Rule 3: Forget about formats

Director, Center of Excellence, Global Sales

I hope you’re enjoying the 7 golden rules for electronic invoicing so far and finding the posts useful to dispel some of the common myths surrounding e-invoicing. Having previously looked at the technical differences between operators’ offerings and how organizations can use their current platform to generate e-invoices successfully, in this post, I’ll aim to dispel the common myth that multiple file formats is a hurdle too high to overcome for e-invoicing to be viable. 


Rule 3: Forget about formats

Considering it is something that is relatively simple, file formats are one of the main reasons that companies fail to realize the benefits of e-invoicing. Basware’s recent 2011 Cost of Control Fuzzy Finance report highlighted that investing in e-invoicing technology to increase productivity is considered the top finance process activity (52%) for organizations over the forthcoming 12 months. Yet, myths about e-invoicing continue to discourage businesses from taking the plunge.


Many businesses argue that it’ll be too complicated to manage all the different layouts and data structures they’ll be faced with from their suppliers on a daily basis. They think that until the market settles down into a single format, e-invoicing simply isn’t worth pursuing seriously.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. Firstly, businesses need to accept that it’s highly unlikely that there will ever be a time when only a universal invoice format is used.


Today, almost all systems can output invoices as a standard XML file. And if they cannot, we can always use print stream data to generate e-invoices. Since e-invoicing was first introduced there’s been a lot of debate around the format to use for offering invoice data in an electronic format. However, no single format currently exists or is needed; you don’t need to agree on a precise standard across all the e-invoices you receive.


A credible e-invoicing provider should be able to provide automated format conversions across all the formats that are used today, to deliver complete any-to-any integration within a network. You’ll be pleased to hear that this means you can continue to process invoices at line-level data granularity, enabling you to get the depth of information you need to support efficient processing and insightful analysis in an easier to manage process.


So if your worries over file formats are holding your business back from adopting e-invoicing, it’s time to think again. Don’t worry about file formats, as you’ll find with many of the benefits of e-invoicing, it will be one less thing to worry about.

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Category: E-Invoicing