Electronic Document Distribution | Netsend http://netsend.com e-invoicing and e-billing solutions for business Mon, 22 Jan 2018 09:27:01 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 http://netsend.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/cropped-Netsend_Stacked_CMYK_square-1-32x32.png Electronic Document Distribution | Netsend http://netsend.com 32 32 eIDAS and Changes to Electronic Signature Legislation http://netsend.com/blog/eidas-changes-electronic-signature-legislation/ Thu, 11 Jan 2018 11:36:45 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=3494 The post eIDAS and Changes to Electronic Signature Legislation appeared first on Netsend.

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Electronic signatures are widely used by businesses today.  It’s remarkable to think that they were only granted the same legal weight as their ‘wet ink’ counterparts from 1st July 2016 (in Europe).  Legislation around electronic signatures and associated ‘trust services’ continues to evolve, with the eIDAS (electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services) Regulation – Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council – providing an update to legislation across the EU.

The new eIDAS regulation has consolidated and replaced a confusing patchwork of laws pertaining to electronic signatures, making them consistent across every EU country.  With electronic signatures used to sign international documents, the eIDAS regulation ensures all parties produce and receive signatures that are legally binding.

eIDAS updates the original Electronic Signatures Directive (Directive 1999/93/EC), setting out a legal framework to enable mutual recognition of electronic identification systems between Member States, and establishes trust services that can be used to support, or in place of, electronic signatures.

For a more detailed explanation of how eIDAS changes existing legislation, take a look at our Trust Services for Electronic Documents white paper.  This blog post explains some of the key points to consider.

“The new eIDAS regulation replaces previous electronic signature laws and is now consistent across every EU country”

 

eIDAS Changes to Electronic Signatures

Previously, electronic signatures could be used by both individuals and by corporate organisations.  eIDAS updates this to make a distinction between natural and legal persons, requiring that an electronic signature relates to an individual – not an organisation – henceforth.  This change switches the onus on to individual responsibility, ensuring greater awareness of the legal responsibility of those applying signatures as part of automated processes.

 

eIDAS Changes to Advanced Electronic Signatures

eIDAS redefines Advanced Electronic Signatures to allow for mobile technology to form part of the identification and authorisation process – through connection to a Certificate Authority for the issuance of a digital certificate.

 

eIDAS Changes to Qualified Electronic Signatures

Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES) are an extension of the concept of Advanced Electronic Signatures.  QES are only possible to create from a qualified electronic signature creation device (SSCD) – which must store the signature creation data.  Such a device is qualified by issuance of a Qualified Certificate, from a qualified trust service provider.  In turn, a qualified trust service provider is granted such status by the Supervisory Body.

The electronic signature creation device provides a level of security above and beyond an Advanced Electronic Signature, which is appropriate in certain scenarios.

 

What are Trust Services?

Trust services are introduced, as a concept, via eIDAS to provide additional routes to verify integrity of document content and sender.  eIDAS sets out a legislative framework to put these services into practice in the EU.

Electronic Seals

As part of these changes, eIDAS introduces the concept of electronic seals.  Electronic seals are similar to electronic signatures, but only available to legal persons (rather than natural persons) – such as corporate entities.  These provide a route for corporate entity to apply a stamp of authentication to a document, without the fine-grained individual responsibility implicit in an electronic signature.

As the name suggests, an electronic seal works a little like its traditional, physical, counterpart.  The seal guarantees that the contents of the document has not been tampered with, as well as guaranteeing the authenticity of the sender.

Time Stamps

Time stamps are used to verify that the data contained in the document existed, and remains unchanged from, the data at the time and date of the stamp.  This is particularly useful to anchor documents, such as contracts or bills, to a time and date.

Delivery Service

The Electronic registered delivery service prevents risk of loss, theft, leakage or alteration of documents being sent from one party to another.  The service also provides evidence of receipt and proof of delivery.

Website Authentication

Website authentication, by way of electronic certificate added to the site, validates the authenticity of the site and link to entity or person(s) owning the site.

 

The Business Benefits of eIDAS

In the competitive and fast-paced world of business, capitalising on changing legislation provides a competitive edge.  Working with an expert partner, such as Netsend, enables your business to quickly offer the benefits of trust services and the full range of electronic signature types to your customers.

Whether incorporating the latest changes from eIDAS within internal document distribution processes, or as a way to improve security and assurance with partners and customers, these recent changes make document transactions more secure than ever before.

Move beyond the benefits of simple electronic signatures and turn trust services to your business advantage.

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How to beat the Christmas Post (with electronic delivery) http://netsend.com/blog/beat-christmas-post-electronic-delivery/ Wed, 13 Dec 2017 16:15:03 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=2257 It’s the time of year to be jolly… but actually, when you’re trying to get important documents over to clients, you might be feeling a little less jolly.  The infamous Christmas Post has a lot to answer for.  As millions of cards and presents enter the system for just a few weeks, this throws delivery […]

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It’s the time of year to be jolly… but actually, when you’re trying to get important documents over to clients, you might be feeling a little less jolly.  The infamous Christmas Post has a lot to answer for.  As millions of cards and presents enter the system for just a few weeks, this throws delivery timescales into disarray.

Have you ever tried to get a document to a client urgently on the lead up to Christmas?  What normally takes a couple of days can take weeks.  That level of uncertainty and delay is a problem when waiting for signed documents, and can lead to significant cashflow impact when invoices and payments are directly affected.

With the volume of post increasing massively on the lead up to Christmas (up to 10 million parcels per day at its peak), it’s simply too much for the infrastructure to handle effectively.  This resulted in 4.8 million reported delivery problems over the Xmas period in 2015.  Last year saw £148 million worth of lost or damaged post this Christmas in the UK. And according to Citizens Advice, online shoppers will typically spend two-and-a-half hours sorting out a delivery problem this Christmas – because an item is late, turns up broken or doesn’t arrive at all.

In a survey carried out in December 2016, more than one in five had a parcel go missing*

A third of consumers who receive a damaged parcel don’t take action. For those that did try to complain, more than 40 per cent ran into problems – such as difficulty contacting the retailer or delivery company on the phone.

So, how can you avoid this as a business?

Electronic Document Distribution – for reliability and speed of delivery

As every Christmas shopper knows, the online world is without the queues and traffic of the high-street.  This is also one of the attractions of electronic document distribution, enabling businesses to send documents swiftly and securely irrespective of season.

Furthermore, electronic documents can be produced and sent automatically.  The paradigm of accounts receivable automation has sprung up in response to the demand for more streamlined and cost effective ways to generate and distribute invoices and other AR documents.

In the context of the accounts receivable department, electronic invoicing is growing at a rate of 20% year on year globally.  It’s not hard to see why, when you consider the value of getting invoices out quickly, as this brings the cash into the business sooner; Christmas post, or not.

Know when your documents arrive

Beyond the simple ability to avoid postal traffic, electronic document distribution systems, such as Netsend, afford the sender insight into how the document distribution is progressing at every step of the journey.  There is enormous value in determining who has actually received time-sensitive documents, and even whether they have opened them and, where appropriate, agreed to the content.

With an electronic document distribution system, it’s possible to see at a glance who has not yet responded to documents.  Reports can be generated for direct follow-up, or statements and/or dunning letters can be generated automatically to nudge slow-responders into action.

You’re not just saving time, but saving money too

Electronic documents are not just the fastest and most secure way to ensure business documents are delivered, they also present a significant cost saving.  Reducing the reliance on print and postage for the distribution of business documents brings paper, stamp and printing costs down considerably.

Many businesses go as far as outsourcing the remaining print and postal requirements to be handled through a single document distribution solution, such as Netsend.  This simplifies the process of distribution, as documents are directed to the distribution system and then either sent electronically (in most instances), or automatically printed and posted for recipients who are yet to convert to accepting electronic format documents.

Save throughout the year and be ready for next Christmas

Businesses making the most effective deployments of electronic document distribution are committed to onboarding as many customers to the new process as possible.  When you consider the average saving of €6.60 per invoice sent electronically, rather than by post, it’s clear that efforts to convert recipients are highly valuable.

At Netsend, we achieve an average conversion of over 80% within 6 months.  The industry standard sits a little lower at 60% after 1 year, but there are many techniques, as well as product nuances that can encourage an audience to convert to electronic documents more quickly.

Get in touch today and find out how quickly you can benefit from electronic document distribution, saving all year round and side-stepping postal strikes and seasonal fluctuations like the Christmas post.

 

*Shock figures reveal how many parcels are lost or damaged

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Metrics to analyse Accounts Receivable performance http://netsend.com/blog/metrics-accounts-receivable-performance/ Tue, 01 Aug 2017 08:08:10 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=3060 The post Metrics to analyse Accounts Receivable performance appeared first on Netsend.

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Measurement is the first step towards improving performance.  And measurement is only valuable in this regard if you’re measuring the right things.  Through the deployment of electronic invoicing, we help clients all over the world improve their accounts receivable performance, so we’ve established a clear list of the metrics that matter to determine performance improvement.

Browse the list below and evaluate your accounts receivable performance.  At Netsend, we can show you how significant improvements can be made in all of these important areas.  For instance, how The Guardian reduced their DSO by 2 days – read their case study here.

Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)

Probably one of the most important, and frequently measured, metrics for judging AR performance.  DSO is the length of time it takes to collect the money owed to the business.  Different industries, and different countries, have different average lengths of DSO.  One of the best resources for determining the average your business should be looking to meet, or improve upon, can be found in the quarterly Atradius Reports.

On average, in the UK, DSO is 31 days.  This is significantly better than the average of 44 days DSO across Europe.  With payment terms typically being in the range of 30 days, this equates to an average delay of just 1 day in the UK, but 14 days across Europe.

It’s important to realise that DSO can fluctuate significantly, so is best averaged over a year at least for general performance, or tracked more closely for regular late-payers and a means to chase sooner and shorten their typical delay time.

DSO is best contrasted against best possible DSO, with the goal of driving DSO down to as close to the best possible DSO as you can.  Best possible DSO is calculated as:

Best possible DSO = (current receivables x number of days in invoicing period) / credit sales for period

How to improve DSO?  One of the easiest ways to drive down DSO is to integrate with buyers’ payment systems and encourage automated payment – perhaps incentivising for payment within an acceptable timeframe.  Additionally, tracking invoice receipt and even intention to pay can provide an early indication of which customers’ payments will need to be chased down, and who is likely to pay on time.  At Netsend, our portal provides an easy route to track payments and our connectors provide deep integration with a vast range of payment systems and Value Added Networks (VANs).

Average Days Delinquent (ADD)

The measure of ADD provides insight into how effective AR processes are in collecting receivables on time.  ADD is calculated as:

ADD = DSO – best possible DSO

As mentioned in the section about DSO, above, it is important to use best possible DSO and actual DSO as comparative metrics – ADD provides exactly this measure.  Plotting ADD and DSO visually, over time, can provide an intuitive handle on performance fluctuations.

Collective Effectiveness Index (CEI)

CEI provides insight into how effective AR process are at collecting all outstanding money in a specific period (often one year).  CEI provides a quantitative handle on collections processes, rather than the more qualitative indication from DSO or ADD.

CEI is calculated as a percentage by:

CEI = (beginning receivables + monthly credit sales – ending total receivables) / (beginning receivables + monthly credit sales – ending current receivables) x 100

100% CEI implies a perfect collection process, so AR teams should strive for as close to this as possible.  Ongoing performance measurement should pick up any significant drops in CEI, as these indicate a problem with the collection processes.

CEI and DSO should move in different directions as performance enhancements are made to AR processes, such as e-invoicing or automation.  CEI provides an overall measure of quality of collection processes, rather than DSO or ADD which are measurements of time and reflect broader AR processes.

Accounts Receivable Turnover ratio (ART)

The ART ratio indicates cash flow and liquidity through a measurement of how frequently accounts receivable are turned into cash.  ART is measured over a period of time, typically a year.  ART is calculated as:

ART = net credit sales / average accounts receivable

As any CFO, CEO or senior financial role will be aware, cash flow is extremely important for the health of a business.  Free cash flow determines how much money is left to reward shareholders, or to reinvest for business growth.  Measuring ART keeps tabs on how effectively AR processes are supporting this.

Number of revised invoices

Whilst this isn’t a standard, formal, metric, the number of revised invoices generated over a given period is valuable to track.  This determines the quality of the outgoing invoices and can help identify needs to improve initial invoice quality through automation or better access to information.

And invoice revision that is required adds additional workload to the AR team, and time to the invoicing process.  AR automation is a proven approach to reducing inaccuracies in invoices and flows well into the wider remit of electronic invoicing.

Improving Accounts Receivable performance after measurement

Whichever metrics (hopefully all) you are measuring, you need to think what you intend to do with the learnings.  Determining that your DSO is well beyond your industry average, but without a plan to address this, measurement is meaningless.

Solutions such as electronic invoicing and AR automation present a popular route to addressing AR performance challenges.  The beauty of these solutions is that they support your existing AR team and processes, enabling AR teams to focus on more valuable work that can’t easily be automated or digitised.  The biggest threat to business success is, often, wasted time – at Netsend, our AR solutions improve productivity and enable you to focus on your business.

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Automate tasks so you have more time to do the things you enjoy http://netsend.com/blog/automate-tasks-get-back-time/ Tue, 25 Jul 2017 13:56:04 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=3045 The post Automate tasks so you have more time to do the things you enjoy appeared first on Netsend.

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Staying late to catch up on work because you’ve spent hours doing tedious, administrative and repetitive tasks?

Cut down on time you spend doing such tasks by delegating it to Netsend. We realise it’s not uncommon to dedicate hours each day to chores like printing, sorting, folding and preparing invoices for post. We’ve seen cases where accounts receivable teams find themselves constantly updating customer details and/or sending historical statements at a customer’s request. What if there was a solution that did that for you so you could leave work on time today?

“Netsend saves us time printing and scanning documents”
– MTV

Our portal provides you with the ability to automate document distribution so gone are the days of manually inputting document data, printing, and sorting them in-house. Your customers are encouraged to log in to the portal to view an archive of their statements or invoices, and if they move office or want to change their delivery option? Well they can do that by simply logging in whenever suits them, instead of making a call to you to print that old invoice they require for their end of month account reconciliations.

The ability to search electronically, rather than leafing through volumes of paper, can save hours of productivity, across a business.

“Through improved invoicing efficiency, accuracy and visibility, Netsend saves us hours every day”
– The Guardian

In our experience, outsourcing your electronic document distribution will save your business on average 7 hours a day.

According to a recent article by the BBC, “psychologists say stress over lack of time causes lower well-being and contributes to anxiety and insomnia.

Yet, they say even the very wealthy are often reluctant to pay people to do the jobs they dislike.” It goes on to explain that this is a global dilemma, “from Germany to the US, people report getting stressed over the daily demands of their time”.

Professor Dunn who has worked with colleagues at Harvard Business School and Maastricht University supports the theory of outsourcing one’s time consuming tasks, “money can in fact buy time. And it buys time effectively. Think about it, is there something you hate doing that fills you with dread and could you pay somebody else to do that for you?”

Speak with us today to see how we can help free up your time so you can do more fulfilling tasks during the day, and as important, leave on time.

 

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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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E-invoicing for Financial Shared Service Centres http://netsend.com/blog/e-invoicing-for-financial-shared-service-centres/ Tue, 23 May 2017 12:02:52 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=2751 The post E-invoicing for Financial Shared Service Centres appeared first on Netsend.

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Divesting authority and control away from Head Office and out to operations in the field has been a popular business model for many years.

In the 1700’s the East India Company allowed all of its factories around the world to operate locally and control their own affairs. This decentralized approach became the dominant structure for organizing and running any business that operated on a multinational basis. The business model worked and tea became a global commodity.

Of course, much of the popularity of decentralisation was driven by necessity. Before the availability of the Internet or even telephones there was little choice but to make local, on the spot decisions if you wanted to capitalize and react to events as they happened.

However, the popularity of decentralization endured long after technology had started to provide methods of collaboration and instant communication. In the 1980’s the UK Government began to devise measures to decentralize the economy by privatizing public sector enterprise. Seemingly in step with the political climate the majority of business consultants began to espouse the decentralized mantra and businesses strived to implement it as a key element in their business strategy.

By the early ‘90s organisations were waking-up to the idea that decentralisation (at least in some contexts) missed many of the opportunities for economies of scale and standardised working practices. The growth and rapid development of information technology began to turn the tables. The internet and other electronic information systems made the distribution of information ubiquitous and cheap. It became clear that centralising financial processing, particularly across borders, enabled economies of scale, improved control and provided greater visibility of these important processes. And the Financial Shared Service Centre (FSSC) was born.

Today over 60% of fortune 500 businesses have shared service centres, and this continues to grow. Consolidation of processes requires standardisation, but this standardised approach can prove costly to reintegrate with the wider business where internal or customer-facing touch points exist. One such touch point is invoicing.

Today over 60% of fortune 500 businesses have shared service centres

E-invoicing in an FSSC

Both e-invoicing and the shared service centre offer efficiency gains as well as centralised, aligned and more visible processes. In particular, the function of e-invoicing can help take a singular, standardised invoicing feed from financial systems and create the rich variety of invoice formats and template-driven layouts, with localised nuances, required across the breadth of recipients.

Equally the reverse can be true; FSSCs can operate separate and sometime disparate legacy systems, incorporated from various territories, divisions and acquisitions. In such circumstances an e-invoicing solution can become an aggregator, unifying the process into a single, brand consistent and uniform output.

E-invoicing to save costs whilst improving efficiency and flexibility

In some cases reductions in staff costs of up to 35% have been achieved. Often the maximizing of existing staffing resource isn’t about head count reduction but about reducing the need for costly and time consuming recruitment drives.

The reduction of print and paper invoicing supports this increase in efficiency further, enabling fewer credit control and collections staff to achieve far more in the same time.

Where there is still a requirement for printed and posted invoices and other financial documents, e-invoicing and document management solutions exist that take advantage of local postal fulfilment. This helps reintroduce the low, localised postage costs not often associated with centralised financial processing.

E-invoicing as a creator of value in the FSSC

Today, in addition to being an important part of the drive for financial and process efficiency, there is also a demand on Financial Shared Service Centres to increase the quality and professionalism of support processes for the business and its customers.

E-invoicing should form an essential component in the makeup of a FSSC as it can help achieve both goals. Without e-invoicing, an FSSC may be creating efficiencies in many areas and yet struggling to realise the impact of this due to the bottleneck in manual invoicing processes. Electronic invoicing also provides a platform to enable more immediate identification of bottlenecks, through greater analytical insight and accessibility of performance data.

The East India Company never survived long enough to see the pendulum swing towards centralisation. Running into financial difficulties, and providing the catalyst for revolution on at least two continents, the Company was eventually dissolved in 1874. Given their prominence and success in working the decentralized business model it’s perhaps ironic that today India hosts the largest number of shared service centres in the world. From the last quarter of 2014 India’s economy became the world’s fastest growing major economy, replacing the Peoples’ Republic of China.

I’m not sure if those two facts are related, but it’s certainly something to think about as I go and put the kettle on.

 

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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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How can Outsourcing your Accounts Receivable Improve Cash Flow and Efficiency? http://netsend.com/blog/outsourcing-accounts-receivable-improves-cash-flow-and-efficiency-guest-post/ Fri, 05 May 2017 09:55:34 +0000 http://netsend.com/?p=2635 By Gary Brooks, Business Partner at Hitachi Europe  It somehow feels counter-intuitive that moving tasks and processes out of reach geographically, entrusting them to people who are not your direct employees, can enhance efficiency and generate cash flow benefits. Surely, having all activities under your gaze and control, being executed by people with your delegated objectives, […]

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By Gary Brooks, Business Partner at Hitachi Europe 

It somehow feels counter-intuitive that moving tasks and processes out of reach geographically, entrusting them to people who are not your direct employees, can enhance efficiency and generate cash flow benefits. Surely, having all activities under your gaze and control, being executed by people with your delegated objectives, is the most efficient model? Not necessarily. Let’s look at some opportunities.

Accounts receivable is often the biggest asset on the balance sheet

You could be a complex organisation, with multiple locations, processes and ERPs. All companies and subsidiaries bear the same (or similar) name, but the credit processes vary from company to company. Indeed, some companies entrust the credit and collections work to accountants or administration staff, as part of their job; or they may not have the budget or expertise to collect cash in a structured way. It’s an after-thought rather than a mainstream activity, despite the fact that accounts receivable is often the biggest asset on the balance sheet and, usually, very liquid.

AR Best Practice

Outsourcing provides the company with the opportunity to standardise and centralise small- to medium-size pockets of activity into a team offering scalability and cost efficiency. Cost savings should accrue from centralisation and standardisation, given the critical mass created. Best practice can be achieved, as several (or many more) different ways of doing the same thing are consolidated en route towards best practice, with standard policies. This upscaling also provides the opportunity to rationalise the number of locations and ERPs that are deployed, with potentially significant savings in cost.

Moreover, this new scale brings the opportunity to deploy the best available specialist credit and collections softwares, to leverage the maximum efficiency from the new processes. Indeed, the specialist tools can provide the foundation and blueprint for best practice. I would go so far as to say that standardisation and automation are the precursors, or enablers, of outsourcing.

Business Opportunities

Outsourcing provides the opportunity to tap in to specialist labour pools, potentially in low-cost environments, and to remove the worry around recruitment, holiday cover and keeping the team managed and motivated on a daily basis. A strong contract, with effective SLAs and strong governance and monitoring, provide an effective framework for ensuring you get the best out of the outsourced team. The outsourced staff, assuming they have the appropriate credit and collections experience and skills, and allied with the standard best practice and tools, can optimise the cash flow of the client company.

The outsourcing of the higher volume / lower added-value activities (think cash application, collections, customer master) also provides the opportunity to upskill retained staff to focus on credit management, ensuring the right customers are on-boarded at the appropriate level of risk and exposure. A higher quality customer portfolio enhances collectability of cash and reduces the risk of bad debts.

Outsourcing provides the opportunity to upskill retained staff to focus on credit management

In short, outsourcing, allied to standardisation and automation can optimise cash flow, can reduce process costs and provide enhanced career opportunities to retained staff. The right outsourcing partner, supported by a strong contract, puts the client in the driving seat, monitoring and directing an extended team that can be flexed as the business grows and contracts.

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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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