We say yes, but only if you make the technology suit the market. In a recent report by Paystream Advisors “Invoice Receipt Management 2015” they advise that although there is much excitement and emerging technology for eInvoicing (that is the Structured invoice data issued in Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) or XML formats) and the obvious benefits for companies in fact the uptake to adopt this method of receiving invoices is still relatively low, and most particularly in the SME market.
In this report Paystream identified three key reasons why there has been barrier to adoption: Lack of supplier adoption, difficulty with integration and a lack of internal change management.
This report has validated our original research and thoughts when we set out to develop and introduce an invoice automation module for the SME corporate market. We also identified that smaller suppliers would not have the ability to set up or the inclination to send eInvoices to their customers as it would be too technically difficult and costly. And given that smaller companies are different to their large corporate counterparts they deal with many, many smaller suppliers rather than a few big ones that provide most of the invoices the issue of supplier buy in would be vitally important.
So right from the outset we adopted an alternative strategy and simply made it a non-issue for suppliers. Rather than trying to get suppliers to change the way they issue their invoices our solution has been designed so they can simply send their PDF invoice to us and we handle the extraction and automation process. Or the company employee who purchased the goods can on forward the emailed PDF themselves and take the supplier out of the loop entirely.
The issue of integration with external systems is also a very straightforward process for us and we use the same approach that we use for our expense module by creating a data hand off file that allows our clients to upload the supplier information directly into their external finance system.
The last key barrier identified by Paystream was a lack of buy-in by company executives. As ProSpend is a cloud solution, our full implementation service means it’s a very easy path for a company that wants to move to automated A/P and with low risk and no IT resources.
But most importantly, in the AP lifecycle, removing the paper invoice is only the first step towards true efficiency. Beyond getting rid of the paper there is also the matching, approval workflow and payment processes and these are all included in the ProSpend solution.
So is paper free invoices for SME’s achievable – we think so!