Selecting the right eInvoicing service provider

If you decide that utilising an eInvoicing provider is the best approach for you, there are a number of things to consider in your selection process. First, you need to be sure that your chosen solution provider is able to deliver all of the base eInvoicing functionality described in the “Selecting the right eInvoicing solution.” In addition, you should look to select a solution provider that:

Can provide a solution for ALL of your e-business needs as they evolve

Although invoicing may seem to be a small process within a broader business context, it is an essential part of your overall procure-to-pay and order-to-cash processes. Your eInvoicing programme needs to be viewed within the wider context of your B2B e-commerce strategy. It should be aligned with your company initiatives in areas including procurement, logistics, payments and tax compliance. This is how you can gain the maximum benefit from your eInvoicing initiative. Therefore, you should check that the eInvoicing service provider you select is able to provide for all of your company’s B2B e-commerce requirements in order to improve your overall business improvement initiatives.

Is viable for the long term

In the eInvoicing marketplace the number of vendors is growing by at least 20 per cent annually. Market analysts predict that within the next two years, when the number of e-invoices processed surpasses 15 per cent of the total issued, there will be a significant consolidation of vendors through acquisitions. So, one consideration when selecting your eInvoicing vendor should be whether or not they will be in existence after this anticipated market consolidation.

Can integrate eInvoicing with your ERP system

B2B integration is complex, costly and continuous. Standards, protocols, processes and back-end systems constantly change. They change within an enterprise, and also among trading partners, exponentially increasing the complexity. Because no enterprise is fully standardised and no trading community fully homogenous, vendors need to be platform-agnostic in order to connect everything and everyone, not just SAP or Oracle. This is a key point because the ability to interact with competing ERP platforms will shield you from non-compliance with partner systems. Strong B2B-to-ERP integration skills also provide you with the ability to create a ‘firewall’ around your ERP applications, ensuring that your ERP is fed with accurate information, improving visibility into cross-enterprise information and helping to standardise business processes and improve invoicing efficiencies.

Can prove the cost savings they outline in their proposed solution

It is important that your service provider is able to model the costs and savings of eInvoicing as they specifically relate to your organisation. They must be able to understand your current business practices and give firm estimates of the ROI and payback periods that your organisation, whether you are a buyer or supplier, can expect to see from your eInvoicing implementation.

Has a global presence

Global eInvoicing capabilities enable you to leverage regional cost variances for more efficient invoicing operations. Connecting to a global trading community also gives you the flexibility to shift supply chain strategies as market dynamics change, such as the recent shifts to regionalisation (i.e. near-shore manufacturing).

True global presence and reach require local network infrastructure, implementation and on-boarding resources, technical support staff, local language skills, local standards support, and localised technology interfaces. These must be available in all of your locations and also the locations of your trading partners, today and in the future. Global experience, beyond the solution components, is also paramount and cannot be created overnight. It involves knowledge of local trade practices, government relationships and regulatory requirements built up over time.

Is backed by analysts skilled in country-specific requirements

One of the key challenges faced by large, multinational corporations is the complex maze of regulatory frameworks for electronic invoices. The eInvoicing service provider you select should ensure that the electronic invoices you send and receive are compliant with the applicable laws and regulations of the specific countries in which you do business. Failure to comply with the varying laws can result in significant risks of tax sanctions including fines and the possibility of buyers losing their right to deduct VAT, which averages 20 per cent of transaction values.

Has a scalable solution – both in size and geographic location

The ROI for your eInvoicing programme increases as more trading partners participate. You should look for a solution provider that has proven experience in implementing large communities, comprising of large, medium and small businesses across different geographies. This will ensure that you have a solution today if your company is sourcing from or selling to trading partners in other countries around the world. Furthermore, if you plan to source or sell globally in the future, your eInvoicing solution provider will then be able to support your plans. Seek evidence that they have fully implemented such global communities.

Has well established development plans for its service

As eInvoicing requirements and regulatory environments are always changing, it is important to check that your service provider has the capabilities you need today and that they have plans in place to ensure that they will also be able to deliver the service you need tomorrow. In this way, you should be able to gain some insights to the provider’s commitment to the service they provide in your specific industry or market niche and their future development roadmap.

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