Link to article: https://supplychain-village.com/temoignages/temoignage-facture-electronique-les-entreprises-doivent-se-saisir-de-cette-opportunite-pour-standardiser-leurs-donnees-2/

By Julia Sharko

Director of Operations, Interlog Services

The future obligation to receive and issue electronic invoices is not just a matter of dematerialization. It is above all a question of data structuring and validation. And this is what many companies are lacking. It’s a challenge that goes beyond invoicing, and impacts operational and financial performance.


Electronic invoicing: behind the tree, the forest of unstructured data

Already mandatory for public procurement contracts, electronic invoicing will gradually be extended to business-to-business exchanges from 2027. This will go hand-in-hand with the implementation of e-reporting, the transmission of transaction data to the tax authorities.

As the deadline approaches, many studies are surveying companies to assess their ability to comply. Some – like the one recently conducted by Pleo – highlight an important point: companies don’t necessarily understand the e-billing law very well. In fact, there is often confusion between dematerialized invoicing and electronic invoicing. As Pleo explains: “It’s not just a matter of converting an invoice to PDF and sending it as an e-mail attachment. The electronic invoice must necessarily include a minimum database in structured form”.

This observation is indicative of a much broader challenge that penalizes companies in many operational and financial respects: data standardization and harmonization.


A global impact for companies


The subject is almost like a sea serpent. Data standardization is an issue that transcends all borders, from those of companies to those of countries… but which seems eternally out of reach. And indeed, its impact is felt at every level: at the individual level of each company, but also at the collective level of relationships and transactions between organizations.

Because data is often incomplete, imprecise or even inaccessible – not to mention errors, differences from one language to another, codifications specific to each company, etc. – the consequences are many and recurring.


In the logistics sector, for example, confusion and errors in identifying shipping and delivery points are commonplace. Yet these pitfalls could be eliminated relatively easily if addresses were replaced by unique codes. And this principle of codification, of a universally used reference system, should be applied to all data: customer name, goods description, charges, VAT, and so on.


Certain initiatives do exist, of course. One of the most predominant is EDI, but its role in data standardization is more of a reality in the USA than in Europe. More recent projects include CargoX, a blockchain-based electronic Bill of Lading specialist and winner of the latest ELA Awards. In particular, its platform is used to electronically manage the exchange of documents required for customs procedures in Egypt via the Nafeza portal. This pre-clearance system secures exports to Egypt and will become mandatory in October 2021. Since its launch, over 117,000 companies have adopted the platform, reducing cargo clearance times from 29 days to less than 6 days.


It should also be noted that some data harmonization initiatives exist in specific fields, such as the GOLDA group in the automotive aftermarket sector.

However, these initiatives are highly specialized. Generally speaking, it remains very complicated to have all data in a standardized and structured way.


An Achilles heel that needs to be turned into an opportunity

Will the switch to electronic invoicing be a trigger? We have every right to think so. Studies confirm it. According to the latest edition of Generix Group’s e-billing Barometer, published in July 2023, more than 9 out of 10 companies believe that e-billing reform represents an opportunity to transform. Half of the companies surveyed also see benefits for the quality of their data and processes. It should be noted, however, that this reform remains complex, and the process will ideally need to be simplified.


Standardized and structured in dashboards, company data can be strategically exploited to provide a better view of relationships with customers and suppliers, between different departments, and a better understanding of their financial impact on aspects such as delivery and payment times, unpaid bills, VAT, working capital requirements and cash position.


This reform is an excellent opportunity for companies to accelerate their digital transformation by standardizing and structuring their data. They stand to gain both individually and collectively. Even if it only represents a first step towards data optimization and harmonization, we can only encourage this movement, which is a real key to performance.



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