Electronic invoicing has become a necessity for many businesses, with EU legislation driving uptake for public sector transactions, and countries such as Italy requiring e-invoices for all B2B transactions. COVID-19 lockdowns have introduced another complication for businesses that traditionally have sent paper invoices by post. Many invoices are being delivered to unstaffed mailrooms and, therefore, not getting processed as quickly as usual – impacting cash flow.
Globally, electronic invoicing was estimated to be growing at a rate of 16.2 percent, according to Research and Markets. It’s likely that 2021 will see this rate increase as lockdowns and remote working remain in place longer than anticipated.
On the face of it, this sounds like progress for business. Electronic invoicing means efficiency gains, automation, and improved accuracy, right?
Unfortunately, the reality is that some businesses still dedicate a considerable amount of time to electronic invoicing delivery, due to a specific set of pain points. Let’s take a look at five pain points and possible solutions.
Pain #1: Uploading invoices to accounts payable portals
As buyers embrace accounts payable efficiency gains from electronic invoice processing, there is a tendency to shift the workload of getting invoices into the right electronic format onto vendors and their accounts receivable teams.
Anyone who has had to log into a buyer’s accounts payable portal and upload invoices manually, copy-pasting item-by-item, will identify with this pain. This is not how e-invoicing is supposed to be!
Solution – Bypass the inefficiencies of manual invoice uploads through automated delivery. This isn’t as straightforward as plugging in a connector via a software solution (whatever some software vendors may tell you). You need to map inputs and outputs, apply formatting rules, and invariably liaise with the provider of the invoicing portal. The most efficient way to automate your invoicing processes is via a managed service, such as Corcentric EIPP, where you can direct the requirements but outsource the complexity of configuration and delivery.
Find out more about this in our Guide to Automating AP Portal Invoice Delivery.
Pain #2: Sending electronic invoices by email
You may be surprised to learn that e-invoicing by email can be a fairly manual process for some accounts receivable teams. While ERP systems can deliver invoices by email, they tend to require IT development work to automate invoices to contacts who aren’t the main customer contact listed on the system, or to send to a group, or attach additional documents, or do quite a lot of the things you might need to do for a broad range of clients.
Solution – A dedicated e-invoicing solution layer that sits on top of your ERP system can provide all the real-time rules-based processing, nuance, and automation you need. Check out our guide to Invoicing Beyond an ERP System to see how this can work.
Pain #3: Fulfilling copy requests
Once you’ve sent your invoices, it’s not uncommon to need to produce copies of these for customers at a later date. If you’re comfortable filing, retrieving, and resending − sometimes printing and posting − invoices from a computer or online storage, these business processes may be familiar and, consequently, not take too much time. However, requiring customers to access assistance through a phone connection not only contributes to customer frustration but can be a drain on scarce customer service resources.
Solution – Provide each customer with their own portal, where they can access all previous invoices and associated documents to download or print themselves. This functionality provides cost savings and improved workflow to customer experience. Discover how easy it is to eradicate invoicing errors and make sure invoices reach your customers with Corcentric EIPP.
Pain #4: Meeting EU Public Sector Requirements
With the advent of EU Directive 2014/555/EU, government administrations across Europe require invoices to be supplied electronically or they will not be processed. Additionally, the invoices typically must be in an XML or EDI e-invoicing format, which varies from country to country.
Complying with this European Union requirement often means both connecting to an online government invoicing portal, using electronic data interchange (EDI), and formatting invoices to a specific standard (e.g. FatturaPA, for upload to the Sistema di Interscambio (SdI) portal in Italy).
It takes time and development focus to establish connections with each portal and ensure invoices match the required delivery format.
Solution – There are a couple of options for connecting with each portal and its associated invoicing standard. The process can be handled individually as a development project or outsourced, at a lower cost, as part of a broader requirement for a managed service provider, such as Corcentric EIPP.
Many of the challenges in delivering to public sector portals are addressed in our Guide to Automating AP Portal Invoice Delivery – start to develop a business case to tackle these inefficiencies today.
Pain #5: Handling delivery failures
Invoice delivery failures need to be identified and addressed urgently, before they have a negative impact on cash flow. Electronic delivery may have the edge on postal delivery for reaching recipients, but delivery failures and delays do still occur.
Sending invoices via an ERP system mail-out function, or batch sending via Outlook, needs to be paired with a robust delivery assurance mechanism. Both soft and hard email bounces need to be taken into account, as do changes to delivery addresses.
Done well, e-invoicing solutions can automatically re-try electronic delivery multiple times and switch to the next best delivery route – even falling back on automated print and post of paper invoices –when electronic delivery fails too many times.
Solution – A fully managed e-invoicing service should include insight into delivery success, as well as automation of the steps to address delivery failure, such as resending by a different route. Beyond the basics of delivery tracking, solutions such as Corcentric EIPP provide insight into whether recipients have read or committed to pay invoices. The more information you have about delivery, receipt, and payment status, the better armed you are to resolve exceptions before they impact cash flow.
Your solution to e-invoicing delivery pain
If any of these pain points sound familiar to you, why not arrange a quick discovery call with one of our solution experts at Corcentric. We can help you identify quick wins and set out a plan to remove all your e-invoicing pains with Corcentric EIPP.