02 May 2011 Not everything that counts can be counted
Electronic invoicing can save millions. Manual process are inefficient. Errors create unnecessary work. In the 21st century, passing pieces of paper between organizations as a record of a routine business transaction is a modern day anachronism. It’s bizarre and a little embarrassing. So why is your organization doing it?
There are lots of reasons. For one, delivering significant business change is like climbing a mountain. It’s not actually something you can do in a day and it’s easy to procrastinate on the difficult things. This is never a good reason not to do anything but it is the main reason nevertheless.
Second, legislation. There is a perception that electronic invoices are not legally allowed in many countries. It is true that diverse interpretation of security requirements in the B2B electronic business world has led to complexity, but in most countries this objection hasn’t been real for some time and with the rules evolving all the time it is becoming less of an issue in most of the major economies of the world.
Thirdly, cost. To use an electronic invoicing network like OB10, Ariba, Basware costs lots of money apparently. So called “free” e-invoicing is developing traction in the market place but the cost objection is short sighted to say the least. Sure there may be a need for cost model to be shaken up a little and for the charges to be distributed more equitably between buyers and sellers, but the fact is that the cost of an electronic invoice is a dollar spent to save ten. It doesn’t cost anything – it saves money.
At the end of the day, these objections are all based on cost on one way or another – but not everything that counts can be counted. Stefan Foryszewski’s recent blog at OB10 illustrates it beautifully.
Paper invoices, like transportation, excessive use of fossil fuels or unnecessary use of non-sustainable resources, is environmentally irresponsible. Sure you have to get your business case across to your board but instead of worrying about how to explain why you need to do it to your CFO, think about how your going to explain to your children why you didn’t.