Interview with Comarch on the challenges and requirements of global e-invoicing

Thursday 7 December 2017 08:31 CET | Editor: Melisande Mual | Interview

Bartlomiej Wójtowicz of Comarch shares his thoughts on the differences, requirements, and challenges of global e-invoicing projects

Of the two types of regime for electronic invoicing compliance reporting, how does the clearance model (applied by Brazil, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey) differ from the traditional post-audit approach (used by the EU and the Commonwealth)?

The clearance model has already been implemented in several countries, mostly those at risk of VAT fraud. In these countries, invoices cannot be sent directly to the recipient but must be controlled and authorized electronically by the relevant ministry before or during the exchange process. Things are different in the post-audit model, where issuers of e-invoices send their documents directly to recipients. The audit (which may take place during the retention period) verifies whether the company’s accounts accurately reflect all actual sales/purchase transactions, and whether VAT is properly calculated and reported.

The advantage of the clearance model is that the authorities may execute the control process promptly. However, the clearance model requires more resources for integration and differs in each country, making e-invoicing on the global scale more expensive and time-consuming.

What are the main challenges of launching a mass e-invoicing project, and how can they be addressed?

Most companies face several challenges when launching an e-invoicing project on a mass scale:

  • On-boarding 100% of partners: companies planning a mass project, regardless of AP or AR automation, need to be aware that organisations are at different levels of technological maturity. Thus, the selected provider must enable multi-format (paper, PDF, EDI and XML) and multi-channel (e-mail, EDI and portal) support. In addition, self-provisioning tools help to speed up the connection process.

  • Global legal compliance: it is really difficult to follow all the legal issues regarding e-invoicing. Even within the EU, there are various local requirements and intricacies, such as whether or not we need to use an electronic signature, EDI or another method of authentication. Due to all the challenging regulations, companies should cooperate with an experienced provider who can guarantee both legal compliance in many countries and interoperability with other providers.

  • Internal business processes: depending on the company’s structure, many departments can be engaged in e-invoicing projects. The finance and accounting units are mainly involved, but sales, purchasing, supply chain and IT personnel should also be engaged. The departments often use various IT systems, which means data can be scattered within the company. Thus, someone has to be in charge of supervising the project, setting priorities and engaging all the departments.

More info about the tools specifically tailored to meet the supplier’s needs can be found in the White Paper: E-INVOICING – let us help your company to boost results

European companies doing cross-border business still face the complexity of operational and legal requirements of different networks and markets, which can hinder electronic exchange with their partners. How can e-invoicing service providers help remove this complexity from the end users’ perspective?

One crucial step for companies executing cross-border e-invoicing is to allocate resources according to their core business operations. Also, they need to choose an e-invoicing service provider which is able to assure legal compliance and support for various markets and models. Reviewing the experts’ reports describing the available solutions is highly recommended. Comarch B2B Network has recently been included in Forrester’s report, entitled “Vendor Landscape: B2B Business Networks 2017 to 2018”, and Gartner included our solution for document management in “Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms, 2017”.

What are the main features a company needs to consider before implementing an e-invoicing solution, and how is Comarch making sure that its offer measures up to the requirements?

Based on our experience, companies implementing an e-invoicing solution should consider the following:

  • Volume of documents

  • Type of exchange – B2B, B2G or B2C

  • Inbound or outbound flows (or both)

  • Partners’ readiness

  • Complexity – sector-specific or specific processes (such as self-billing)

  • Geographic scope

  • Archiving – one central archive

The likelihood of the project`s success is governed by ensuring that the project delivers the proper scope from the start. Comarch guarantees scalability, so clients can rest assured of appropriate architecture and support when their project is expanding. In addition, our offer is fully comprehensive, covering the end-to-end e-invoicing process.

Looking ahead, blockchain could become an instrument to improve electronic invoicing services and reduce costs for all market participants. Is this what we should look for in terms of e-invoicing in the future?

Blockchain is one of the hot topics nowadays. The technology ensures transparent data sharing for all stakeholders, which results in better traceability and a faster decision-making process. Blockchain can definitely become an instrument to improve processes in the whole supply chain in terms of security, operations, technology, and legal aspects. Nevertheless it has to be evaluated in the medium term rather than the immediate future.

 About Bartlomiej Wójtowicz

He has over 10 years of experience in the field of B2B communication in the supply chain. Initially responsible for the EDI market development in Central Europe, he is currently responsible for the development of Comarch BU E-INVOICING portfolio – a platform which allows the user to automate the supply chain and invoicing processes. A comprehensive approach to both internal and external communication with all partners (suppliers, customers, logistic operators, service providers), including the exchange of the product, commercial, logistic or financial data.

 About Comarch BU E-INVOICING
Founded in 1993, Comarch has more than 20 years of experience in designing, implementing and integrating IT solutions for enterprises in a variety of industries, including retail, consumer goods, DIY, logistics, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and oil and gas. Solutions for data exchange and document management are dedicated to master data management, e-procurement, e-invoicing and AP/AR processes. Comarch is a true end to end procure to pay solution provider. Moreover, the offer comprises a B2B network that guarantees reliable data transmission with more than 100 000 entities worldwide in a short time. Comarch is cooperating with companies such as Metro Systems, Carrefour, Leroy Merlin, BP, BIC, Unilever, Rossmann, Valeant, Valeo, and Technicolor. With thousands of completed projects, 15 data center locations and more than 80 offices in 30-plus countries, Comarch has the support and infrastructure necessary for high-volume rollouts.

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Keywords: interview, executive, Comarch, Bartlomiej Wójtowicz, e-invoicing, B2B, blockchain
Countries: World