Start saving the climate by using e-Invoicing !

While analysts and investors have always focused on the financial position of companies, today environmental aspects are becoming of greater interest and importance. Financial investors are increasingly assessing the contribution that environmental issues have on intangible corporate value, such as brand value, customer loyalty and retention, and corporate reputation.

With the growing attention for the principles of sustainability many companies started publishing their annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) achievements and/or include relevant environmental key performance indicators in their annual reports. Stakeholders want companies to disclose information about how they have performed in their value creation process, how they have maximized the value of their intangible assets and how they have / will contribute to the environmental theme of climate change.

Studies of several Research Organizations and Institutions in the past years show the environmental impact of switching from paper-based invoicing to electronic invoicing is high. One way for companies to present their commitment to the preservation of the natural environment is by implementing electronic means of doing business such as electronic invoicing and procurement.

A recent study (April 2010) of TNO - the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research - reveals that paper invoicing has an energy consumption that is almost twice as much and a CO2 emission approximately 1.5 times higher as for digital invoicing. TNO investigated the direct and indirect effects of dematerialization on the usage of energy and the emission of CO2.

To most of us the concept of dematerialization is ‘Less clear than it seems’ and that is precisely the title of a thematic exploration study executed for the Dutch Ministry of VROM (Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment) in September 2000 (published in January 2001). The authors of the document sided with the view that ‘the aim of dematerialization is the reduction of environmental impact of material flows’ and provided a number of definitions, visions and policy suggestions. Their dematerialization policy is aimed towards influencing the development of economic systems in such a way that the environmental impact of the material flow caused by those systems is significantly, and in absolute terms, reduced.

TNO calculated that ten million electronic invoices sent by businesses to governments (B2G) amount to energy savings of 3TJ (terajoule) and almost 200 tonne (tonne) CO2. In their report ‘Energie- en CO2-besparing door elektronisch factureren’ they concluded that switching to digital invoicing for all invoicing types (B2G, B2B and B2C) would result into energy savings of approximately 1PJ (petajoule) and a CO2 emission savings of almost 70 Kt (kilotonne).

In a similar study from 2008 by the Department of Environmental Strategies Research at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, the whole paper invoice life cycle was assessed from the forestry up to and including the recycling of the paper after the legal archive period. In the report ‘Effects of the total change from paper invoicing to electronic invoicing in Sweden’ the authors present their Life Cycle Assessment approach and the results of their analysis.

The study examined the consequences of changing 1,4 billion invoices from distribution on paper to electronic distribution and concluded that this change would be beneficial. If all invoices in Sweden were to be changed from paper to electronic, a total energy saving of around 1.400 TJ-equivalents/year and reductions of greenhouse gas emissions corresponding to 39.000 to 41.000 tonne CO2-equivalents/year would be made.

A study of Methis Environmental in Belgium shows that a saving of 15.000 tonne paper and a reduction of CO2 emission between 24.500 - 33.000 tonne can be achieved by using e-Invoicing instead of printed invoices. Their calculation takes as average 900 millions of invoices printed by year and a use of 50 % recycled paper.

Before the environmental benefits will become visible to everyone a serious uptake of electronic invoicing in Europe is needed. In 2009 the number of businesses using electronic invoicing was 1,4 million and the total volume of processed e-invoices in the B2B segment was 860 million (Source: DB Research & Billintis) . With over 490 million businesses in Europe and a total of 32 billion invoices the percentage of e-invoice users is only 0,2% and the percentage of e-invoices is just 2,7%.

With such low diffusion and penetration of electronic invoicing in Europe Social and Environmental Responsibility requirements can become a perfect instrument for motivating and stimulating decision-makers to start using electronic invoicing.

Tags: e-Invoicing

Last update: 27-11-2011

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SAP steaming up to become an all-round player in the cloud computing market

On 30 March 2010 SAP presented the availability of their on-demand, collaborative decision-making software called SAP StreamWork, formerly known as 12sprints. SAP StreamWork is transforming the way people work together, share information, make clear decisions and develop strategies.

Most businesses today use a range of applications, including e-mail, collaboration products, business systems and Web 2.0 applications to accomplish their work. In such chaotic and constantly changing work environments where information flows at an overwhelming pace it becomes hard to establish a clear decision-making foundation and get the proper results.

SAP addresses this challenge with SAP StreamWork, which brings together people, information and proven business methodologies to help teams naturally and fluidly work toward goals and outcomes. Teams can assess situations together, develop strategies and make clear decisions, with a full record of what transpired.

With customers looking for low-cost and easy-to consume pricing models that are flexible and can be altered to meet changing business needs, SAP is offering SAP StreamWork through a tiered subscription model that includes a free version.

To learn more about the functionality of SAP StreamWork visit the Tutorials section or watch the SAP StreamWork YouTube channel at YouTube SAP StreamWork.

Breaking down the barriers to adoption of Cloud Computing is not an easy task. It requires vision, years of technology innovation and the financial capabilities - the power - to transform vision into practice.

In the last few years SAP has worked hard to become an all-round Cloud Computing company, by acquiring and developing innovative Cloud-oriented technologies.

February 2009 - Acquisition of Coghead
On 19 February 2009, SAP acquired the intellectual property assets of Coghead, the next generation platform for building web applications.

Read more about Coghead on SAP Web 2.0 by Timo Elliot at SAP Cloud Platform.

May 2009 - Acquisition of Skydata
On 25 May 2009, SAP acquired the innovative start-up company Skydata, a new type of business mobile “Mashup” application provider, that enables fast and easy access to all enterprise business data on RIM, Windows Mobile and Apple iPhone devices.

Read more about SkyData on SAP Web 2.0 by Timo Elliot at SAP acquires Skydata for agility and mobility.

September 2009 - SAP Gravity
End of September 2009 SAP Research in Brisbane, Australia and SAP Netweaver Development presented SAP Gravity, a Business Processing Modeling Tool for Google Wave. SAP Gravity is a prototype providing real-time, cloud-based collaborative business process modeling within Google Wave.

Google Wave is Google’s new real-time collaboration platform that combines features of e-mail, social networking, wikis and instant messaging in one integrated browser-based client. Google Wave offers rich developer APIs to extend the core functionality with custom components.

SAP Gravity has been embedded as a Google Wave “gadget” that can be added within the Google Wave client. Leveraging the collaborative features of Google Wave, all business process modeling activities get propagated in near real-time to all other participants of the Wave. In addition, participants of the Wave can use all other features provided by Google and its developer community to enrich the collaborative modeling experience.

Read more about Gravity on SAP Web 2.0 by Timo Elliot at SAP Gravity Collaboration using Google Wave.

Meanwhile SAP is integrating the Gravity prototype into SAP StreamWork.

SAP Research RoofTop Marketplace
A new kind of Web-based application, known as Enterprise Mashups, has gained momentum in the last years: Business users with no or limited programming skills are empowered to leverage in a collaborative manner user friendly building blocks and to combine and reuse existing Web-based resources within minutes to new value added applications in order to solve an individual and ad-hoc business problem.

SAP Research St. Gallen in Switzerland build the SAP Research RoofTop Marketplace prototype as part of their participation in the European Framework Programme 7 project Fast Morfeo. FAST aims at providing an innovative visual programming environment that will facilitate the development of next-generation composite user interfaces. It constitutes a novel approach to application composition and business process definition from a top-down user-centric perspective.

The SAP Research RoofTop Marketplace prototype is a Web-based application based on AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) that demonstrates the power of Mashups and presents an intuitive environment to create Enterprise Mashups without any programming skills.

Read the paper Towards A Reference Model for Grassroots Enterprise Mashup Environments.

Read more about SAP Research Rooftop Marketplace on SAP Web 2.0 by Timo Elliot at SAP Innovation Enterprise Mashup prototype RoofTop Marketplace.

SAP launched the beta release of StreamWork in February 2010 under the codename 12Sprints and managed to attract the attention of some well-known providers of web-based on-demand solutions, such as Box.net, Evernote and Scribd. These companies teamed up with SAP and embraced the software’s open architecture. They established integration with their solutions within a few weeks time.

- Box.net
Box.net, based in Palo Alto, California, was founded on a simple, powerful idea: people should be able to access and share their content from anywhere.

The Box’s cloud content management platform makes it simple for businesses to share, access and manage content online. The integration with SAP StreamWork enables users to easily add their Box content, such as research reports, marketing and creative assets, or project plans to an SAP StreamWork activity, so that relevant content can be present in the decision-making process.

Additionally SAP StreamWork users can also create Box folders directly within SAP StreamWork and associate them with a specific activity.

The integration with SAP StreamWork demonstrates - is another example of - how the cloud continues to be a viable platform for businesses of all sizes, said Karen Appleton, vice president of business development at Box.net.

Most people will know Box.net from the LinkedIn Files application that enables LinkedIn users to:
* upload, organize and manage files to share with other members
* share documents, presentations, photos, videos and audio on their profile page
* send files stored on Box.net seamlessly with other users through LinkedIn messaging system
* collaborate and connect with LinkedIn members through project files and folders

Want to learn how to use Box.net on LinkedIn watch the YouTube video LinkedIn’s Box.net Application.

- Evernote.com
Evernote is an independent, privately held company headquartered in Mountain View, California.

The goal of Evernote is to give everyone the ability to easily capture any moment, idea, inspiration, or experience whenever they want using whichever device or platform they find most convenient, and then to make all of that information easy to find.

Evernote provides a multi-platform content capture and organization service, that works across the computers and phones people are using on a daily basis. Evernote is integrated into SAP StreamWork, allowing users to pull information from Evernote directly into an SAP StreamWork activity.

“Successful teamwork requires that all stakeholders easily share their thoughts and information in order to make the right decisions,” said Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote. “From collecting research to sharing ideas, every aspect of a project needs to be well handled to ensure the best results. Evernote and SAP StreamWork make this possible.

Evernote allows individuals to take notes, save research and capture ideas anywhere using their computers and phones. That content is then automatically sent into their SAP StreamWork projects, where team members can collaborate and use the data to inform their decisions. Together, Evernote and SAP StreamWork get users from idea to decision fast.”

- Scribd.com
Scribd is headquartered in San Francisco, California, and launched in 2007. Meanwhile Scribd became the largest social publishing and reading site in the world.

On Scribd, people can easily turn any file - such as PDF, Word and PowerPoint - into a web document and immediately connect with passionate readers and information-seekers on the thriving community, through connected sites such as Facebook or Twitter and search engines such as Google.

Scribd has contributed document reader technology to SAP StreamWork allowing users to read documents in formats such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel directly within the SAP StreamWork environment, without having to download or open the file in a new window. “Integrating Scribd technology into SAP StreamWork gives people access to all of the documentation they need to make informed decisions,” said Jared Friedman, CTO and co-founder, Scribd.

Read the news announcement SAP® StreamWork™ Helps Companies of All Sizes Transform the Way People Work on the website of SAP.

Tags: ERP, CRM, cloud computing, mashups

Last updated: 27-06-2010

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Is Europe in the ban of the VAT Directive simplification on e-Invoicing ?

[2014]Update on the adoption of the proposed changes of the VAT Directive:

On 16 April 2014 the European Commission published the Directive 2014/55/EU which states that Member States will have to implement e-invoicing at the latest by 27 November 2018

Reference(s):
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32014L0055

End Update

[2011]Update on the adoption of the proposed changes of the VAT Directive:

On 2 December 2010 the European Commission published their communication “Reaping the benefits of electronic invoicing for Europe” (COM(2010) 712 final) and their decision “Setting up the European Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Electronic Invoicing (e-invoicing)”(C(2010) 8467 final).

The Communication identifies a set of actions to support the uptake of e-invoicing by ensuring legal certainty and promoting the development of interoperable e-invoicing solutions based on a common standard, paying particular attention to the needs of SMEs. The Communication also invites the Member States to take action and promote e-invoicing at national level. All actions aim at making e-invoicing the predominant method of invoicing by 2020.

Reference(s):
2010/C 326/0 of 2 November 2010

COM(2010) 712 final of 2 December 2010

C(2010) 8467 final of 2 December 2010

On 13 July 2010 the Economic and Financial Affairs Council accepted the new revised VAT Directive 2010/45/EU amending the Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax as regards the rules on invoicing. Changes issued with the proposal COM/2009/0021 final - CNS 2009/0009 from 28 January 2009 were only for a small part taken over. The most important change proposed with COM/2009/21 on removing the article 233 has been rejected. However the rules for ensuring the authenticity of the origin and integrity of the content are now extended with the use of business controls as the primary way.

Each taxable person shall determine the way to ensure the authenticity of the origin, the integrity of the content and the legibility of the invoice. This may be achieved by any business controls which create a reliable audit trail between an invoice and a supply of goods or services.

Also a proper and clear definition of what is understood with the terms authenticity and integrity are presented.

‘Authenticity of the origin’ means the assurance of the identity of the supplier or the issuer of the invoice.

‘Integrity of the content’ means that the content required according to this Directive has not been altered.

Reference(s):
CNS/2009/0009 Procedure File

VAT Directive 2010/45/EU

End Update

The European Commission on 28 January 2009 adopted a proposal to change the VAT Directive 2006/112/EC (from 28 November 2006) with respect to invoicing rules. The main objectives are to reduce burden on business, increase the use of e-Invoicing, support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and help Member States tackle fraud.

The foundation of the proposal is based on “equal treatment of paper and electronic invoices” in a technology neutral way by removing the conditions for an Advanced Electronic Signature (AES) and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). The reasoning is that e-Invoicing is part of a larger process where every process step contributes to authenticity and integrity of the trade transaction.

Several Member States and Solution Providers believe these guarantees can only be provided by electronically signed e-invoices. Removing the requirement to guarantee the authenticity of origin and integrity of content by means of pre-defined technological solutions, such as EDI and Electronic Signatures, is therefore the most challenging from a political and governmental perspective for the coming years. It requires a “paradigm shift” in thinking about audit management processes and strategies by all parties involved, whether that be Tax Authorities, Solution Providers or Small, Medium-sized and Large Companies.

Since 2006 stakeholders in Europe have been working hard on developing measures and establishing procedures for simplifying, modernising and harmonising the VAT Invoicing Rules. All the reports of experts in the field, opinion statements and position papers issued by Federations, Associations, Member-Based Communities, Government Authorities and Public Administrations indicate that a majority of stakeholders supports the simplification of e-Invoicing by establishing equal treatment of paper and electronic invoices.

The Expert Group on e-Invoicing installed by the European Commission on 31 October 2007, tasked to propose a European e-Invoicing Framework (EEI Framework), has issued their Final Report on November 2009. The recommendations of the Expert Group and the reactions from stakeholders in Europe will be taken into account by the European Commission in developing its further position on e-Invoicing.

See the final report and the consultation document: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/newsroom/cf/itemshortdetail.cfm?lang=nl&item_id=3875

See the final report: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/consultations/docs/2009/e-invoicing/report_en.pdf

The Expert Group on e-Invoicing in their Final Report ascertain that there are two key issues:
- The present European landscape of e-invoicing legislation is disharmonised. The methods set out in Article 233 of Directive 2006/112/EC have been implemented in Member States’ national legislation in widely different ways. This leaves trading parties experiencing difficulties in finding the right degree of clarity and legal certainty to encourage adoption of e-Invoicing.

- Internal business controls did not receive appropriate attention in the current legislative framework and its implementation. This is unfortunate because such controls are essential to all invoicing processes and, for most, whose systems are mature and robustly auditable, can actually provide the necessary assurance and without creating technical and operational complexity.

Based on the principles of equal treatment between paper and electronic invoices, technology neutrality and internal business controls, the Expert Group issued their recommendations. With regard to article 233 they recommend that “No legislative or other requirements should be imposed on electronic invoices above those that exist for paper invoices today”.

They furthermore state that “The Commission’s January 2009 proposal for a new VAT Directive (COM(2009) 21 final), should be adopted by all Member States and transposed into national legislation. In particular the provisions of Articles 232–237 of the current Directive on the Common System of Value Added Tax (2006/112/EC) should be removed so as to shift from technology based requirements to requirements based on equal treatment, technology neutrality and internal business process controls”.

Additionally they state “In the short term, pending the adoption of the new VAT Directive, those Member States who have not yet done so, should be encouraged to implement the option of ‘other means’ as provided for in the current VAT directive (Directive 2006/112/EC) so as to enable the practical implementation of the Expert Group’s Code of Practice”.

Despite the efforts of all those people some stakeholders start raising their concerns on the recommendations of the Expert Group and on the measures announced by the European Commission. The contributions of these stakeholders in normalisation and standardisation committees aimed at crafting meaningful and long-term simplification and harmonisation of e-Invoicing have been intense and fruitful.

Although the European Commission has not yet decided on the final outcome of the Regulatory Requirements for Electronic Invoicing recent announcements of stakeholders are jeopardizing the viability and sustainability of the hard work done and the future position of e-Invoicing.

In my opinion Europe needs an intermediate state to overcome all the discussions and enable all stakeholders to leverage technological, functional and legal innovations in the domain of e-Invoicing, e-Archiving and e-Procurement. In that respect the best European leaders can do now is to reinstate Article 233 in the proposed VAT Directive and add to it as the first option the use of a Business Control and Tax Control Framework as extensively described in the CWA 16047 - CEN / ISSS eInvoicing Compliance Guidelines or CEN / Fiscalis e-Invoicing Good Practice Guidelines.

See first version:
http://www.epractice.eu/files/media/media2331.pdf

Latest version can be found on:
http://www.e-invoice-gateway.net/knowledgebase/documents/

The consultation on the Final Report of the Expert Group on e-Invoicing will definitely shed some lights on the visions and standpoints of the different parties.

Today [16 March 2010] the European Ministers of Finance apparently decided not to await the outcome of the consultation and during the ECOFIN Meeting adopted a revised version of the VAT Directive containing changes reinstating the article 233 adding to it the option of the Business and Tax Control Process Framework.

Looking at the evolution of Electronic Invoicing in Europe one can conclude a lot has happened since the European Commission started in 2001 with amending the regulatory requirements for Electronic Invoicing in Europe. In general almost all stakeholders called upon to support the principle of equal treatment of paper and e-invoicing on authenticity and integrity.

Let us have a look at the developments that took place in the past years:

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