Companies need to take care not to get hooked on the sweet taste of PDFs for the exchange of supply chain transactions, such as invoices and orders. This might feel like digital business but actually delays digital transformation. PDF exchange may taste sweet but is putting a stranglehold on process improvements. It increases business risk at a time when the world around us is going digital and when things are more unexpected than usual. 

Although sending supply chain transactions using a PDF feels like a step up from sending paper, it acts to anchor businesses to manual processing, and this is having negative impacts on both buyers and suppliers. PDF exchange can be excused in a few exceptional cases where automated data exchange is simply not possible. However, this should rarely be needed and never be positioned as having made either party into a digital business.

Understandably, suppliers are becoming over-reliant on the sweet taste of PDF exchange, largely as this gives the impression that it has somehow moved responsibility for their digital transformation onto their buyer. At the same time, buyers are investing in PDF-to-data extraction services to try and unlock the benefits of e-Invoicing. Both are at serious risk of being left behind.

We need to expose the considerable limitations PDF document exchange places on buyers and suppliers. We also need to understand why this is not a step forward but one that leaves us vulnerable and inefficient. Moreover, it can so easily be avoided. 

There are simple steps we can take that allow us to become truly digital businesses.  Compared to paper and post, PDF once felt like a big step forward but the world has moved on a very long way. Digital business is close to being essential for corporate survival. Allowing suppliers to keep sending PDF invoices (as just one example) makes it so much harder for either the supplier or the buyer to operate effectively. 

Find out why PDF invoicing should no longer be seen as a good option in our latest white paper, Cut Out the 'PDF Sugar' from e-Invoicing.

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