Stephen Carter
Head of UK E-invoicing Centre of Excellence

Being a supplier to the National Health Service can be painful – things take time, from contracts to payment. But once in, however, the NHS can be a customer for life. The good news is that some of the pain is set to go away in the near future as the UK finally plays catch up with the rest of Northern Europe. 

To change the game, new legislation is on the way which forces the NHS to accept true e-invoicing in support of the 30 day prompt payment code. However, it’s great to see that the NHS is acting now rather than waiting.  Within the new e-procurement strategy is e-invoicing and e-ordering between suppliers and the NHS buyers – and they’ve actually just completed a demonstration of the technology proving that all this is possible (learn about how this went in my next blog).

So, what are the benefits? It will free up time and money, with the NHS guaranteeing payment to suppliers within 30 days (and here’s the catch) – of an approved invoice. The solution appears simple - switch to PDF via email and that will save the supplier one or two days – right? Unfortunately not. For more NHS buyers, processing a normal PDF takes longer and hits the same barriers to approval as paper. What they want is a true e-invoice - one that doesn’t need post-processing, but one that can go straight for approval with 100% accuracy against the e-order. This is real e-invoicing.

But this is not new. As the large private sector customers become smarter, they are already asking for the supplier to invoice electronically rather than by paper or PDF.  The result is stretching a supplier's Credit Control team and impacting DSO. What makes the NHS different, is the use of open standards and the Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line (PEPPOL) network. This is an open network accessible via Access Points - the Basware Network being one. No more rekeying and no more problems connecting to closed networks (see my last blog). One simple open network connection will unlock every NHS trust to the supplier. More importantly the supplier will get high quality order data rather than the current mix of paper, fax, email and telephone from the Trusts. 

Now with the NHS moving towards e-invoicing, it’s the time for the smart supplier to switch to e-invoicing via an open network such as Basware. By moving to true e-invoicing the benefits to the supplier are clear:

•    Removing the barriers to getting paid on time
•    Strengthening their key customer relationships
•    Reaching 100% of customers with one bill delivery solution

With e-invoicing via an open network, a supplier can target NHS or private sector customers and deliver the right invoice, in the right format, in near real time. And with more and more Public Sector bodies across Europe also e-invoice enabled, the sales invoice becomes a competitive sales tool. The finance team of a smart supplier not only becomes a key part of the sales process but is one that’s paid on time, with low credit control costs and very satisfied customers.

Importantly, with IT resources stretched, switching to e-Invoicing doesn’t require a complex IT project. With Basware it can be as easy as printing a PDF today. We do the work for the supplier and with our basic e-invoicing service offering:

•    Web Portal with Credit Control interaction with smaller customers 
•    Direct e-invoice links into key customers’ Account Payables
•    Connect to every e-Invoice enable Public Sector body in Europe
•    Traditional PDF email delivery but with visibility of receipt and bounce back 

The result for the smart supplier is faster business driven by customer demands and removal of all the barriers to invoice approval (and payment). With the NHS and of Public Sector companies the supplier is guaranteed payment in 30 days, so you can focus on managing your day’s sales outstanding. With the Basware Network, e-invoicing couldn’t be easier or smarter for the smart supplier.