Spoiler alert – a quantum leap is about to happen in e-invoicing

Spoiler alert – a quantum leap is about to happen in e-invoicing

Posted by Pete Loughlin in AP Automation, e-invoicing, Electronic Invoicing 02 Mar 2012

For electronic invoicing, the days of 60% adoption, even 70%, 80% or 90% adoption, are over. From now on 100% is no longer just an aspiration.

There have always been some fairly big barriers to 100% adoption by suppliers

  • Multiple format requests
  • Unsophisticated technology
  • Low invoice volumes that don’t justify the effort
  • Local tax rules

Purchasing Insight logoThe last one is not usual a real obstacle but it can mean that a paper process has to run in parallel but the other problems are real and have a single root cause. The single root cause is that most organizations have a single approach to e-invoicing – a “pure” e-invoicing approach like a Basware or an OB10 approach. Whichever it is, it comes at a cost to the supplier. The cost isn’t always great, indeed it may be free, but there will always be a cost in terms of time or duplication of effort. But there is another approach that can overcome these objections and an approach that is gaining some traction.

The hybrid approach to e-invoicing

Scanning and OCR isn’t e-invoicing or at least it wasn’t. It got misused as a means of ticking the e-business box a few years ago. It achieved nothing and was rightly, at least as far as e-invoicing is concerned, consigned to the waste bin. Until recently.

Technology has moved on and it’s now possible to scan and interpret documents with a high degree of fidelity. There’s no need to prepare templates for each type of documents and the output is ERP-ready data – not just an image. Whether you want to call this approach “e-invoicing” is purely academic. It delivers you the data you want.  By adopting both a standards or proprietary based approach to e-invoicing together with a scan and data capture approach for those suppliers that prefer to send paper, much higher levels of adoption can be achieved.

But there is a problem.

The intelligent data capture approach still requires some investment. It still needs some hardware and integration and importantly, it still needs people. It needs people because although scanning technology is now clever enough to find the data it’s looking for regardless of the format of the invoice, printed documents are never perfect and a visual scan to verify the data captured is still required.

Sure, fewer people are required to review scanned images that to manually process the paper – it’s still a good approach – but now there is another way of implementing the hybrid approach which could change things dramatically.

We promised a spoiler. Sorry,  you’ll have to wait until Monday.

Post a comment