Maintaining e-Invoicing When Changing ERP Systems

By Marc Price | March 15, 2022
About Marc

ERP systems are an integral part of enterprise technical architecture.  However, as with any system, upgrades and changes may need to be applied.  In some cases, you may want to change the ERP system entirely – for instance, switching from one vendor’s platform to another.

With an ERP system underpinning so many business-critical processes, these changes can seem daunting and potentially disrupting.  However, maintaining your electronic invoicing, and associated accounts receivable processes, when moving from one ERP system to another is one area where help is at hand from service providers.

At Corcentric, we have helped a number of our clients maintain undisrupted invoicing to customers while they moved from one ERP system to another, or one version to another. One example is Doosan Bobcat, quoted below.  You can find out more in their case study here: Supply Chain Cash Flow Through Invoice Automation.

“Quality of service from Corcentric has been absolutely excellent. We have migrated our ERP twice in the last 5 years – from SAP to Oracle and then to updated version of Oracle. This presented many challenges, which were raised to the team at Corcentric, who managed to resolve these very quickly.”

Updating your ERP system to a new version

ERP system updates are sadly not quite as simple as approving an operating system update on your phone.    Moving from one version to the next can mean changes to the underlying data structure, as well as APIs which interface with other business systems.

In the simplest of cases, upgrades can have minimal impact on connected systems, but risk assessments and migration projects are there to ensure every detail is taken into account.   Given the essential role an ERP system plays in triggering invoices to be sent, there will be a need for initiatives to carefully assess the impact on this process for any upgrade.

Where any change is made to contact data in the ERP system, there needs to be a careful validation process before invoice automation, or any other real-time process, is resumed.

Moving from SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA

With many enterprises using SAP ERP, the news that this would no longer be supported past 2027 has forced them to consider an ERP system upgrade or migration in the near future.   Despite SAP softening this blow with talk of supporting their legacy ERP system for longer now, the prospect of change is on the agenda for many businesses.

The migration to SAP S/4HANA also requires a database migration, to capitalize on SAP’s proprietary in-memory HANA database.  This means businesses will need to remap customer data, including email addresses, settings, configurations, and credentials, so each customer retains the exact settings and experience they had before the ERP migration.

Sending e-invoices from your ERP system vs. a dedicated EIPP platform

ERP software often allows electronic format invoices to be sent directly from the platform.  However, the depth of invoicing functionality is normally a fraction of what can be achieved with a dedicated electronic invoicing platform.

ERP systems are well suited to initiating invoice delivery from dedicated electronic invoicing software. However, few ERP systems can provide the depth of template customization and invoice delivery rules that are the foundation of an EIPP platform.

Invoice data, including invoice number, can be created within the ERP system as an order is placed. This can then be connected in real-time or via batched exports to an e-invoicing system for more nuanced delivery, as well as providing customers with a portal to access PDF invoices, signed with digital signatures if needed.  Archives of previous invoices can be maintained on the invoicing platform, giving customers easy access to old invoices and statements, further streamlining the digitalization of the invoicing process.

By separating the business process of invoicing from the other business processes handled by the ERP system, greater control and customer experience is possible.  Furthermore, this provides a demarcation which allows electronic invoicing to be maintained while the underlying ERP system is changed – the central topic of this article.

Invoicing beyond an ERP System
Expand Your Invoicing Beyond the Limits of an ERP System
Invoicing Beyond an ERP System

Supporting B2B invoice formats and  e-invoicing standards

In order to minimize cash flow delays, business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) e-invoicing systems need to provide a workflow to deliver invoices in a range of invoice formats that comply with the e-invoicing standards required by their customers.

In recent years, tax authorities across the world have identified e-invoicing as a way to close the tax gap from unpaid VAT, as well as saving administration costs from an accounts payable processing perspective.

The EU e-invoicing mandate (Directive 2014/55/EU) for B2G transactions came into force in 2020 (check!) and requires invoices be delivered electronically, using XML or EDI (via the PEPPOL network).  Non-compliance simply isn’t an option for businesses wanting to sell to government agencies in the EU.

While e-invoicing modules exist for ERP systems, few provide the ability to seamlessly deliver invoices in the range of XML, EDI, PDF, and even paper invoicing formats required for successful B2B invoicing today.  You can find out more about how a dedicated Electronic Invoicing Presentment and Payment (EIPP) solution can go beyond the typical limits of an ERP system to meet these requirements in our white paper.

How Corcentric EIPP can maintain electronic invoicing as your ERP system changes

Corcentric’s EIPP solution is deployed as a managed service, meaning it provides accounts receivable teams with a modern user experience via a web-based interface coupled with an experienced team to ensure maximum performance and stability on an ongoing basis.

This managed service aspect of our EIPP solution can be used to support ERP system migration projects, with assistance in remapping customer data and testing this during ERP system changes.

The EIPP platform sits as a solution layer on top of your ERP system, using data export/import processes, rather than deep code-level integration with the ERP system.  This technical architecture enables the EIPP platform to be decoupled from one ERP system and connected to another, without missing a single invoice.

Documents and transaction history for each customer are stored on the EIPP platform, so once a new connection is made from the ERP system it is immediately available. No recoding is required to ensure compatibility with the new ERP system, so all focus can be placed on the data mapping to maintain a seamless customer experience.

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