Friday, July 25, 2008

No future for paper invoices?

These days the majority of postal mail people in Australia receive is either advertising material or bill. In the future, this may be cut even further to only ads.

In the European Union there's a major project underway to create a whole-of-government standard for all EU government invoicing, that can also be propagated across the private sector, creating savings estimated at EUR65.4 billion per year for businesses.

That's a staggering amount of savings simply for removing those paper bills - not to mention the environmental benefits of saving all of that paper, printing and transportation.

If successful it will mean that the EU government will strongly encourage all of its suppliers to move to e-procurement - at some point mandating the change. This will be propagated out to national, regional and local governments in the EU area.

The impacts of this are likely to be global. Any business with a relationship with EU governments will have to move towards the EU invoicing standards to maintain their billing arrangements. In turn this will influence them towards adopting a standard system across electronic billing for their other government and private customers around the world.

It will be interesting to see how far-reaching the effects will be, whether other governments will mandate other e-procurement invoicing standards - raising new barriers for organisations dealing across national boundaries, or will support the EU approach to potentially create global e-invoicing standards.

More information about the initiative is available at the European Commission website in the e-Invoicing working group site.

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