15 Aug 2013 e-invoicing best practice – lessons from a decade
It depends how you interpret e-invoicing. In its EDI guise it’s been around for over 20 years but its modern incarnation, XML data transported over the internet, grew out of the dot com boom of the late 1990s so which ever way you look at it, e-invoicing has been around for more than a decade. And we’re now moving into a new era. Its take up has grown to an astonishing level partly due to mandates in various parts of the world and partly because, frankly, it’s a no-brainer.
When a technology is new and untested, there is a natural and pragmatic suspicion that prevents widespread adoption. We have, collectively, had over a decade to understand how to get it right. For established electronic invoice programs, they have had time to iterate and refine and for those just embarking on the e-invoice journey, there are well-established paths to follow. There is no need to create methodologies from scratch, no need to reinvent the wheel. Even the business case is simple because it can be based on others’ experience, not some theoretical savings exercise. The latecomers have got it easy and that’s great for everyone.
So where can you access sources of best practice? How can you get at the experience of the last decade or so? You can get it from consultancy firms but some of the best sources are the vendors. In the early days, the only information you’d get from a vendor was the carefully filtered client case studies – the success stories – polished and doctored to show them in a good light – full of clichéd truisms like “sponsorship from the top is crucial” and “gaining buy-in from finance and procurement is essential”. Well it might seem obvious now but it wasn’t then. Nowadays though, vendors know that their market is more savvy. Making available honest case studies, methodologies and best practice is no longer seen as giving away the family silver – rather, it’s adding value to the marketplace and it’s rewarded with brand respect and recognition.
Some of the best material I’ve seen is from OB10 who have had longer than most to develop their version of best practice and they’ll soon be making their Supplier Engagement Handbook available to download. It’s a guide to success in e-invoicing implementation and we’ll be sharing some of it content on Purchasing Insight.
Over the coming weeks we’ll publish an abridged version of the handbook in the form of a short series of blog posts. Written for buying organizations, it’s a summary of how to engage with suppliers to gain the greatest return from an e-invoicing project.
Whether you are a seasoned e-invoicer looking to squeeze further benefit from your program or you are at the early stages of a project, you should get a great deal out of these articles and, if the bite sized editions leave you wanting more, we’ll show you where you can download the full version.
Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin