Sending an invoice can take place in many formats: on paper, as a PDF attachment to an email, or as an e-invoice. What makes an e-invoice special is that the invoice data arrives in a structured format. What does this mean? Whereas invoice fields on paper- or PDF invoices need to be read and interpreted first, structured data can automatically be understood by modern Accounts Payable (AP) solutions. One great example for this is the purchase order (PO) number. If the AP solution immediately understands what the invoice’s PO number is, it can automatically match it against an invoice and process the invoice and payment accordingly. This way there is no human interaction required to process the invoice – the AP process can be automated.
To the same degree that paper invoices can have different layouts, e-invoices can have different formats - and new formats are developed every year. A good e-invoice sending solution therefore covers many different e-invoice formats and is able to deliver those to the recipient in the required way. An e-invoice sending solution is typically connected to Accounts Receivable (AR) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, it’s easy to understand it as a pipeline. When creating an e-invoice in your existing AR or ERP system, it still has to be transported, and in many cases the invoice data has to converted in a way that it meets the technical requirements of the recipient.