Electronic invoicing (e-Invoicing) is the exchange of the invoice document between a supplier and a buyer, in an integrated electronic format. Traditionally, invoicing, like any heavily paper-based process, is manually intensive and is prone to human error, resulting in increased costs and processing lifecycles for companies.
e-Invoicing is a common B2B practise and has been part of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) transactions for many years. The issue of compliance seems to have separated e-Invoicing from B2B. Perhaps surprisingly,many decision makers are unaware that their company is already sending/receiving EDI electronic invoices.
The true definition of an electronic invoice, is that it should contain data from the supplier in a format that can be entered (integrated) into the buyer’s Account Payable (AP) system, without requiring any data input from the buyer’s AP administrator.
As this allows for a number of formats to be employed, it is useful to apply the following guidelines:
‘A TRUE e-Invoice’
- Structured invoice data issued in Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) or XML formats;
- Structured invoice data issued using standard Internet-based web forms.
‘NOT a true e-Invoice’
- Unstructured invoice data issued in PDF or Word formats;
- Paper invoices sent via fax machines;
- Scanned paper invoices.
Although significant cost and time savings can be achieved by removing paper and manual processing from your invoicing, the real benefits of e-Invoicing come with the level of integration between you and your trading partners, and between your invoicing software and other business systems.
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