Electronic invoicing sees rise in popularity

19 October 2012

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19 October 2012 | Anna Reynolds

Businesses are adopting e-invoicing systems to drive cost savings and increase efficiency in transactions, according to a survey by the Institute of Financial Operations (IFO) and e-procurement provider Basware.

The global survey of 900 procurement professionals at companies in the construction, retail and manufacturing sectors, found 70 per cent of respondents are now using electronic invoicing technology compared to 59 per cent in 2011.

More than half, 56 per cent, of companies with web-based or outsourced e-invoicing reported a reduced cost of invoice processing, compared with 47 per cent who used less advanced systems. Half of respondents from Sweden and Germany reported cost saving benefits from e-invoicing systems.

Larger organisations with more than 1,000 employees are more likely to outsource their e-invoicing (26 per cent) compared with SME’s (11 per cent). The survey also found smaller businesses are more likely to see customer demand as a driver for switching to e-invoicing, with 61 per cent of businesses with less than 100 employees reporting this as a reason for increased adoption. Only 34 per cent of businesses with 1,000 or more employees stated the same.

But 58 per cent of respondents still receive invoices as PDF attachments, with a further 13 per cent avoiding automated processes altogether. The survey found companies in the UK and Germany are most likely to be using PDF formats when invoicing, which the report claims is “still a long way from real e-invoicing”.

Diane Sears, senior editor at the IFO, said in the report: “Businesses are using e-invoicing to a greater degree in 2012 than in 2011, with the commercial drivers of operational efficiency (speed and cost) emerging as the dominant themes that create e-invoice ‘momentum’ in the market.

“As companies with more sophisticated e-invoice systems are experiencing greater business benefits in terms of cost savings, quality, and supplier relationships, they should provide sufficient incentive for other businesses to review existing strategy, evaluate, and take appropriate action to ensure that all is being done to optimise processes and cost savings in this area.”

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