Electronic Billing | Netsend http://netsend.com e-invoicing and e-billing solutions for business Tue, 22 May 2018 17:20:30 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 http://netsend.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/cropped-Netsend_Stacked_CMYK_square-1-32x32.png Electronic Billing | Netsend http://netsend.com 32 32 Ebilling – as part of the MBA in Credit Management http://netsend.com/blog/electronic-billing/ebilling-as-part-of-the-mba-in-credit-management/ Wed, 04 Apr 2018 13:30:13 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=3543 As a leader in the ebilling space, we were recently asked to contribute to course materials for a module on ebilling, as part of a larger MBA in Credit Management.  It’s an honour to help shape the academic understanding of such an important field. The MBA materials we have created address Philosophy, Policy and Process […]

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As a leader in the ebilling space, we were recently asked to contribute to course materials for a module on ebilling, as part of a larger MBA in Credit Management.  It’s an honour to help shape the academic understanding of such an important field.

The MBA materials we have created address Philosophy, Policy and Process considerations for ebilling, as well as presenting a case study on ebilling for real-life context.

So, where does one start when learning about ebilling?  With a firm grasp of the ‘why’ to ebilling; the philosophy underpinning it.  We broke this philosophy down into sections, starting with challenges faced when using traditional billing.  Ebilling arose as advances in technology offered a route to tackle these challenges, evolving in sympathy with buyers’ needs and a range of internal drivers.

Ebilling Philosophy

From a philosophical perspective, ebilling exists to support the accounts receivable team’s need to bring cash into the business quickly and efficiently.  This needs to be carefully balanced against the demands on a seller to invoice, or bill, in a way that suits buyers.  In a world where customer loyalty is low, and businesses face growing competition, it pays to adapt billing to meet buyers’ needs.

We also explain, in light of customer experience management, how businesses need to view billing as part of their brand connection with customers, considering the ramifications of how all aspects of their billing process influence existing and potential customers.

Overall, ebilling philosophy is about supporting the needs of the business directly through improving cashflow, insight and enhancing Accounts Receivable efficiency, and indirectly through the ability to better meet customers’ needs and expectations, whilst improving customer experience and perception of the brand.

Ebilling Policy

Once the philosophy behind ebilling is understood, this can be put into context via principles set out in an ebilling policy.  Policies need to evolve over time, adapting to external factors but driven by internal stakeholders who have a firm grasp of the ebilling philosophy.

Ebilling policy should encompass communications, formatting, standards, integration, administration and risk management policies.

Policy ultimately drives process, so establishing a detailed and extensive ebilling policy makes it easier to develop effective ebilling processes that deliver on the overarching philosophy.

The communication policy should set out whether push or pull ebilling processes are emphasised for ebilling communications, and what options are available for each of these.  Formatting and standards policy outlines which standards are adhered to and formatting considerations relating to these.  It should also outline how future standards and formatting requirements will be incorporated and how legal requirements, such as EU Directive 2014/55/EU are supported.

Integration policy provides the business with guidance on how all aspects of integration with external data sources and accounts payable systems, or VANs, needs to be undertaken.  This policy drives the creation of individual processes for each integration requirement.

Administration policy for ebilling should outline administration hierarchy within the business, including workflow for all aspects of communication creation, reporting, action on exceptions and escalation pathways.  Policy should be designed to streamline responsibilities and access, providing the greatest overview with the least complexity for the most senior roles.  Administration policy should also take into account the option for handing-off to outsourced partners for faster resolution of issues, where appropriate.

Finally, risk management policy ensures risk is managed appropriately throughout the ebilling process.  Risk management will be shaped by a combination of factors, including the organisation’s philosophy or appetite for risk, the industry they trade in, the mix of customers, margin achieved and both internal and external risks to security.

Ebilling Process

The ebilling Process is the manifestation of associated policy, reflecting the organisation’s ebilling philosophy, through specific tasks and routines.  Documentation of the ebilling process is required to ensure tasks adhere to the agreed policy.

The ebilling process is made up of a number of process areas, each defining tasks relevant to their area.  The overarching process documentation presents a management-level view of how policies are applied to deliver on the ebilling philosophy of the business.

The ebilling process should encompass the following aspects:

  1. Ebilling Production Process
  2. Distribution and Communication Process
  3. Payment Handling Process
  4. Reporting Process
  5. Escalation and Dispute Resolution Process
  6. Management and Process Automation

To ensure ebilling success, processes must be reviewed and refined by their process owners – utilising insight from reporting and reflection on how we the process implements policy and supports the overarching philosophy.  Processes should evolve over time and may even feed back into policy review.

Ebilling isn’t just academic

As a leading supplier of outsourced ebilling services, we put all of the above academic considerations into practice on a daily basis.  Approaching ebilling with a thought to philosophy first, policy second and process third, ensures completeness and delivers ebilling success more quickly and consistently than jumping straight into process application.

Not everyone has the time or resources to study for an MBA and become familiar with the detail around these points, but outsourcing your ebilling requirements to Netsend provides you with the assurance that the approach will follow this best practice.

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Auditing and audit trail for e-invoicing and document distribution http://netsend.com/blog/auditing/auditing-audit-trail-e-invoicing-document-distribution/ Wed, 21 Feb 2018 11:15:18 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=3534 Auditing in Accounts Receivable used to be a painful process, as it can still be for many businesses.  However, with the advent of e-invoicing this needn’t be the case.  Electronic documents, such as e-invoices, can be searched for and found programmatically – saving hours of rifling through filing cabinets. Since the 1st January 2013, the […]

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Auditing in Accounts Receivable used to be a painful process, as it can still be for many businesses.  However, with the advent of e-invoicing this needn’t be the case.  Electronic documents, such as e-invoices, can be searched for and found programmatically – saving hours of rifling through filing cabinets.

Since the 1st January 2013, the European Council Directive requires all EU members to afford the same legal status to electronic invoice processes as they do paper invoice processes.  As a result of this, e-invoices must have associated data guaranteeing the authenticity of the origin, integrity of the content and legibility of the invoice made accessible for auditing purposes.

Electronic invoicing systems are also required, by EU law, to store e-invoices in their original format, as well as an associated human-readable format if the original is purely machine-readable.

The consequence of these requirements is that electronic invoicing systems provide easy access to e-invoicing, invoicing histories and associated documents – typically enabling large-scale extraction and presentation of records for auditing purposes.

When electronic invoicing is done well, there should be full traceability of communication flow and engagement from customers with communications and associated invoicing processes.  Every point of contact and system engagement should leave an trace that can be used to determine the status of payment and/or awareness of payment requirements – supporting associated AR actions to bring the cash in to the business, and auditing this process.

 

Easy risk assessment for auditing requirements

e-invoicing systems enable the following risk assessments to be easily met and even automated.  Reporting on the scenarios below ensures accounts receivable are managed in an optimal fashion and no nasty surprises come to light through the auditing process.

  • Checking for receivables that do not exist
  • Checking for inaccurate receivable balances
  • Identifying incorrectly recognized revenue
  • Identifying collection problems with accounts receivable
  • Checking allowance for doubtful accounts reflects previous bad debt experience
  • Checking for sales transactions not processed in the correct periods

 

Beyond the audit trail – real-time visibility of invoicing progress

The benefits of e-invoicing in facilitating audit processes is clear, but audits should hopefully be few and far between.  A related benefit, more valuable in a day-to-day context, is the ability to have a real-time view of invoicing (and payment) processes.

Leading e-invoicing platforms, such as Netsend, emphasise the use of pull communications (rather than push communications) – meaning that customers are encouraged to click through from communications to an online portal to find their invoicing information.  This enables users to be tracked as they access their invoicing information and take any actions via the portal – e.g. acknowledging receipt of invoice, intention to pay or payment.

This online tracking provides AR departments and credit controllers that ability to quickly identify the status of specific invoices and accounts.  This real-time information can feed into management dashboards and be used to both track and improve business cash flow.

 

Audit trail for document distribution

It’s not just invoicing that can benefit from improvements in tracking and visibility.  Document distribution is becoming increasingly electronic in nature, even for business critical and legally sensitive documents.  With the advent of trust services, defined in the recent eIDAS regulation, more and more legal documents such as contracts are sent electronically; as there can be complete trust in recipient authenticity and content integrity.  This presents and opportunity for businesses who distribute their documents electronically to track receipt and engagement, in much the same way as e-invoicing systems do.

With systems designed to track and record which documents were sent to whom, when, and were engaged with in what specific way, this provides a detailed audit trail for sensitive documents.

Whether businesses need to meet compliance requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley, or other mandates to preserve records and interactions for a number of years, electronic records are a far easier format to store both documents and map the relation between these and communications involving them.

 

Why wait for an audit – turn communication insight into competitive advantage

Whilst e-invoicing and electronic document distribution enable ease of auditing, the insight they can provide is far more valuable for day-to-day business advantage.  Understanding the status of each invoice in the collections process, provides an unparalleled handle on cash flow into the business.  Where anomalies occur, these can be acted on immediately – even automatically.

Document distribution can also provide analytical insights to improve responses and reduce the requirement for exception handling by staff.  With the advent of robotic process automation, and indeed artificial intelligence as part of such systems, manual exception handling can be learned from to improve the scope of automated responses.

Whether communications directly affect cash flow or service delivery, or form part of the broader customer communication remit, knowing whether they have been received and the status of response provides valuable and actionable insight.

In high-churn markets, it’s critical to respond to delays or blockages in customer communications, or risk losing business.  Managing document distribution electronically, and automating where possible, presents competitive advantage in this regard.

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How to Solve the Sales vs. Credit Control Battle http://netsend.com/blog/credit-control/how-to-solve-the-sales-vs-credit-control-battle/ Fri, 13 Oct 2017 15:56:44 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=3262 The post How to Solve the Sales vs. Credit Control Battle appeared first on Netsend.

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It never ceases to amaze me that many squabbling factions can still comprise a successful business.  The case of sales vs. credit control is a classic example of this.

From the perspective of a sales person in a business whose main customers are credit controller departments, I’m privy to a unique perspective on this age-old divide.  In the most successful businesses, these two departments work seamlessly together – two equally valuable sides of the same process.  In businesses where this isn’t the case, there’s room for growth and improvement in efficiency when these departments are drawn together to work more effectively.


The Sales Perspective

As sales teams strive hard to win deals, it’s understandable that frustration is felt if credit control refuse to extend credit to close a deal.  Those who have worked in, or close to, a sales department may have heard inaccurate, but popular, reference to credit control as ‘the risk department’ or ‘order prevention’ at times.

There are many sales people out there who will go to great lengths to avoid involving credit control in the sales process – fearing they will shut down a promising deal, for undue worry about their ability to pay.

But stop and think about it.  If a deal is genuinely at risk of going unpaid, is it worth ‘closing’ anyway?  Credit control have no negative agenda, they are simply watchful to ensure credit isn’t overextended and cashflow is reliable.  So, let’s understand their side of the story…

The Credit Control Perspective 

Where credit control can be accused of being too cautious, the inverse can be true of their view of sales.  Credit control departments have to pick up the fallout from sales committing to working with unreliable clients who may struggle to meet invoice payment deadlines.

There’s a popular saying in credit control departments – “It’s not sold until it’s paid for”.  It’s no good winning the biggest deal, if the money can’t be brought in.  Businesses rely on cashflow, and it’s up to the credit control department to ensure that the money is brought in.

Understandably, it only takes a few bad experiences before credit control departments can be heard referring to members of the sales team as ‘sharks’ who will ‘sign anyone up, regardless of the risk’.

We should pause for thought here too, as how many sales people are educated on risk factors for payment, or encouraged to work collaboratively with credit control to ensure deals are landed that stand the best chance of success?

Reconciliation for Success

Reconciling sales and credit control, through better mutual understanding, and communication, is key to addressing any divide.  It’s common for businesses to focus on improving performance by training and educating within the narrow band of each employee’s designated role.  But great value can be achieved by interdepartmental training – particularly between complimentary departments such as sales and credit control.

Encouraging a tighter working relationship between sales and credit control will ultimately enable the business to chase more profitable business

Consider how much less time would be wasted if sales teams filtered out high-risk opportunities, which would be shut down by credit control anyway, before they progressed things too far.  Encouraging a tighter working relationship between sales and credit control will ultimately enable the business to chase more profitable business, more quickly, and ensure greater reliability in cashflow.  Benefits could also be measured in improvements in DSO or delinquency.

Taking the concept of sales and credit control collaboration further still, credit control could proactively furnish sales teams with information about any existing clients who have an uplift in credit-rating.  This would imply that they are growing, or at least present a lower credit risk.  Sales teams could use this insight to drive higher sales volumes with these clients.

Better Tools, Better Working

Tools such as credit information resources can provide inter-departmental value, as mentioned above, but what other tools exist to improve this working relationship?  At Netsend, we find that some of our clients rely on Netsend to provide deep insight into what is being sold where.  In some cases, detail of specific product sales, in specific locations, is only apparent from invoicing records.  Beyond this, our clients use Netsend to identify late-payers and address these, as well as calculating credit risks based in insight not available to credit information resources.

Sales teams can also benefit from knowing when a customer is facing payment reminders, so they can either hold back from trying to grow a troubled account, or even assist in the communication process to bring the cash in more quickly.

Ultimately sales and credit control are two sides of the same process, and both rely on the overall health of the business (i.e. cashflow) being optimal to ensure ongoing security and growth within their departments.  Working more closely together, and sharing data from appropriate tools and services, leads to a more efficient business and better working environment for all.

 

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Eradicating Negative Cash Flow http://netsend.com/blog/eradicating-negative-cash-flow/ Mon, 05 Jun 2017 08:56:32 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=2776 By Arthur Kaufman, Independent writer and speaker  Let me start by saying I am eminently unqualified to write what you’re about to read.  I have no qualifications in finance, banking or the credit industry, nor any experience in running a business of any kind.   Even so, I am entitled to offer my thoughts or should […]

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By Arthur Kaufman, Independent writer and speaker 

Let me start by saying I am eminently unqualified to write what you’re about to read.  I have no qualifications in finance, banking or the credit industry, nor any experience in running a business of any kind.   Even so, I am entitled to offer my thoughts or should I say my wonder on the subject of credit, especially of a commercial and a personal nature, which together in the UK alone has reached the multi-trillion mark and which obviously worries many economists despite their lack of consistency in most other aspects of lending and borrowing money.

Negative Cash Flow a Thing of the Past

My wonder about such matters is as follows: If say, by any chance however remote, every business and person who had outstanding debts, whether for money owed on products, labour, loans or other commitments too numerous to mention, suddenly were able to settle all they owed and actually tried to do so, what would be the result?  Would it be good, bad, unpredictable or totally chaotic with no solution in sight?

The advantages of modern technology is that information can now move with the speed of light

Given that it would take a little time for all repayment transactions to go through (including penalties in cases of early settlement), the advantages of modern technology, where information can move with the speed of light thereby ensuring that on the ‘big’ day in question, everybody and every legally defined body would be free of debt, in line with the rare few who always pay their bills as soon as received.

For those worried over too much outstanding debt and often pressured (or chased) to honour what is long overdue, I suppose there would be instant relief.  For those firms or institutions who provide loans and credit, presumably they would be overwhelmed with more money than what they knew what to do with, even though the lack of cash flow would (at least in theory) be a thing of the past.

Déjà vu

If you’ve read this far, you will be aware that a state of ‘No Owe’ raises other problems.  Is having credit and its level increasing at what seems an unsustainable rate preferable to getting rid of it altogether, even if only temporarily?  In attempting to do so, would most businesses suffer beyond repair or, instead, then be able to have a good look at themselves, with a once in a lifetime opportunity of making a fresh start by allowing the best in their brain reserves to have a hard think about avoiding what could be another very black financial hole.

The system underlying this has collapsed under its own mass because of mismanagement, greed, or a seemingly uncontrollable momentum of its own, which occurred in the not so distant past.

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Accounts Receivable Best Practice: 7 Steps for Improving Productivity http://netsend.com/blog/accounts-receivable-best-practice-7-steps-for-improving-productivity/ Mon, 08 May 2017 08:48:31 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=2617 The post Accounts Receivable Best Practice: 7 Steps for Improving Productivity appeared first on Netsend.

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Accounts Receivable best practice has at least one element in common with virtually any other best practice recommendation for business.  Lose the paper, go digital.  It’s staggering to think that, even in some global businesses, AR teams may be printing, folding and stuffing paper invoices into envelopes for post.

Paper is fast becoming a relic from bygone days, at least in a business sense.  It’s just not efficient enough for the pace of modern business.  Even at a personal level, it’s easy to identify with the inefficiencies of paper-based processes.  How frequently do you write letters these days, when instant communication is but an email away?

Working with global businesses, to improve productivity in Accounts Receivable teams, has enabled us to identity a number of key areas for AR process improvement.

Accounts Receivable Best Practice #1: Efficiency

Best practice in Accounts Receivable is driven by the need for improved business efficiency.  The biggest threat to business success is, often, wasted time.  Replacing paper-based invoice generation with electronic invoicing enables automation of AR processes, freeing up the AR team to focus on more profitable activities that require the nuances of a human touch – such as chasing down late payments and resolving credit issues.

Accounts Receivable Best Practice #2: Visibility of Payment Status

Beyond plain efficiency, AR best practice should include improved visibility of invoicing status.  E-invoicing achieves exactly this, with the ability to identify what was sent to whom, whether it was received, or even read, and when.  With advanced e-invoicing solutions, such as Netsend, customers can even mark an invoice, electronically, to indicate payment intent, or pay directly online there and then.

Improved visibility provides insight that can be acted on, to support credit controllers in reducing late-payments and disputes.

Accounts Receivable Best Practice #3: Chasing Payments

One of the most valuable roles AR teams play is to chase down payments and bring the cash into the business as quickly as possible.  Collecting money fast is always a major competitive edge.

A well-structured e-invoicing solution should be able to provide an at-a-glance view of outstanding payments, or even a pre-emptive list of habitual late payers to chase before they are due.  Sometimes a simple statement can be sent as a timely reminder, encouraging payment.  Automation rules can be set to assist with this process and preserve the AR team’s time for more complex or sensitive payment conversations.

Integrating e-invoicing with credit collection software such as Ero57 enables seamless and secure access to sensitive documents, and messaging workflows, expediting credit collection. Where possible, this should be a consideration for improving productivity in an AR team.

Accounts Receivable Best Practice #4: Security, Compliance and Ease of Auditing

Whilst security doesn’t necessarily enhance productivity, it’s still made it onto this list as an essential consideration for AR best practice.  Given the sensitivity of invoicing information and customer payments, it’s essential that any digital transformation of Accounts Receivable processes – from e-invoicing to automation – complies with industry standards such as ISO 27001:2013.

VAT compliance can be met most efficiently via the use of digital signatures and online record keeping, although many businesses still unnecessarily encumber themselves with paper-based records for the same purpose.

Auditing can prove painful for AR teams when invoice records are stored in paper format.  Modern, electronic, systems enable much faster access to documents via search and present the opportunity to generate reports for auditors at the touch of a button.

Accounts Receivable Best Practice #5: Integration with Accounts Payable

The flip-side of every invoice sent is the payment process.  In a B2B context, Accounts Payable teams, and increasingly automated AP systems, need to process invoices before payments can be made.  Integration of invoice distribution with AP systems is growing in importance as a way to simplify and expedite the payment process.

In some cases, Accounts Receivable teams are manually inputting invoices into customers’ AP systems.  Where possible, AR teams should deploy e-invoicing solutions that have connectors for the payment systems they need to integrate with, saving time on inefficient manual processing.

Accounts Receivable Best Practice #6: Supporting Paper

We do not live in a perfect world, consequently many businesses find the need to support a percentage of customers who still require paper invoices.  Industry average conversion rates for customers to accept electronic format invoices are around 60%, although at Netsend we often achieve in excess of 80% conversion within a matter of months.  To achieve the best efficiency gains from electronic invoicing and AR automation it’s essential to handle the remaining paper-based percentage via the same process.

Best practice in this regard is to process all invoices in the same manner, but directing those who require paper to be printed and posted by an offsite solution partner.  This removes the need to maintain print and postage hardware in-house and for the manual fulfilment of this time-consuming process.  Including within the same invoicing solution enables aggregation of invoicing records and improves reporting, auditing and overall efficiency.

Accounts Receivable Best Practice #7: Outsourcing

Few businesses stop to think about it, but we all outsource postal delivery to the postal service.  It’s simply not efficient to run your own postal service.

Indeed, the point above (#6: Supporting Paper) follows a similar line, in that best practice in supporting paper-based invoices is to outsource the whole print and postage process to enhance efficiency.  For instance, at Netsend, we often leverage print and post at a hub within the destination country for the invoices, saving time and cost on international delivery.  However, these efficiencies are only achievable through economies of scale brought about by the volume of printed invoices we handle for clients on a global scale.

So, printing and posting of invoices are best practice to outsource, but what of the electronic invoicing and AR automation solutions themselves?

As businesses embrace cloud-based and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions, it’s common wisdom that high up-front investment in solutions is often better offset in favour of an as-a-service solution funded through savings in operational expenditure.

Companies who attempt to develop and maintain e-invoicing solutions in-house are faced with a massive task.  Whilst it’s certainly possible to do this, there’s a reason why global corporates such as 21st Century Fox, Pizza Hut and VF Corporation choose to outsource their e-invoicing to Netsend.  It is simply not economically viable for most businesses to develop and maintain an e-invoicing solution in-house, keeping on top of evolving invoicing standards and technology requirements.

Outsourcing may raise questions about control and risk, but these are easily addressed.  The control remains within the business, as you dictate the requirements, and the outsource partner provides assurances by way of contractual obligations and service level agreements.

By delegating the responsibility you’re allowing someone else to take care of the details and address any risks. Outsourcing allows you to tap in to the knowledge, experience and capabilities most suited to successfully realise the task.

 

For more information about the value of outsourcing your e-invoicing take a look at our FAQ document.

 

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Accounts Receivable Automation: Reduce Repetitive Tasks http://netsend.com/blog/accounts-receivable-automation-reduce-repetitive-tasks/ Thu, 27 Apr 2017 10:36:32 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=2621 The post Accounts Receivable Automation: Reduce Repetitive Tasks appeared first on Netsend.

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Accounts Receivable Automation should be on the agenda for any business who hasn’t already embraced it.  We’re not talking about replacing humans with machines here, we’re talking about working smarter and embracing technology to empower AR teams to be more productive.

For any business already sending invoices electronically, automating invoice production and distribution is a simple extension of this process.  Few businesses would adopt e-invoicing without integrating this with Accounts Receivable systems to automatically generate and distribute invoices.

Automating Accounts Receivable processes means more than just electronic invoicing.  With typical levels of e-invoicing adoption sitting at 60% (at Netsend this is over 80%), this still leaves a good 40% of invoices to be sent by post.  Automating print and postage either requires significant investment in equipment, or simply outsourcing this to an expert partner and benefiting from economies of scale.  Print and postage time is one of the more manual requirements AR teams are often saddled with, removing the need for this frees up the team to focus on more valuable activities.

AR Automation – beyond invoicing

AR Automation goes beyond invoices.  Consider the time spent sending messages to chase late payers – whether overdue, or habitually late.  Automation rules can be set to trigger reminders based on invoice amount (avoid delays on large invoices which can hurt cashflow), payment history or whether the recipient has opened the original invoice.  Automation does away with the risk of accidentally reminding the wrong person, or missing out those who need reminding most.

Automation can also be used, in conjunction with e-invoicing, to generate a list of contacts who have not paid, or even opened their initial invoices.  Automation rules can be set to compliment reminder messages and statements, ensuring the appropriate level of contact is applied to bring payments in as swiftly as possible.

Reduce Support Calls into Accounts Receivable

Repetitive tasks for Accounts Receivable also include the need to answer the same types of support requests from customers, such as invoice reprints or access to invoicing histories.  Whilst Automation itself cannot reduce these calls, the best AR Automation solutions, such as Netsend, provide an online portal for customers to access their invoices securely.  This portal can also provide access to invoicing history, links to pay invoices online, options to print and download invoices and a route to edit contact details or related information.

Handling the most common support requests through extended functionality in an online portal reduces calls into the AR department, freeing up the team to focus on payment cases where a human touch is required.

Report Automation for Accounts Receivable

When AR teams aren’t issuing invoices, or chasing down payments, they’re providing information on cashflow to the wider business.  Given the nature of reports required, a large percentage of these, or at least the data that is presented in them, can be automated.  Better still, AR Automation can alert members of the team to specific conditions that warrant reporting or acting on – turning a typically reactive process into something proactive.

The most valuable asset to any business is ultimately people.  Think about the human qualities and experience that is underused in your AR department.  Reducing repetitive tasks and freeing the team up to bring this to bear on situations that need it will have a direct impact on cashflow.

Collecting money fast is always a major competitive edge, so empowering the AR team with AR Automation has far-reaching benefits.  Find out more about how AR Automation can make a difference to your business, or get in touch to hear how Netsend can help you achieve this.

 

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What is PEPPOL? http://netsend.com/blog/what-is-peppol/ Mon, 03 Apr 2017 08:00:57 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=2490 PEPPOL, which stands for Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line, is an EDI (electronic data interchange) protocol, designed to simplify the purchase-to-pay process between government bodies and suppliers.  Put simply, PEPPOL facilitates electronic ordering, invoicing and shipping between government organisations and private companies. The need for PEPPOL has arisen from historic inefficiencies and limitations in the way […]

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PEPPOL, which stands for Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line, is an EDI (electronic data interchange) protocol, designed to simplify the purchase-to-pay process between government bodies and suppliers.  Put simply, PEPPOL facilitates electronic ordering, invoicing and shipping between government organisations and private companies.

The need for PEPPOL has arisen from historic inefficiencies and limitations in the way that government bodies procure from their suppliers.  Typically, a government body would have a small set of approved suppliers – familiar and able to meet their order processing and fulfilment needs – and rarely reach beyond these.  Traditional purchase processes have evolved little over the last few decades, the advent of PEPPOL seeks to shake things up for the better.

PEPPOL is notably the EDI protocol chosen by the National Health Service in the UK (NHS) to achieve efficiency improvement and meet the government initiative of saving £22bn by 2020.

What problems does PEPPOL solve?

In the context of the NHS, PEPPOL is seen as improving procurement efficiency through the enablement of electronic ordering, delivery notes and e-invoicing.  Suppliers to NHS trusts will make PEPPOL-compliant catalogues available, from which products can be automatically ordered.  EDI enables full automation of the purchase process, and simplifies the task for suppliers to create delivery notes and invoices.

Aside from day-to-day efficiency, the requirement for PEPPOL as a standard across all NHS trusts and suppliers creates a more open and competitive market.  Consequently, NHS trusts will experience greater cost efficiency in procurement – selecting goods from the best value supplier at the time.  Additionally, greater visibility of stock-levels and speed of procurement brings benefits such as Just-in-Time ordering that have significantly reduced warehousing and wastage costs in retail and automotive industries.

Suppliers are set to benefit too, with easy access to a broader network of buyers.  Competitive conditions will improve cost-efficiency for NHS trusts, but also empower suppliers to scale up and achieve sales volumes that were previously limited.

Furthermore, the implementation of PEPPOL vastly simplifies the task of tracking products from purchase to deployment.  The standardisation of labelling, through GS1 compliance, and PEPPOL EDI means that a particular range of products can easily be traced and recalled from market if required.  In the context of medical supplies, recall and management of previously unknown side-effects in existing patients is a crucial standard to uphold.

What does PEPPOL consist of?

PEPPOL isn’t an e-procurement, or e-invoicing system.  PEPPOL is a set of open technical specifications that facilitate interoperability and trading between connected parties.  Connection to the PEPPOL network is via a PEPPOL access point, typically a service provided by an e-invoicing or e-procurement solution provider.

PEPPOL compliance centres around the exchange of PEPPOL-compliant documents, between buyer and supplier, such as e-catalogues, e-orders, e-despatch notes and e-invoices.  This exchange is done across the PEPPOL network, via respective Access Points (gateways).

For documents to be PEPPOL-compliant, they need to adhere to specifications outlined in PEPPOL Business Interoperability Specifications (BIS) v2.

You can find more information about PEPPOL in our PEPPOL FAQ Document here.

What do NHS trusts need to know about PEPPOL?

As a public authority, NHS trusts must adopt e-invoicing in public procurement using a common European standard by November 2018.  It is broadly accepted that PEPPOL is the most relevant standard to adopt, and in doing so, NHS trusts will become aligned with the requirements set out in the EU Directive.

PEPPOL-compliant e-invoicing is one aspect of the larger drive to improve efficiency across the NHS.  Part of this drive includes a mandate that NHS trusts should be using the PEPPOL EDI protocol, with GS1 labelling and location coding standards, for the majority of transactions with suppliers by 2020.

So, there are two deadlines:

  • PEPPOL-compliant e-invoicing – by November 2018
  • PEPPOL-compliant, and GS1-compliant, e-procurement processes (for the majority of transactions) by 2020

There are many challenges ahead for NHS trusts in the deployment of PEPPOL.  Currently (early 2017), NHS trusts are looking to the handful of demonstrator sites within the NHS for learnings and guidance on the best way to implement GS1 and PEPPOL compliance.  As these sites release early-stage learnings, the path to PEPPOL compliance will become clearer.

In addition to the technical challenges of PEPPOL compliance, NHS trusts also need to find budget to invest in PEPPOL.  Whilst the long-term savings through efficiency gains are substantial, this reduction in operational expenditure does little to support the immediate need for capital expenditure.

What do NHS suppliers need to know about PEPPOL?

Suppliers are set to benefit from vastly improved efficiency, as GS1-compliant electronic purchase orders are raised and transmitted by PEPPOL-compliant EDI.  These electronic purchase orders can trigger automated delivery and the generation of an electronic invoice.

Savings will arise from greater automation.  Presenting invoices electronically, in a format that can be automatically processed by NHS trusts, will also result in reduced delinquency and DSO (days sales outstanding).  Collecting money fast is always a major competitive edge, so embracing the e-invoicing side of PEPPOL, ahead of competitors, is a strategic advantage.  The improved cashflow, resulting from this, will enable growth and improve profitability.

The onus will be on suppliers to deliver PEPPOL-compliant documents such as e-catalogues, despatch notes and e-invoices for NHS trusts to consume and integrate with their e-procurement processes.   For documents to be PEPPOL-compliant, they need to adhere to specifications outlined in the PEPPOL Business Interoperability Specifications (BIS) v2.

What is the easiest way to become PEPPOL compliant?

As with any business decision, the cost-case for investing in PEPPOL needs to present a return on investment as swiftly as possible.  The breadth of requirements for full PEPPOL-compliant eProcurement presents an investment conundrum for NHS trusts and suppliers alike – how to make this investment before budget is available from the savings achieved.

One of the best approaches to this challenge is to deploy PEPPOL-compliant e-invoicing as a first stage.  Both suppliers and NHS trusts stand to make substantial savings through electronic invoicing.  These savings can then be reinvested in the broader requirements of full PEPPOL-compliant eProcurement.

In the context of invoice generation, as opposed to invoice processing, solutions such as Netsend, present an attractive business case.  With a minimal upfront investment, setup costs are offset and become part of operational expenditure.  This equates to a lower barrier to adoption, enabling suppliers to extract competitive advantage and business gain rapidly.

 

Talk to us today and find out how Netsend is able to support PEPPOL-compliant e-invoicing.  Or you can find more information about PEPPOL in our PEPPOL FAQ Document here.

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e-billing predictions for 2017 http://netsend.com/blog/electronic-invoicing/e-billing-predictions-for-2017/ Tue, 20 Dec 2016 14:43:58 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=2268 The post e-billing predictions for 2017 appeared first on Netsend.

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At Netsend, we strive to stay one step ahead of market demand.  In order to do so, we take e-billing predictions for 2017 very seriously indeed.  Listening to our clients’ changing needs, as well as industry and broader technology developments, helps us keep our finger on the digital pulse.

So, what are our e-billing predictions for 2017?  We’ve broken these down into the following topics.  All of which we expect to see play an important role in e-billing and e-invoicing over the coming year.

Growth in e-billing

As the growth in bills is expected to exceed 37 billion per annum in Europe, a greater percentage of these will be sent electronically.  With e-billing growing at a rate of approximately 20% year-on-year globally, a number of factors are expected to drive this rate even higher in Europe in 2017.

One global driver for the growth in e-billing is the increasing evidence of cost savings and performance improvement, from businesses who have deployed e-billing solutions over the last few years.  And where businesses operate in competitive markets, the ability to integrate electronically with reseller channel partners, as well as swiftly address cashflow blockages, is creating significant competitive advantage.

The value of data; creating competitive advantage

It’s not just the greater agility and cashflow improvement that creates competitive advantage from e-billing and e-invoicing.  Many businesses are starting to make good on the promise of competitive advantage through better understanding of their data.  Whilst insight from big data analytics will continue to emerge and mature in 2017, many businesses will seek the quick-win advantages of better insight into their payment process.

Billing data can provide insight into performance in different markets, as well as enabling proactive steps to be taken to improve cashflow.  More businesses than ever before will use e-billing data to create a competitive advantage in 2017.

Software is in, hardware is out

The trend towards off-site, as-a-service and outsourced solutions is set to continue.  Gartner predicts IT spending will reach $3.5 trillion in 2017, with much of this being spent on software solutions, rather than hardware.

It’s easy to understand the reasons behind this trend.  In the uncertain economic conditions of recent years, few businesses wanted to put capital expenditure into hardware, and associated skills to administrate it, that may become obsolete within a few years.  Consequently, the lower-risk, as-a-service model has flourished – shifting CapEx to OpEx and reducing risks to boot.

e-billing and e-invoicing solutions are a good fit in the form of as-a-service, or outsourced solutions, as monthly solution costs can be offset against monthly savings in print and postage costs, printing hardware maintenance and administration (in the region of €6.60 per invoice according to the 2016 Billentis Report).

Diversity and complexity

One of the prevailing mantras of e-invoicing, and e-billing in the broader sense, is how payment information can be communicated, consumed and actioned swiftly by virtue of common document standards.  In much the same way as EDI has offered this broad machine-to-machine communication, the reality is often different.

In 2017, the diversity of e-billing and e-invoicing standards is only going to increase.  As businesses embrace particular standards, or align with one VAN or another, this creates a challenge for those outside of this network or standard.

Having helped businesses connect to a vast range of accounts payable systems over the years, at Netsend we expect this to be one of the biggest challenges facing businesses moving to e-billing for the first time.  It is for this reason that we maintain a range of connectors for popular e-invoicing and e-billing systems – removing the need for bespoke connectors to be created, or (in extreme cases) manual entry of invoicing data into customer systems.

Compliance drives e-billing and e-invoicing adoption

2017 will be the year EU Directive 2014/55/EU comes into force, meaning that businesses who sell to public sector will need to embrace electronic invoicing to remain competitive.  The knock-on effect from this will affect the payment processes for a large number of connected businesses.

One specific instance of public sector eProcurement policy change is the introduction of PEPPOL within the NHS procurement process.  This messaging standard concerns invoices, purchase orders and advice notes, and is mandated towards NHS Trusts and suppliers to the NHS.

Swiftly adjusting invoicing processes to become compliant with new standards is a challenge for any business, which is where outsourced e-billing solutions such as Netsend can provide immediate assistance and ensure timely compliance.

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ROI from e-invoicing or e-billing http://netsend.com/blog/roi-from-e-invoicing/ Wed, 23 Nov 2016 15:43:21 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=2210 The post ROI from e-invoicing or e-billing appeared first on Netsend.

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Return on Investment or ROI from e-invoicing or e-billing is an important consideration in any e-invoicing or e-billing deployment.  Typically, electronic invoicing or electronic billing projects place the emphasis on better customer experience, better electronic integration and other benefits.  ROI is often projected to take years, and is rarely high up the agenda for an e-billing or e-invoicing project.

Outsourcing e-invoicing or e-billing to achieve ROI

However, when an e-invoicing or e-billing solution is outsourced, at a monthly cost, this shifts the cost from a high capital expenditure (CapEx), to an ongoing operational expense (OpEx).  OpEx can be offset against monthly cost savings, and used to demonstrate a return on investment far more quickly than waiting for the savings to pay off a large CapEx.

A typical invoicing scenario involves a large volume of paper invoices being created and sent each month.  This comes with an associated cost of printing, processing and stamp costs.  Taking these costs into account, as a saving, when replaced by e-invoicing, helps demonstrate ROI from e-invoicing quickly and accurately.

Beyond the immediate OpEx savings of reduced printing, processing and stamp costs, head-count, print and folder-inserter ownership and maintenance costs can also be taken into account as OpEx savings each month.

ROI before 100% electronic conversion

Few businesses can convert 100% of their customers or partners to e-invoicing or e-billing, so there is a risk that such a deployment doesn’t actually remove the need to maintain print and post equipment and associated overheads.  Complete outsourcing solutions, such as Netsend, offer a route to outsource any ongoing print and postage requirements – typically at a significant saving per printed invoice.

Print and postage costs are typically reduced by outsourcing providers leveraging economies of scale through centralised printing and/or localised printing and postage to reduce high international postage costs.

ROI from staged e-invoicing or e-billing deployment

Where a business is particularly cautious about implementing process changes, or needs to demonstrate ROI in stages, a staged deployment of electronic processes pertaining to invoicing or billing can provide the most reassurance and demonstrate ROI in stages.

One approach is to start with the sending of statements and dunning letters electronically.  These constitute a small part of a typical accounts receivable print and postage responsibility.  However, the reduction in costs, as a relative percentage, can be used to extrapolate the potential gains across the full accounts receivable process.

Taking a staged approach not only helps project ROI, but also allows the business to adjust to an electronic way of doing things when handling non-critical documents, before rolling out to more sensitive documents such as invoices.

Beyond the initial ROI from e-billing and e-invoicing

The benefits of e-invoicing and e-billing stretch far beyond immediately attributable ROI. Aside from the improvements in customer experience, accounts receivable process automation and integration with other business systems, the bottom-line will be affected by improvements in competitivity and speed of invoicing amongst other benefits.

Find out more about the benefits of e-invoicing and e-billing here.

 

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Moving to a Shared Service Centre http://netsend.com/blog/b2b-invoicing/moving-shared-service-centre/ Wed, 21 Sep 2016 14:44:12 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=1870 Moving house is stressful.  Aside from organising transport, packing everything up, redirecting mail and other details, you’ll be trying to get back up and running as quickly as possible.  The same can be said, in more extreme terms, for a business move.  However, in the case of many business relocations, such as moving multiple functions […]

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Moving house is stressful.  Aside from organising transport, packing everything up, redirecting mail and other details, you’ll be trying to get back up and running as quickly as possible.  The same can be said, in more extreme terms, for a business move.  However, in the case of many business relocations, such as moving multiple functions into one shared service centre (SSC), planning for consolidation becomes a job in itself.

Moving to a shared service centre can dramatically reduce business costs, indeed over 60% of Fortune 500 businesses take this approach.  Consolidation and centralisation of services in one location brings economies of scale, as well as enforcing standardisation and more efficient working practices.

A centralised approach to certain business functions makes perfect sense – particularly in a digital world, where increased volumes of data stack nicely on a centralised server.  Previously disparate teams can come together under one roof, sharing information and working as one to service multiple regions or connected departments.

Why duplicate systems and teams across multiple locations, when one team, working with a centralised data-structure can work far more efficiently – eliminating duplication and wasted efforts.

Moving print to a Shared Service Centre

Whilst data and digital content can be consolidated with relative ease, paper presents a far greater challenge.  Businesses may be able to bring together disparate systems, rationalise and consolidate business functions to one location, but bringing the print and post functions of the mailroom or post room into one location can present a major challenge.

Moving print and post into one centralised location can certainly reduce the volume of print-related hardware across the whole business, as well as maintenance required.  But this channels more print volume through a smaller set of hardware, creating efficiency through pressure.

But with increased pressure, paper and printing requirements can stack up, or worse; become jumbled.

In addition to the challenge of supporting a higher flow of print, international businesses can suffer higher postage costs.  Centrally printed documents may need to be distributed to an international set of locations, resulting in higher stamp expenditure as well as longer delivery times.

Improving on the Shared Service Centre model

Where print volumes threaten to overwhelm a single location, the answer lies in outsourcing the print requirements.  Outsourcing print and postage offers the benefits of a centralised process, but can also leverage the benefits of localised print and postage across multiple locations.

Extending the scope of a mailroom, or post room, beyond print and post, into electronic document distribution (operating as a virtual mailroom), affords the opportunity to vastly increase distribution volume per unit time, at the same time as driving down costs – through the elimination of print, paper and postage costs.

Moving from print and post into the paradigm of electronic document distribution presents benefits far beyond immediate cost savings and efficiency improvements.  Unlike traditional post, electronic delivery can be verified (in real time) and resends can be triggered automatically, at no extra cost, if the initial delivery is not verified as received.  Further to this, document readership, and even electronically-validated acceptance, can also be reported, audited and used to trigger follow-up actions automatically.

How to make your move to a Shared Service Centre a success

Motivations for moving to a Shared Service Centre typically include improvements in efficiency, expenditure, visibility of processes and standardisation.  When considering the centralisation of the mailroom or post room function, it is wise to examine the benefits of outsourcing the document distribution to an expert partner, such as Netsend.

Netsend not only reduces overheads of office space and hardware, but brings benefits of electronic document distribution and localised print and postage services (where print is required) creating efficiency as well as complete real-time visibility of every step in the distribution process.

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