Discussions about invoice management and e-procurement system upgrades are circulating across-the-pond conference rooms this week as the European Commission closes out its consultation on e-invoicing in public procurement. With the European Parliament mandating e-invoicing by 2016 and the European Digital Agenda’s dictate that electronic and paper invoices will be treated equally as of January 2013, businesses both in Europe and elsewhere around the globe (especially in the United States and Latin America) are working to bring their invoice management and e-procurement up to par.
Of course, there’s much more to the surge of interest in e-invoicing than just eliminating the hassle of paper. It’s frequently viewed as a first step in streamlining the overall operations of both government administration and the businesses with which it interacts. Add to that increased purchasing power and the ability to expand services while saving tax money, and the rapid rate of adoption speaks for itself, especially for countries that are struggling with bloated budgets and sinking economies.
With Europe being so closely interlinked, there is special interest in eliminating barriers that prevent businesses from operating efficiently across borders. The challenge will be in developing (and procuring) a comprehensive solution that provides the needed technology as well as the procedural backing to suit thousands of businesses across dozens of countries. No easy feat when you are dealing with varied cultures, languages and business ideologies.
Adam Afriyie and Stephen McPartland, both contributors to the UK’s The Guardian, give their own insight into the issues the United Kingdom is experiencing as it works to overcome the tendency toward relying on paper-based bureaucracy, something other government administrations (and corporations around the world) should heed before they are left behind, both digitally and economically:
“Britain must escape the stranglehold of the political-bureaucratic obsession that often places a premium on process over outcome. The government must push on if Britain is to fulfill its potential and become a global leader in a digital revolution, having the power to increase national productivity overnight.
Britain already lags behind most of Europe and many of our global competitors. In Denmark, paper invoicing has been banned in the public sector since 2005. E-invoicing in the public sector has been in operation in Sweden since 2008. The Finnish government has accepted e-invoices only since January 2010. Britain must step up its game.”
That goes for more than just Britain. With the way technology is altering how the world does business, both public and private organizations need to step up to the game themselves before they get outplayed.
Image Source: NASA