Forward planning

The issue for many organisations when faced with an e-invoicing project is ‘where to start?’. As with everything in life, the better you plan, the more likely it is that you will get the results you want. Below are some recommendations for planning the implementation of your e-invoicing programme.

Build the business case

All senior managers are interested in tangible, bottom line benefits. Start by creating a sound business case that sets out the ROI and payback calculations. If you are working with an e-invoicing solutions provider, they should be able to supply you with reliable financial estimates based on their experience. The key element, however, in building a successful business case, is to ensure that you have an agreed method for calculating your current average invoice processing cost. Without this, you will never know whether your e-invoicing project has delivered the financial benefits you desired.

For more ideas on creating a business case review the “How to Build a Believable (But Compelling) e-Invoicing Business Case” webinar in the resources section of this website.

Start small, think big

Plan your e-invoicing project according to how many invoices you will be able to process automatically and the countries the e-invoices will progressively touch. You should plan globally from the outset even if you decide it is advisable to execute locally to begin with and grow from there. Consider starting with a subset of invoices based on specific criteria (for example, invoice type, business partner type). Then, gradually increase the number of invoices that can be dealt with automatically, or with minimal human intervention.

Managing the transition period

For practical purposes, paper and e-invoices may co-exist during the transition, so ensure that a tax inspector can easily distinguish between what is done electronically and what isn’t. In the initial implementation phases certain types of invoices will tend to remain on paper because of internal process complexities. Some companies choose to accept and issue paper invoices at the same time for the same goods and services for a short period. But beware, this doesn’t remove any of the problems and duplicates work, and can actually increase costs at the time you are aiming to reduce them.

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