Author: Pete Loughlin

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.

Historically, the lack of interoperability amongst service providers has been blamed for the slow adoption of e-invoicing. Without agreements in place amongst competitive networks, suppliers are forced to double up on network membership fees negating many of the potential benefits. But the tide is turning and today two of the biggest networks in Europe have announced an interoperability arrangement that will hopefully further accelerate the acceptance of e-invoicing as a de facto B2B transaction method.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Financial Services Center (VAFSC) in the US has just become the latest government entity to mandate the use of electronic invoicing supporting the Improper Payment Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act signed by President Obama in January this year. Analysts and observers interested in e-invoicing have for some time been taking a close interest in developments in Latin America. Despite being relatively late into e-invoicing, the adoption rates in Mexico and Brazil are extremely high because governments have mandated its use. They’re mandating e-invoices because it allows the authorities more effectively to control and manage the collection of taxes.

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]