Over the last decade there have been significant advances in electronic invoicing - or ‘e-Invoicing’ - in terms of both uptake and breadth of functionality. So much that the term ‘e-Invoicing’ is now associated with much more than invoicing, encompassing a comprehensive raft of Source-to-Pay processes.
Nevertheless, for those companies that aren’t yet on board, the first step is to start with the basics by adopting e-Invoicing. This alone will deliver some extensive benefits and, as you become comfortable with the concept, you can then add more functions as you head towards the gains and competitive advantage that full digitisation can offer.
The potential route to full digitisation is mirrored in the history of Source-to-Pay processes.
For example, early e-Invoicing simply involved the exchange of invoices between trading partners. In some cases, other trading documents such as requisitions and purchase orders were also included. Even this relatively simple step delivers significant advantages in terms of speeding up workflows, making it easier to find information and reducing the use of paper and post. So, this is the obvious way to dip a toe in the water.
Since then, things have moved on quite a bit. A mix of new technologies such as smartphones combined with big data analytics have made it possible to introduce new features that optimise processes and streamline workflows even further. There are also stronger safeguards against errors and fraud.
At the heart of these benefits is the ability to automate a wide range of accounts processes such as automated validation of invoices in the cloud which speeds up the whole process and eliminates the need to manually re-key invoices into different systems. It also drastically reduces the manual communication associated with accounts queries.
Similarly, streamlining of the procurement process through a single platform that connects to accredited suppliers delivers time savings as well as preventing ‘maverick’ spend by individuals within your company. Additionally, supply chain performance can be improved with opportunities for more advantageous buying.
In fact, the examples cited here are just some of the benefits that can be realised through electronic trading. There are many more examples of how members of Causeway’s Tradex community are already enjoying such benefits.
Current developments in the Source-to-Pay world include smart contracts with digital signatures, along with industry-specific financing arrangements.
There are also moves towards blockchain technology, where e-Invoices with unique secure IDs become assets that can be used for supply chain financing.
Some of the benefits of using approved invoices for supply chain financing are summarised here. As noted above, though, the first step is to start taking advantage of the tried and tested e-Invoicing services already available through Causeway Tradex.