Voice of the Industry

Governments speed up supply chain digitisation

Wednesday 23 March 2022 08:31 CET | Editor: Claudia Pincovski | Voice of the industry

Bartłomiej Wójtowicz, the Consulting Director at Comarch, explains how the desire to have control over VAT transactions has encouraged tax administration all over the world to set up central national e-invoicing platforms or to have online supervision over the processes

The obligation to interface with such platforms had a positive impact, prompting enterprises to re-design their processes by making them more automated and traceable a few months ahead of the deadline. This concerns not only e-invoices, but also other transactions within the supply chain.

The current e-invoicing landscape

The implementation of central government platforms has developed at a different pace in each country, with some leaders in each region. The pioneer countries were Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico in LATAM, where the processes have been established for over a decade and have undergone continuous improvement. Others followed, by Bolivia, Columbia, Paraguay, Panama, or Salvador as the most recent ones.

The pioneer decision in Italy started the track of e-invoicing within Europe, where the implementation of SdI (Sistema Di Interscambio) has been a significant milestone. Poland and France have already set up their timelines and interest in e-invoicing has already risen in these countries. Companies have been following regulations and employees have been consulting about the details in order to be well-prepared for the implementation. Moreover, changes in the reporting obligations implemented in Hungary, the UK, Portugal, Romania, and Norway have made this topic even more complex.

Leaders in other regions and countries, such as Egypt and Kenya, followed by Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Uganda in MEA and Africa, as well as South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Australia in the Asia Pacific region have set the directions for the neighbouring countries.

Technological diversity as a challenge

The implementation details differ and concern interface types, message content, document formats, encryption level or response statuses. In addition, the changes implemented shortly before deadlines, unclear technical specifications, and access to test environments with documentation often available only in local languages have kept many IT departments, especially in multinational companies, awake at nights. Moreover, the legal changes in a country may even re-schedule the implementation of crucial ERP systems, putting key markets afterwards.

Currently, most companies have understood the severity of the problem and planned to follow the timeline in advance. As the majority of enterprises, they harmonise IT landscapes with ERP upgrades and centralisation, the same approach is noticeable for e-invoicing. Global companies are trying to find providers able to ensure legal compliance and technical support for all their entities and processes.

According to best practice applied in many countries, careful project organisation is a success factor, with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and timeline confirmed by top management. This enables KPI monitoring with the possibility to control resources and coherence with other IT projects being implemented.

E-invoice quality based on other transactions

Smart decision-makers use the e-invoicing deadlines to improve processes within their company. Analysing accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) processes as a common project was rare in the past, but the central interface with government platforms has changed this. The mandatory use of e-invoices, even by small vendors or clients, has made the idea of 100% e-invoicing a reality and enables a comprehensive approach to all processes. Scanning, OCR, or paper documents are losing ground. Internal workflows have also been optimised due to modern technology, with well-defined dictionaries and fewer exceptions being handled.

Within the e-invoicing process, companies extend collaboration with their partners to cover more accounting processes such as collections, disputes, claims, and payments. This approach, with the use of modern AI-based technology and integration with payment gateways, has brought the best results. The KPIs defined and the detailed monitoring and reporting capabilities will enable prompt reaction and faster decision-making processes.

How data integration brings further improvement

Managers with foresight, who knows that e-invoice documents contain data concerning transactions from other operations in the supply chain, integrate the project with other data. Besides the high-quality master data of partners and products (crucial to raising quality), order data and delivery and receipt transactions enable end to end control – which makes the processes truly ‘zero-touch’.

About Bartłomiej Wójtowicz

Bartłomiej Wójtowicz is Consulting Director at Comarch. He has over 15 years of experience in the field of B2B communication in the supply chain. Initially responsible for the market development in CEE. Later, responsible for the product development in e-invoicing area and currently responsible for consulting team.

About Comarch

For the past 25 years, Comarch has been a global provider of advanced, software-defined technologies that help companies from all industries optimize their key business processes. The company’s vast portfolio includes systems and services for efficient data and document exchange such as Master Data Management, Electronic Data Interchange, Online Distribution, and e-Invoicing platform. Each of the products is fully compliant with the latest local regulations and allows enterprises to improve their business performance, gain a competitive advantage, and reduce operational costs. Comarch’s clients include top professionals from various sectors: retail (eg, METRO-NOM, Tesco, Carrefour) FMCG (eg BIC, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, Unilever), pharma (eg GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi) and many more.

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Keywords: supply chain finance, digitalisation, Comarch, transactions , e-invoicing, regulation, ERP, compliance, accounts payable, accounts receivable
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Countries: Europe
This article is part of category

Banking & Fintech