One of the biggest challenges to further uptake of electronic invoicing is supplier adoption. But creative design studio Big Giant, for one, has made the move and lived to tell the tale.
Not only do new portals offer the traditional benefits associated with automated processes—lower invoicing costs, eliminating paper usage, much-reduced staff resources dedicated to invoice management, for example—but they also can help greatly with cash flow forecasting through automated invoice and purchase order matching and payment date notification.
Given the ease with which suppliers can now get access to and manage electronic invoicing systems, it is time for smaller companies in the United States to start getting on board with electronic invoicing.
Big Giant boasts Nike, Dell and Lego among its client list. The small studio has embraced electronic invoicing for some of its clients—those that have requested it--and assures us that making the changes necessary to support electronic invoicing is simpler than most small companies might think.
Often smaller companies can feel that the effort involved in moving to automated processes for invoices is not worth the time and effort for themselves, particularly as it can often be only one or two larger clients that want them to change invoicing processes. Which means they still have to manage their traditional invoicing mechanisms for other clients.
But e-invoicing systems are making it increasingly easy for smaller companies to get on board their systems, without all the invoicing process evaluation and change that can make it seem daunting.
Joy Stoelting, studio and finance manager at Big Giant, says she was at first reluctant to look at electronic invoicing, but the firm had a request from one of its biggest clients—Nike—to try out the online e-invoicing solution from Ariba.
Stoelting says: “I went into it reluctantly. Anything new is a little daunting. I had assumed this may just be another bureaucratic treadmill to run on. But actually it was surprisingly simple. I had to do one webinar tutorial, and it was pretty self explanatory once I was on and navigated through site.”
A number of e-invoicing firms now offer easy-to-access online systems that provide relatively straightforward invoice creation and management, and also integrate back into most standard ERP or accounting software packages.
One of the biggest advantages for a smaller company is that there is no need to worry about matching of invoices with client purchase orders, as it is done automatically. Says Stoelting: “The moment it is matched up—and assuming there are no conflicts—I get an email saying that it is approved, and shortly thereafter I get an email that tells me the scheduled payment date. That is almost more valuable than anything.”
With the European Commission having just released a white paper pushing full electronic invoicing adoption by 2020 and preparing strategies to foster uptake, it is high time that smaller US suppliers also open their minds to the idea.