Tag Archives: e-invoicing

What to look out for with e-billing

As you are aware, I am a big advocate of offering the customer the option of choosing how they receive their bills in paper or electronic format.transpromo

Ask anyone in business what their biggest headache is and the answer usually is getting paid on time.

The second is the cost of processing and sending invoices.

As the cost of technology has reduced more businesses including SMEs have or are considering implementing electronic invoicing/e-billing to save invoice processing costs.

The advantages of e-billing include the speed and control you have over your financial documents; you decide when your customer is sent an e-bill.

You save staff time, postage and stationery costs.

slider02But, trying to establish the true cost of billing is a lot harder than you think because most don’t consider all of the related costs.

Many assume that paper has to be more expensive because it involves staff time, stationery costs, processing and cost of postage.

Making electronic billing the obvious winner.

There have been many comparisons on paper versus electronic ranging from £8.17 to send out a paper invoice VS £3.31 to send it electronically.


Sending invoices as email attachments doesn’t constitute electronic billing.

E-billing may save on postage costs but this represents only a small percentage of the actual cost of processing an invoice.

How do you work out your invoicing costs?

What costs are associated with the invoicing process?

An organisation needs to be able to break down what the true costs are and these can be direct, indirect and those hidden costs that we tend to forget about.

What are the direct costs?

These include preparation of the invoice and are the most obvious costs to find in the process.

  • Printing
  • Envelopes
  • Inserting into envelopes – often a manual exercise this might also include a mailing machine
  • Postage costs

What are the indirect costs?

Although these costs are part of the invoice process they do not involve the preparation and sending of invoices and may or may not have a bearing on your invoice process.

Even so, they are often overlooked when working out the cost of invoicing and should be considered.

  • Queries and resolution – is the invoice accurate, does it have the required information. If it is wrong other functions in the organisation are involved including finance, credit control, operations, distribution and sales/customer service
  • Account reconciliation
  • Time spent on missing or undelivered invoices
  • Storage and archiving – how are invoices stored? As paper or electronically?
  • Credit notes – how long does it take for the company to generate a credit note, does it require hierarchical  approval, time taken to issue, delay in payment until the credit note is issued

multi channel services

What are the hidden costs?

Although not necessarily related to the processing of invoices they should be considered as part of the process

  • Payment processing errors
  • External debt collection agency fees
  • Staff time addressing and reviewing invoice problems
  • Additional finance costs due to the length of time time taken to get paid
  • Invoice financing or factoring costs.

Most of the costs associated with the invoicing process involve the number of staff that are involved in what can be a labour intensive task.

Even if the invoice preparation is streamlined and automated, if the order processing, AP and AR are manually intensive then the invoice processing will cost more in staff time such as:-

  1. Dealing with copy invoice requests
  2. Chasing purchase orders
  3. Chasing the sales team to solve pricing issues
  4. Reconciling accounts

iStock_000002289637SmallSending an invoice as an electronic attachment is not e-billing it is simply sending the customer an email with an invoice attached to it whilst it removes the postage and stationery element it is highly likely that your customer (the recipient) will print and allocate the invoice accordingly.

But it doesn’t take away the other costs associated with invoice processing like requests for copy invoices, misplaced invoices.

We never got your invoice, it never arrived in the post has been replaced with we never got your email.

Careful consideration of your invoice processing and understanding the true costs of the process can in the long term reduce the impact on the business.

Customers ultimately know they have to pay your bill the key is to making sure your bill is on time, consistent with the information they need to process the bill which in turn helps you gain visibility and enable better cash management and cash flow control.

Invoice processing – from paper to e-invoicing solutions


Document capture software

Document capture software can improve the speed of your invoice processing and e-invoices can also be incorporated into the flow.

Are you still printing and scanning PDF invoices from your suppliers?

As of January 1st 2013 the European Union issued new legislation that states companies can now store invoices in the format they are sent.

Having a document capture solution allows you to have invoices sent by email to a specific email address where data capture software will automatically retrieve the email and attachments, read the data and input it into the same flow as your paper invoices. Reducing the time taken, reducing costs and eliminating human error by automating the process.

By removing the need to print the invoice and then scan the document you are cutting down on paper usage.

Encouraging suppliers to send e-invoices by email ensures the process is faster and cheaper.

So how does the document capture solution work?

Data capture software automatically imports email attachments such as invoices, order forms and applications straight into the capture software where information is then extracted and managed.

The software automatically detects any attachment – PDF, XML, TIF, PNG and transfers it to the data capture software. Incoming mail attachments can be approved in a matter of seconds and as each email is processed it is removed from the mail server and archived, there is no limit on the number of invoices or forms entering the system as removing from the server will ensure there is no overload.

Forms processing and Automation Invoice Processing

‘Forms’ captures and processes all types of forms in any format. The software reads handwritten text, machine print, barcodes, check boxes, circles, tables and matrixes.

Automatic forms processing is much faster than the manual keying of information it reduces time and money and the information is accurate.

Automated Document Processing

‘Documents’ automates the processing of incoming email to cut operational costs typically by a third. Staff aren’t tied up in laborious tasks of sifting, sorting, identifying and classifying mail items this task is automatically managed by the process. Any incoming paper mail is added to the scanner without any separator sheets  and the software sorts and classifies the documents. Any electronic documents are easily incorporated into the flow.

E-invoicing solutions

E-invoicing solutions can detect any attachment PDF, TIF, XML, PNG and transfer it to the data capture software

Automated import of email attachments

‘Collector’ automatically imports email attachments such as invoices, order forms and applications straight into the capture software where the information is then extracted and interpreted.

Collector detects any attachment PDF, XML, TIF, PNG and transfers it to ReadSoft’s© data capture software.

Statistics on your invoice processing

The web based ‘reporter’ helps you keep track of documents and costs and provides accurate real time information.

Document capture software enables automation of invoices received via email and the benefits include:-

A reduction in handling costs as there is no need to manually check incoming email attachments. As long as they arrive in the correct inbox they are opened and imported automatically

  1. The speed of invoice processing is increased because incoming invoices are automatically entered on to the system
  2. Improved control as email is sorted automatically and all sender information is retained
  3. The software enables capturing of text files, PDF, XML, TIF, PNG from email attachments
  4. Importing of emailed invoices into the system is seamless
  5. Easy set up
  6. Completely transparent
  7. Seamless integration with the majority of financial systems

For more information on how to automate your invoice processing and to implement an e-invoicing solution please fill in the contact form and one of our expert advisors will be touch.

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E-Billing. A 10 point checklist to help you implement e-billing in your organisation!

This is the third article in our series that discusses how to reduce the paper flow through your office and speed up the Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable function!

With escalating postage and mailing costs any company that sends out bulk mail such as customer letters, invoices and statements requires the flexibility to adopt a combination of either electronic and paper or solely electronic mailings.

How do you implement e-billing?

Firstly it helps to understand what the definition of e-billing is.

e-billing, e-invoicing. Which is it?

e-billing, e-invoicing. Which is it?

E-billing is often referred  to as e-invoicing and customers often say “we are sending out invoices” so what is the difference?

The use of the two terms depends on your perspective as a buyer or a seller.

If you are buying in services managing incoming invoices within the accounts payable department the electronic invoicing process is part of the order to pay process and is e-invoicing.

E-invoicing is a buyer centric model where the buyer actively encourages its suppliers to send them electronic invoices.

If you are selling services and you are sending bills out to your customers via the accounts receivable department the electronic invoicing process is part of the order to cash process and is called e-billing.

E-billing is a supplier centric model where the supplier encourages its customers to receive electronic invoices instead of paper based ones and is less complex to implement than e-invoicing.

In both cases, invoices are processed but the difference is that those invoices that are inbound are referred to as e-invoices and those invoices that are outbound are e-bills. In each case invoices are processed but whether you are a seller or buyer determines whether the process is B2B e-invoicing or B2B e-billing.

Many companies and organisations alike will operate a combination of both the above processes but the functions may not be electronic or automated and likely to be manually intensive.

How do I get my customers to accept e-billing?

How do you adopt paperless billing?

How do you adopt paperless billing?

One of the first challenges presented by the customer is: ” it just won’t work our customers like paper too much!” to which my response “have you asked them?

If you want to achieve significant customer adoption then you don’t ask you have a strategic, planned, well thought out campaign to turn off paper and get your customers accepting e-bills.

For more information call us now

Here are 10 top tips to achieving ebilling uptake!

  1. Have a clearly defined idea and strategy as to how you intend to implement e-billing
  2. Do not think that by having a customer portal on your website where customers login and download their bill will drive your customers in droves to click and register so they can collect their bill. It wont work! Its a bit like asking your customers to drive to your reception and collect their invoices. In reality, they’ll do nothing because a customer portal requires registration, password and a download
  3. Think PDF, not a PDF attachment to an email but a PDF that is emailed to your customer, think engaging, personalised and interactive information that incorporates facts, figures andpersonalised marketing messages, are secure and has embedded data which can be extracted out of the PDF
  4. Have a clear strategy for collecting email addresses
  5. Use your website to drive paperless billing and to advise customers how easy it will be for them to switch off paper
  6. Use messages on all your printed invoices, statements, remittances and envelopes to turn off paper
  7. Have a sign up process on your website, on your paper invoices and statements
  8. Use an email pre-registration campaign for opt in and opt out to encourage the take up of paperless bills
  9. Use any marketing collateral sent out to advise customers you are moving to paperless billing to drive the message home
  10. Use the process to demonstrate your company’s on-going commitment to being green
When all is said and done you can’t hold a gun to your customers head and make them adopt e-bills there will always be customers that, for whatever reason want/need a paper bill or, who simply don’t want to change.
You can educate them as to how the process can streamline the billing process to ensure they see also reap the benefits of going paperless.
If you want to reduce the paper flow call us for an independent and impartial chat.
Have you adopted a paperless strategy?

How successful was it?

Can e-billing work for the SME or is it the sole preserve of the bigger corporations and Utility companies?

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8 Tips to consider when outsourcing billing


Outsourcing a business process is a viable and cost effective proposition for many businesses.

When you decide to outsource a business function such as outsourcing billing the risk can be minimised by ensuring you select the right partner.

I use this term because it has to be a relationship, one that works two ways, it’s not an association;  or “just the company we happen to use to do our billing, payrollprint function you are outsourcing it has to be a relationship designed to aid your business which translates onto your bottom line.

Your check list should include the following:


Deciding which business process should be outsourced is defined by what has become a bottle-neck in your company.

What process/processes are you considering outsourcing? – outsourcing billing, payroll, HR?

What selection process/mechanism are you going to use to find such a company?

Who is going to be responsible for managing the task of selecting the provider?

What criteria of selection should be used to disseminate the good from the bad?

Please don’t make this solely size of turnover or accreditation driven; there are just as many small and large companies doing just a good and bad job of providing services to the end user. If, after an initial discussion a potential supplier can satisfactorily demonstrate in-house quality, policy and procedures that are integral to you and your requirement then don’t rule them out of the picture!

How do I evaluate the service provisions on offer?

I would recommend you think about what credentials the supplier has i.e. years of expertise, references and case studies of projects undertaken. More importantly a genuine gut feel of the person(s) and the company you are talking too!

What are you asking the incumbent supplier to do/provide service wise?

What will my decision making criteria be based upon?

I urge caution here as a decision should never be price driven in our experience this has always been to the detriment of the company seeking to outsource and you will end up by shooting yourself in the foot. Partnering with a company who does it “cheaply” implies that they don’t  have the infrastructure to follow through which means they won’t or can’t deliver what you really want or have asked for!

When is a good deal EVER A GOOD DEAL?

When is a good deal ever a good deal? The cheapest price should never be your main criteria for selection.

When is a good deal ever a good deal? The cheapest price should never be your main criteria for selection.

Has a budget been set for the process OR what cost savings are you looking to achieve?

What timescales are you looking at to implement the project?

Right from the outset you must be clear that once a decision has been taken to outsource you determine a live start up date otherwise the time you spend investing in moving the project forward is worthless and the supplier feels frustrated as they have also invested time and goodwill in assisting with the outsourcing process!

What are your next steps?

Digital Print Management aim to provide an independent outsourcing services for electronic & paper billing, payroll, cheques and secure print management.

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5 Reasons to outsource your e billing.

An e-billing solution can be quick and effective if managed and implemented correctly.

e-billing is not sending a PDF bill as an attachment to an email.

The importance of optimising both a paperless and an e-billing process shouldn’t be underestimated! Both processes can co-exist in harmony.

E-billing provides a number of great features such as the option to retrieve documents in PDF, Excel, EDI, XML or CSV formats allowing you to view and interact with your online invoice/statement, query invoices and download copy invoices if required.

5 reasons why e-billing should be implemented alongside your current print and mailing process:

1. Get payments faster

Emailing your bills for payment can reduce your DSO (Days Sales Outstanding) cycle by as much as 70% by reducing the physical time taken to send out invoices to your customers.

Many companies emphasis the importance of sales, sales, sales yet are inefficient managing debtors often complying with payment terms that are in excess of their own terms.

Why supply a company that takes that long to pay after you’ve supplied the goods or services?

Here’s the real conundrum what is the point of telling your sales force to be proactive in generating sales if the company is not managing the payment terms with your customers?

Accounts payable solutions are designed to speed up the process and distribution of statements and invoices. By reducing the turnaround for example from 4 to 1 day for posting/emailing out your invoices, but enforcing company payment terms are ineffective then the benefit for e-billing is largely negated!

2. Current financial climate

The current climate requires effective payment strategies and reducing the time taken for a customer to pay has a positive effect on your bottom-line. Helping the company to grow and remain competitive.

Having a robust credit management system designed solely to get the cash in for the business supports the billing effort!

Has e-billing replaced paper based billing?

Choosing an end to end invoice processing and scanning solution will speed up the accounts payable process and e-billing is a part of that process.

3. The easier you make the process the easier it is for your customer to pay

An effective e-billing solutions allows bills to be delivered as secure electronic documents directly into the customers inboxes without any link to a site to register and collect invoices.

Incorporated in to the body of the bill should be a payment option using a form within the invoice or a link to the company’s payment website, this in turn facilitates quicker payment because if the customer has opened the email, viewed the invoice, the psychology is simply “I’m there now so I may as well pay it!”

4. Transpromo marketing

An effective eBilling solution provides the opportunity to cross sell or up sell services and products by utilising messages displayed in the bill?

Marketing messages can be added to each bill both within the email and on the e-bill attachment. By taking advantage of the process you are driving qualified traffic to your website to potentially re-order or view more of your goods and services.

5. Keeping up with technology

There is an assumption that moving to e-billing will be costly and difficult to implement internally which is a valid argument. But by outsourcing the process, there is no need for big spending on software as the e-billing provider takes care of that keeping the cost of implementation to a minimum improving efficiency, reducing costs from the generation of the e-bill to the pay process.

After all is said and done the take up of e-billing is slow in the UK particularly when compared to the rest of Europe. According to Deutsche Bank research only 10% of companies in the UK undertook a strategic move to e-invoicing in 2010! Many companies have adopted an e-billing process but are quick to point out that the take up has been slow and almost two-s third of their customers prefer a paper bill.

What do you think?

Have you implemented an e-bill solution? Is it working effectively? Do you use paper and e-bills as well? What strategy have you employed to encourage your customers to take up e-billing?

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