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Take the most sustainable responsible road to e-invoicing

From 2005 till 2013 Governments, Service & Solution providers, Institutions, ALL have been heavily promoting electronic invoicing but until now the massive shift of businesses to electronic (digital) invoices yet has to come.

I have been watching this, participating in CEN workshops and developing my own ideas, but have always been wondering why do people lack the vision that e-invoicing solely is not delivering the desired savings.

I started implementing EDI in 1994 when people dropped an EDI word station next to my desk and said get it running. We implemented electronic business - instead of electronic invoicing - and we gained our share of savings.

What should you do for Electronic Business?

Classify your products using one of these standards UNSPSC, ETIM, NAICS, ...

Assign each of your products a unique product identification code using GS1 GTIN or NSN.

Assign your locations a unique identification code using GS1 GLN or D&B D-U-N-S Number.

Exchange your product data and prices via the services of GS1 GDSN, ETIM 2BA or EZ-base.

Note: A new datapool is under development. A few months ago I wrote this article: "the future of data exchange in the construction and installation sector" showing two scenario's for dealing with different product databases. Hopefully the people working on the new datapool spent some time on reading the article.

Exchange purchase orders, confirmations and shipment notifications electronically using EDIFACT, ANSI X12, UBL or any other language.

Finally exchange invoices electronically. But be aware the invoice is not the future. More and more companies are implementing SELF-BILLING. The customer already knows upfront what has to be paid and has an obligation to pay once goods are received. Thus can easily do the payment without an invoice and raise a self-bill.

Paper, PDF, Spreadsheets, Online are still the foundation for businesses

Today there are still a lot of companies that exchange information via emails, faxes, paper documents by mail, or using a web portal. A lot of manual work takes place before goods are ordered, delivered and invoiced.

How do we implement electronic invoicing in a sustainable responsible way?

First step:

Implement the GS1 GTIN for identification of your products and one of the aforementioned classification methods that is used within your branch or sector.

Subscribe to GS1 GDSN or ETIM 2BA to publish or retrieve product, price and classification data.

Second step:

Start exchanging purchase orders and confirmations electronically using one of the aforementioned standards.

You will then no longer have to manually handle orders and confirmations. It will eliminate typing errors and speed up processing time.

Less processing time and higher accuracy means money.

Today you will still have to find a service provider that handles the exchange of information between companies.

I hope one day there will be an Electronic Business Highway where everyone can hook onto with or without a service provider. In my vision on electronic invoicing from 2009 (“a glimp into the future of e-invoicing”) I explained that multiple connected platforms will increase the reach of receivers and senders all over the world.

Yep, 2009 still nobody seems to take this serious but eventually it will happen.

The PEPPOL project (= Pan-European Public Procurement Online) of the European Commission is creating such a highway for exchanging information with governmental organizations. Until it opens for businesses we are living in the battle of commerce, service providers fighting for a piece of the cake.

Nevertheless hook onto one of these service providers, tell him which standards to use and work together with your business partners to make it happen.

Daarom, sluit aan op het netwerk van één van deze dienstverleners, vertel hem welke standaarden te gebruiken en werk samen met uw zakelijke partners om het mogelijk te maken.

Third step:

Start exchanging shipment notifications. Customers will then be aware that goods for certain purchase orders are on the way and can be delivered to their own clients or transported to production. When shipment data is pre-processed then scanning devices will help, upon unloading the trucks, identify where pallets need to go - to the stocking location, production location or the cross-docking location.

Less processing time, higher accuracy and efficiency means money.

Fourth step:

Now finally you can implement electronic invoicing - if that is still needed, since customers might have started using self-billing.

The receiver of the e-invoice will significantly benefit from automatically processing the invoice. However this could not be possible if product data, customer locations, prices and other data (payment terms, delivery terms, unit of measures) were not tuned with business partners during the implementation of electronic ordering and shipping.

Tags: e-Invoicing, e-Business

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