The optimization of business processes is the most important requirement for IT managers in companies. One of the most promising automation concepts is electronic invoicing. The potential for rationalization in invoice processing is enormous.

How the electronic invoice becomes a piggy bank

Around 35 billion invoices were sent in Europe in 2015 – and increasingly frequently this was by e-mail, meaning that they can also be processed and archived digitally, without media breaks. However, companies continue to print and send the majority of invoices by mail, even though this is not really economical. The volume of invoices received by companies quickly reaches an order of magnitude that can only be mastered at very high cost and with a great deal of time, unless a suitable software solution is in place for invoice processing. Time is a decisive factor here, as it may allow the recipient to take advantage of applicable discounts and lower their costs, for example. The EU Commission estimates the potential savings from electronic invoice processing for companies in the EU to be 64.5 billion euros per year and it therefore plans to establish e-invoicing by 2020.

Prevent errors, minimize effort

By switching to paperless invoice processing, costs and time can be saved and sources of errors reduced. Studies show that with paper-based work, an average of six copies are made per invoice and archived in a decentralized manner. This results in a real paper-obsessed economy. It causes unnecessary sources of error and additional work. For Zeppelin Baumaschinen GmbH, the introduction of Enterprise Content Management software “made economic sense simply due to the costs saved on the space and associated filing cabinets that were no longer required,” confirms Stefan Nehls, software engineer at the construction machinery specialist. The electronic storage of received invoices or digitized paper invoices helps to considerably speed up the processing and issuing of invoices. ECM software supports companies with release workflows, for example, to optimize invoice verification processes. Well over half the time required can be saved by electronic invoice processing: “Our invoice processing times have been reduced by up to 80 percent thanks to the inbound document workflow perfectly integrated into our company processes,” says Björn Gersch, Director Operations at Meyer Logistik/Meyer GmbH & Co. KG, which has been using OPTIMAL SYSTEMS software for document management and invoice processing since 2010.

Optimization through digitalization

The manufacturing industry leads the way when it comes to digitalization. As part of Industry 4.0, more and more production processes are being automated and digitally processed. But the “smart factory” cannot exist if the production processes alone are digitized. In the commercial field, too, processes can be efficiently automated through digitalization. Numerous companies have used ECM software to map the invoice receipt process completely digitally – regardless of whether invoices are received by mail or e-mail. In many cases, this was an entry scenario into a far-reaching digitalizationstrategy – a kind of nucleus for the digital transformation of the company. OPTIMAL SYSTEMS sets a good example and promotes electronic invoice exchange.