UK public sector increasingly reliant on inefficient invoicing processes

04 October 2017

UK public sector increasingly reliant on inefficient invoicing processes
  • 90 per cent of public sector bodies using PDF email invoicing, up 43 per cent since 2015
  • But vast majority are cancelling out the benefits with 74 per cent printing out hard copies—amplifying security concerns
  • Basware to expand its e-Invoicing service for a number of public sector customers as part of its Accelerate initiative to encourage adoption of safer invoicing

LONDON, UK, 4 October 2017— Basware, the global leader in networked purchase-to-pay (P2P) solutions, e-Invoicing and innovative financing services, today announces a new initiative – entitled Accelerate – to increase efficiency and security in public sector finance.

Basware will be expanding its e-Invoicing service to a number of existing public sector customers. The Accelerate initiative is designed as a partnership: in exchange for software and support, each participating organisation will agree to share their implementation journey with their peers.

Further details will be announced at Basware’s InVoice event being held at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales on 23 November 2017.

The announcement comes as the latest report on invoicing practices in the public sector is published. In its third year, E-Invoicing in Local Government – a joint study from Basware and iGov – surveys organisations across local government, housing and emergency services. It finds that the public sector is still reliant on inefficient resource-heavy processes to manage invoices, despite increasing awareness of the opportunities presented by e-Invoicing.

Key findings

Increased reliance on non-secure processes

Whilst many are turning to PDF invoicing, over 60 per cent of local authorities, emergency services and housing associations are opting for the cost-heavy option of printing rather than unlocking the true benefits offered by PDF invoicing. This is then followed by scanning, meaning organisations may be losing all the accurate content added by the supplier. The result is higher costs and more effort paying the invoice on time. Moreover, 92 per cent reported a continued reliance on paper invoicing.

A widespread problem; an effective solution

The study highlights increasing pressures on existing invoicing practices in departments across the country. Time spent by staff issuing, transmitting and receiving invoices was identified as the biggest problem facing organisations this year, with 51 per cent describing it as a ‘main challenge’.

Most respondents see e-Invoicing as a valuable solution to this challenge—over half (53 per cent) believe that e-Invoicing provides a cost-effective means of increasing efficiency. A further 52 per cent agree that it improves the time within which invoices are processed.

E-invoicing remains an ambition among local authorities but barriers to adoption are high

There is a clear appreciation of the need to modernise invoice processes: 43 per cent cite the implementation of new invoicing technology to be a pressing charge over the next 12 months.

But with under a third (31 per cent) reporting the use of these technologies, there are significant barriers obstructing widespread adoption. Lack of resources remains the most prevalent of these and is worsening: cited by 38 per cent of respondents in 2017, rising from 32 per cent on the previous year.

Over a third (38 per cent) report the burden of choosing the ‘right’ technology as a challenge, while 35 per cent highlight gaining supplier adoption as a major concern.

A growing market

Regardless of these concerns, e-Procurement is a market with potential. Nearly a quarter of respondents (24 per cent) plan to invest in e-Procurement in 2017-18, and a further 21 per cent intend to increase their capacity for receiving e-invoices.

Louis Fernandes, Vice President and UK Country Manager, Basware comments: “Our research reveals confusion in the public sector around e-Invoicing. Despite organisations recognising the need to reduce the amount of time spent processing invoices, internal barriers are holding back adoption of the latest tools.

“Perhaps most concerning is the continued reliance on printing and scanning PDF invoices, which opens the public sector up to security risks. With the NHS required to go paperless by 2020, the rest of the public sector need to adopt technologies that keep them secure whilst freeing up resources and staff time.

“Through the Accelerate initiative, which we will be launching in November, we are making a commitment to move forward the pace of adoption, ensuring the benefits of e-Invoicing become a reality for the UK public sector.”

Download the full survey from here.

Notes to editors

This survey was conducted by iGov Survey in collaboration with Basware. The project ran from Wednesday 14 June 2017 to Wednesday 2 August 2017. 146 individuals from 136 unique organisations participated in the survey.

About Basware

Basware is the global leader in providing networked purchase-to-pay solutions, e-Invoicing and innovative financing services. Basware’s commerce and financing network connects businesses in over 100 countries and territories around the globe. As the largest open business network in the world, Basware provides scale and reach for organisations of all sizes, enabling them to grow their business and unlock value across their operations by simplifying and streamlining financial processes. Small and large companies around the world achieve significant cost savings, more flexible payment terms, greater efficiencies and closer relationships with their suppliers. Find out more at

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