Five reasons your business will benefit from inbound

550 billion invoices are generated annually. Of those, just 55 billion or 10% are paperless. With 90% of businesses already automating processes, invoicing is one of the last tasks to be automated.

Like the vinyl record collector rejecting Spotify, or the paperback book lover refusing to switch to a Kindle, businesses have been hanging on to manual invoicing systems out of force of habit. Some felt it would be costly, complex and would take time training staff. Others thought their current systems worked fine, or they didn’t have the bandwidth or resource to roll-out a new project.

With concerns about virus transmission remaining high and more employees work remotely, this is beginning to change. We’re seeing a renewed interest from businesses in the kinds of technologies which digitise and automate processes such as invoicing. Some manual processes which might have seemed effective when managed in an office location are no longer efficient, practical or safe. If most employees are working remotely it falls to the office, estate or facilities manager to go into the office, to collect outstanding mail such as invoices and send them to the correct person for processing. This results in delays and inefficiencies. It also risks compromising sensitive financial data and leaves businesses open to late payment penalties.

Governments are pressing for digital invoicing. Some countries in Latin America have had legislation requiring e-invoicing in place for several years. In Europe, Italy was the first country to introduce a law for mandatory electronic invoicing, with others following suit.

Businesses are experiencing many advantages from making the switch to e-invoicing. Here are five ways your company will benefit:

1. Improved accuracy

Manual systems are susceptible to human error. Busy, tired workers are prone to inputting mistakes which can be costly. Processing invoices manually results in high risk of human error, especially if employees have high volumes of documents to process which is time-consuming and repetitive. It’s not only the risk of inputting figures or address details incorrectly: these types of process also leave businesses vulnerable to penalties and fines for non-compliance with GDPR, if the correct data protection measures are not adhered to. E-invoicing eliminates these risks and discrepancies, with many systems proving 100% accuracy as high performance software validates invoices line by line.

2. Reduced costs and improved productivity

Digital invoicing systems allows businesses to remove manual data entry almost entirely and maximise inbound processing. This can result in savings of 60-80% over paper-based processing, with projects generating a payback between six and eighteen months. Employees are freed from cumbersome manual systems, working with speed and agility but without the need for lengthy, intense training on the new system.

3. Cloud-based making remote access simple

The shift in workplaces, as a result of measures to minimise pandemic transmission, is likely to have a lasting impact on businesses. 60% of workers in the UK would like to work from home more often than they did previously. Over the past few months, cloud-based applications have been a huge help in enabling employees to complete their work regardless of their location. E-invoicing systems hosted in the Cloud share these advantages, with platforms accessible from any location, via desktop, tablet or mobile.

4. Greater transparency and protection from fraud

Paper-based invoicing systems lack transparency. Queries require paging through documentation, and reporting relies on the accuracy of data entry. In 2018, invoicing scams cost UK businesses nearly £93 million. Fraudulent claims -  from suppliers over-billing, duplicating invoices, billing for incomplete work or for work not assigned, for example – are harder to detect with the naked eye, particularly for staff tasked with processing hundreds of incoming invoices each day. Automating invoicing minimises the risk of human error, flags discrepancies and highlights invoices which could leave your business exposed to fraud. E-invoicing software such as Pitney Bowes’ inbound e-invoicing reads the data layer in a digital PDF and automatically validates it, line by line, with 100% accuracy. At this level of accuracy, data provides a highly reliable, robust basis both for reporting and for driving data-driven decision making.

5. Improved supplier relationships and new business opportunities

Late payment harms business relationships. New measures which came into practice in the UK in 2019 mean payment delays could risk future business opportunities, too. The new measures were introduced to reduce pay delays in both public and private sector organisations. Big businesses must pay 95% of their invoices in 60 days or risk being excluded from bidding for government contracts. This builds on the 2008 Prompt Payment Code or PPC, under which businesses are removed from contractor lists if they cannot make payments on time. E-invoicing has a positive impact on supplier relationships, with reduced invoice-to-pay times and opportunity for suppliers’ discounts. If suppliers have made any mistakes in their invoicing, these will be flagged early on in the process, rather than repeated invoices being submitted and rejected, and late payment penalties are all but eliminated. Pitney Bowes’ inbound e-invoicing requires no process change for suppliers, with the ability to multiple inbound invoice types such as PDF, scanned images, XML, EDI and HTML. Suppliers can continue to send their invoices to you in the way that suits them in the knowledge that they’ll get paid, on time, without spending time chasing up outstanding payments.