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Electronic invoicing is a form of electronic billing. E-invoicing methods are used by trading partners, such as customers and their suppliers, to present and monitor transactional documents between one another and ensure the terms of their trading agreements are being met. These documents include invoices, purchase orders, debit notes, credit notes, payment terms and instructions, and remittance slips. A true E-Invoice can be defined as the following: Structured invoice data issued in Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) or XML formats and structured invoice data issued using standard Internet-based web forms. [1] These documents can be exchanged in a number of ways including EDI, XML, or CSV files.[2] They can be uploaded using emails, virtual printers, web applications or FTP sites. The company may use imaging software to capture data from PDF or paper invoices and input it into their invoicing system. This streamlines the filing process while positively impacting sustainability efforts. Some companies have their own in-house e-invoicing process, however many companies hire a third party company to implement and support e-invoicing processes and to archive the data on their own servers.[3]

E-invoicing includes a number of different technologies and entry options, it is used as an umbrella term to describe any method by which an invoice is electronically presented to a customer for payment.[4]

Why E-invoicing?[edit]

The main responsibility of the accounts payable department is to process and review transactions from its suppliers. In other words, it is the accounts payable department's job to ensure all outstanding invoices from its suppliers are approved, processed, and paid. Processing an invoice includes recording important data from the invoice and feeding it into the company’s financial or bookkeeping systems. After the feed is accomplished, the invoices must go through the company's business process to be paid.[5]

While this process is simple, it can become very difficult for companies with many trading partners to keep track of all transaction documents. The department can become overwhelmed with paper invoices and other forms. Inundation can lead to a host of problems including human error during data entry, lost invoices, late payments, invoice duplication, and even double payments.[6] By centralizing all transaction documents in one location on a web server so they can be easily found and processed, electronic invoicing can be a very useful tool for the AP department. Electronic invoicing allows vendors to submit invoices over the internet and have them automatically routed for processing. With e-invoicing, invoice arrival and presentation is nearly immediate. Invoices are therefore paid sooner and the amount of time and money it takes to process them is greatly reduced.[7] Respondents to the 2012 global e-invoicing study stated that 56% of businesses experienced higher cost saving per invoice by implementing sophisticated e-invoice systems (sending/receiving XML e-invoices, using point-to-point connections, using third-party web service/portals) than those that didn't implement them.[8]


Since the mid-1960s, companies began establishing data links with trading partners in order to transfer documents, such as invoices and purchase orders. Inspired by the idea of a paperless office and more reliable transfer of data, they developed the first EDI systems. These proprietary systems were fairly efficient, but rigid. Every set of trading partners seemed to have their own standard of electronic data interchange. There was no standard that any trading partners could choose to adopt. Recognizing this, the Accredited Standards Committee X12, a standards institution under the umbrella of ANSI, moved to standardize EDI processes. The result is known today as the ANSI X12 EDI standard.[9] This remained the main way to exchange transactional data between trading partners until the 1990s when companies began to appear that offered more robust user interface web applications with functions that catered to both supplier and customer. These new web based applications allowed for online submission of individual invoices as well as EDI file uploads, including the CSV, PDF and XML formats. These services allow suppliers to present invoices to their customers for matching and approval via a user friendly web application. Suppliers can also see a history of all the invoices they submitted to their customer without having direct access to the customers systems. This is because all the transactional information is stored in the data centers of the third party company that provides the invoicing web app. This transactional information can be regulated by the customer in order to control how much information the vendor is allowed to see. (For example payment dates, or check information).[10]

As companies advance into the digital era, more and more are switching to electronic invoicing services to automate their accounts payable departments. The 2012 Global E-Invoicing Study illustrated the rate at which electronic invoicing is growing. According to the study, 73 percent of respondents used electronic invoicing to some degree in 2012. That is a 14% increase from 2011. Supplier resistance to e-invoicing has decreased from 46 percent in 2011 to 26 percent in 2012.[11] Some even believe electronic invoking will be an industry standard in the near future. According to a report done by the GXS in 2013, Europe is adopting government legislation encouraging businesses to adopt electronic invoicing practices. The United States has no such legislation yet, but does recognize the value of this technology. The US treasury estimated that implementing e-invoicing across the entire federal government would reduce costs by 50% and save $450 million annually.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.einvoicingbasics.co.uk/what-is-e-invoicing/.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  2. ^ GXS. (n.d.). Lost? Don't Know What to look for in an e-invoiceing solution? Retrieved from GXS: http://www.gxs.co.uk/eBooks/eInvoicing/e-invoicing_ebook_uk.pdf
  3. ^ US Bank, Scott Hesse. (2010, August 9). Electronic invoice Presentment and Payment (EIPP): Streamlining the payment Process. Retrieved from nasact: http://www.nasact.org/conferences_training/nasact/conferences/AnnualConferences/2010AnnualConference/CS7_Hesse.pdf
  4. ^ tieto. (2009). The future of E-invoicing, Pg. 5. Retrieved from digitdoc: http://www.digitdoc.hu/downloads/e_invoicing.pdf
  5. ^ Accounting Tools. (2013). Accounts Payable Controls. Retrieved from accountingtools: http://www.accountingtools.com/accounts-payable-controls
  6. ^ The Aberdeen Group: Scott Pezza, w. j. (2010, October). The E-payables Solution Selection Report: A Buyer's Guide to Accounts Payable optimization, page 4. Retrieved from www.adp.com: http://www.adp.com/p2p/pdf/White_Papers/Aberdeen_ePayables_Solution.pdf
  7. ^ The Institute of Financial Operations. (2012). A shift toward e-invoicing ecosystems, pg. 6. Retrieved from baseware: http://www.basware.com/sites/default/files/restricted/2012-global-e-invoicing-study.pdf?rrt=21
  8. ^ The Institute of Financial Operations. (2012). A shift toward e-invoicing ecosystems, pg. 6. Retrieved from baseware: http://www.basware.com/sites/default/files/restricted/2012-global-e-invoicing-study.pdf?rrt=21
  9. ^ Hill, M. G. (n.d.). A brief history of Electronic Data Interchange, pg 6. Retrieved from BizTalk Server 2000: A beginner's Guide: http://books.mcgraw-hill.com/downloads/products/0072190116/0072190116_ch01.pdf
  10. ^ GXS. (2013). A brief history retrieved from einvoicindbasics: http://www.einvoicingbasics.co.uk/what-is-e-invoicing/a-brief-history/
  11. ^ The Institite of Financial Operations. (2012). A shift toward e-invoicing ecosystems, pg. 6. Retrieved from baseware: http://www.basware.com/sites/default/files/restricted/2012-global-e-invoicing-study.pdf?rrt=21
  12. ^ Bruno Koch, G. (2013, April). E-Invoicing/ E-Billing. Retrieved from GSX: http://www.gxs.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/billentis-2013-report.pdf