Digitizing old paper-based processes in the company = time and money savings. This is one of the simple formulas of digital transformation. Only many of us haven’t taken note and still like to print invoices out in paper form. This is one of the findings of the Bitkom Digital Office Index presented by the German digital association at CeBIT 2016.

The whole business world is talking about the opportunities and possibilities of digitalization, so Bitkom asked 1,108 companies with more than 20 employees about their digitization progress, among other things. The result: 58 percent of German companies still issue their invoices on paper. Even among companies with 500 or more employees, with an enormously high volume of invoices, almost half of them use paper.

Only just over a third of German companies generate their invoices in a digital format, according to the Bitkom Office Index 2016.

Paper is patient – but expensive

You might think that you can put what you like on paper. In fact, there is actually no longer any reason why invoices need to be printed – except that we love paper. We certainly cannot claim a lack of benefits to going digital. To put it in black and white, digital invoice processing (or e-billing) saves creation time, reduces printing and storage costs, etc. and keeps paper use to the bare minimum. Another important argument is that the recipient can transfer e-bills directly into their own system without scanning, without typing.

So why do we insist on using paper? Is it due to a lack of uniform standards for electronic invoices or are they too little known, meaning there is no driving force? Are German companies just lagging behind? Or are other topics simply more important? The index has not yet provided any answers to this question.

When it comes to the receipt of invoices, the figures look a little better than for their creation. Only about 40% of German companies receive invoices in paper form (source: Bitkom Office Index 2016).

Savings of 64.5 billion euros

One thing is certain: the issue of e-billing is now also on the EU agenda. Not least because the number of invoices sent is constantly increasing. In Germany alone, around 32 billion invoices are exchanged each year, mostly on paper. According to EU companies, switching to e-billing could save up to 64.5 billion euros per year (computerwoche.de).