In a world of uncertainty and turmoil, one thing that can be predicted with absolute confidence is that throughout the remainder of 2017, businesses of all types will continue to pursue digitisation strategies to reduce their reliance on paper and manual processing.
One of the most popular processes for digitisation is e-invoicing. Accounts payable and accounts receivable follow clearly defined workflows, and an all-digital process formalises what is already happening in an unplanned fashion. There is a wide choice of on-premise and hosted e-invoicing solutions from which to choose, and according to the 2015 Industry Watch report from AIIM, 40% of organisations already receive more than half of their invoices digitally.
Above all, e-invoicing can dramatically improve business efficiency and cashflow, while delivering a rapid return on investment.
Here are 10 reasons why businesses should consider transitioning to a digital invoicing system.
1. Get paid faster
Creating and distributing invoices electronically enables you to get paid more quickly. Simply avoiding the need to print and post invoices, or the wait for your customer to process hard copies, can cut as many as five days from the invoicing process. With the availability of cloud solutions, you don’t even need to be in the office to submit or approve an invoice. All you need is internet access and a mobile device.
2. Enable prompt payment
Electronic workflows reduce the time that your accounts payable department takes to process invoices – and clear up disputes. As well as helping to avoid late payment fines, faster processing could help you qualify for prompt payment discounts.
3. Peace of mind
Once a paper bill leaves your company post room, you have no way of knowing whether it has been received or not. This element of uncertainty can be exploited by customers to delay payment. Even if a posted bill really has gone astray, it may be weeks before you become aware of the fact and send a duplicate. E-billing systems that show when an email has been received and opened provide certainty and reassurance.
4. Save money
E-invoicing cuts costs at every stage of the invoicing process. It removes printing, postage and filing costs and reduces manpower requirements through the automation of labour-intensive processes. In some cases, by utilising e-billing for the order-to-cash process, you can reduce tangible operating expenses by more than £150,000 per annum.
5. Increase productivity
Manual, paper-based processes are inherently inefficient. In a study by Opinionway, conducted on behalf of Neopost, 47% of businesses said that they wasted time on repetitive tasks; and 37% complained that they wasted time re-entering data several times throughout a process. By removing the need for manual data entry, e-invoicing significantly improves productivity and frees up time that can be devoted to other tasks. According to Lexmark, automation increases the number of invoices one person can process daily from 80-120 to 300-500.
6. Improve data accuracy
Automation eliminates the errors associated with manual data entry, reducing the risk – and cost – of disputes. Almost half of businesses surveyed by Neopost/Opinionway said that their existing invoice processes were prone to human error, and, according to some estimates, up to 40% of all business invoices are queried. The time spent resolving each one delays payment and adds an extra £10 to processing costs – even more if a credit note is required to offset an element of the debt. E-invoicing systems and automatic data extraction minimise errors at the outset, helping to reduce the number of queries and the time taken to resolve them.
7. Customer satisfaction
Paying bills faster and avoiding disputes caused by manual input errors strengthens supplier relationships and is good PR. It can also enhance customer relationships. Many consumers like the convenience of e-billing, especially if they can pay as part of the same process.
8. Improve cashflow
Without the delays associated with manual invoice and payment processing, e-invoicing systems enable your accounts department to keep a closer tab on cashflow and the balance sheet. An up-to-date, centralised view of incomings and outgoings, accessible remotely 24/7, is particularly beneficial for organisations with multiple branches and regional offices.
9. End-to-end automation
E-invoicing lets you simplify and streamline processes for you and your customers, for example by scheduling bills to be sent out on a particular date. In a survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD), 47% of members said that the main reasons for late payment were excessively bureaucratic payment systems or overly complex terms and conditions.
10. Keep digital records
E-invoicing systems keep a digital record of all invoices and supporting documents. Easy access around the clock has big benefits for dispute resolution and compliance. In the 2015 AIIM Industry Watch report, improved searchability and shareability of business documents was cited as the main driver for scanning and data capture, ahead of productivity, reduced storage requirements and faster response to customers. More than one third of businesses surveyed by Neopost/Opinionway said that they currently had difficulty finding and retrieving communications with customers. Electronic filing also reduces the amount of paper circulating around a business and can help an organisation reduce its carbon footprint.
Getting your invoicing right delivers real benefits for cashflow, customer satisfaction and compliance with HMRC requirements. Neopost solutions can help you to manage the design, production and distribution of invoices by any combination of mail, email and online. Find out more and book a free Neopost invoicing process audit to see how e-invoicing can benefit for your business.