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The six lessons of electronic invoices

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Files pile up, numbers intertwine! In running a business, bills can quickly give gray hair.

At the initiative of the French government in 2017, the transition to an electronic billing system was initiated, in France as in the whole of the European Union, by the public sector. From July 1, 2024, VSEs and SMEs will have to receive and issue electronic invoices in this format before 2026. The ambition of this project is multiple: to simplify the life of companies, reduce payment times, combat VAT fraud, reduce carbon footprint, and increased security. As such, dematerialization, which will become necessary for all financial transactions, is both a physical and an environmental opportunity.

For many companies, regardless of their size, resources, or workforce, the physicalization of invoices is a great adaptation. In order to be optimized, this process must be anticipated. The best approach, in a sense, is to take the time to move forward quickly.

6 lessons from the dematerialization of invoices

Teaching 1 : Who would have guessed thirty years ago that it would be possible to watch a movie while waiting for a bus? The same reasoning can easily be applied to accessibility of accounting documents. At an appointment with a supplier, checking previously invoiced price, delivery cost, and annual invoiced volume is now possible thanks to digital tools and cloud storage solutions.

Teaching 2 : The issue of electronic billing is also the issue of ecological transition. A brief history: 2017 is not only the year the dematerialization of the bill began, but it’s also the second-hottest year in history. According to a study published in 2020, 2.5 billion bills are issued annually in France. The vast majority of these documents are still published in paper form. However, producing one kilogram of paper is equivalent, according to ADEME, to 0.919 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

Teaching 3 Increased traceability of financial flows makes it possible to improve fraud detection and real-time knowledge of business activity at the national level. Although difficult to assess, VAT fraud figures prominently among the state’s budget deficit (estimated at around 20 to 25 billion euros annually).

Teaching 4 : Enhanced Security: Less risk of error. The transition to electronic invoicing is an opportunity as it is an opportunity to adapt the language of accounting. Thus, all data is the subject of jargon which, once computerized, is automatically kept when possible, making it easier to fill in, process and even analyze.

Teaching 5 : accurate and virtuous accounting which is also evident in the relationship with third parties. Who hasn’t heard of questionable justifications like “the bill got to the wrong department”, “the check left by the mail this morning”? Causing dissatisfaction and mistrust (even mistrust) in human relationships and defaulting can lead to serious and unfortunate legal consequences. With electronic invoices, information is stored and accessible to all stakeholders, and all financial flows are subject to the same tracking obligation.

Teaching 6 Better billing management means better managing your time and resources. It also guarantees an objective and thoughtful vision to improve its financial and commercial strategy. Accounting is an essential function of a company, as it is at the center of all activities. Thus process improvement is a virtue for the entire company. Computerized search is faster, bill keeping – mandatory in France for a legal term of 10 years – is undoubtedly less bulky.

Forum Produced by: Jerome Morizot, Director of Marketing for Sage Activities at Prodware

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