of e-business, I was working with an insurance company and we were developing an online insurance application form. I recall clearly the developer showing me the submit button. “And look at this, when you press submit – the button catches fire. Look – animated flames”. Animated gifs – very 1995 – but please – we’re trying to sell household insurance!

And it’s the same with modern day business solutions. OK, the geeks are a bit more business savvy and the business people more eager to embrace new technology but we need to understand what we’re trying to do.

e-invoicing isn’t about making everyting “e”. It’s about automating business processes. When someone tells you you need a OIOXML compliant invoice – that’s the 2011 equivalent of making your submit button catch fire.

e-invoicing is a means to an end. It is just one way of automating a business function. Whether you use an OIOXML invoice, an EDI invoice or you scan a paper invoice – if you can automate your AP process you’re solving the problem. The problem being, today we’re using 19th century methods to manage 21st century businesses.