Industry experts are increasingly calling for an e-invoicing mandate. In the USA as well as Europe, disappointing adoption rates over the last decade look rather embarrassing when compared to the dramatic success in Latin America where the use of electronic invoices for many businesses is not optional. But while a mandate could be seen as enforcing common sense, could there be some unintended consequences that will actually mean that mandating e-invoicing will be counter productive?
Free to suppliers is no longer a big deal in the world of electronic invoicing. It was the headline feature that brought Tradeshift to everyone's attention 3 years ago and it's stood them in good stead. I never considered free to suppliers to be especially disruptive as Tradeshift claimed. It was a unique proposition but now that USP has run out of steam and there's a new new kid on the block threatening to eat Tradeshift's lunch. But Tradeshift have something else up their sleeve and this time, I think it really is disruptive.
[caption id="attachment_7544" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Copenhagen - spiritual home of Tradeshift[/caption]
There are a few things that make Stephen McPartland unusual. He's a scouse Tory (trust me - it's unusual) who writes for the Morning Star campaigning about corporate tax avoidance (and you thought a scouse Tory was unusual) and, on top of that, he gets e-business. That's right - a politician that understand e-business. Now that is unusual!
I went to the House of Parliament in London to speak with Stephen about why he believes now is the time for the UK to act on e-invoicing.
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.
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.
Jason Busch is Spend Matters. He started Spend Matters almost 10 years ago and has grown it into what is arguably the best online resource for purchasing professionals. I met him a couple of weeks ago at the Tradeshift analyst day together with Pierre Mitchell...