A play about traditional e-invoicing
(Set as a typical business telephone conversation)
BUYER: Hello supplier.
SUPPLIER: Hello buyer.
BUYER: (sounding enthusiastic) We are going to move over to e-invoicing!
SUPPLIER: (sounding equally enthusiastic) Fantastic! That will mean quicker and easier processing for you, no more manual data entry errors, no more of my paper invoices getting lost, and potentially I’ll get my payment quicker and without chasing.
BUYER: Exactly, we are equally excited about it.
(smiles and mutual back patting)
BUYER: So instead of sending paper invoices every month, you need to send us an EDI invoice.
BUYER: Or an XML.
SUPPLIER: Err….I….I am not a huge multinational organisation. That would be a huge change to my current technological infrastructure and something I couldn’t really afford to do.
(with shame in his eyes supplier looks down at his feet)
BUYER: Oh (pause). I see (pause). Well, that’s a shame. But never mind. I have an excellent alternative. Instead, what you can do is to use an ‘Invoice Portal’.
(supplier looks visibly cheered)
SUPPLIER: Wow! Yes! An invoice portal, that sounds like a good solution.
SUPPLIER: Umm. What exactly is an ‘invoice portal’?
BUYER: After you have created your invoice, you log on to the site and enter all the details from your invoice on to the portal. This then becomes the master copy.
(period of silence)
SUPPLIER: So, I raise my invoice and then enter all the same details again in your invoice portal?
BUYER: Yes. It will be much better that way for us. Our processes will be super-quick.
SUPPLIER: But mine will take twice as long.
SUPPLIER: And you say, the copy on the portal becomes the master copy?
BUYER: Yes. We will even send an electronically signed copy back to you for your records.
SUPPLIER: Very kind. But what if I make a mistake when entering the invoice data in to the portal?
BUYER: We only recognise what is entered on the portal.
SUPPLIER: So the inaccuracies associated with manual data entry on your side from my paper invoice, are now just transferred over to me. We aren’t actually removing this problem by moving to e-invoicing are we? It is just you are moving the manual data entry from your team to me.
SUPPLIER: And why does the invoice portal copy become the ‘master copy’? I have already created the invoice in my own finance package. Which is actually the legal document?
(supplier starting to become incensed)
SUPPLIER: And now I am going to have to store my own copy plus your copy of the same invoice every month, doubling my storage requirements.
BUYER: Ah, well, no, I have a solution for you there. We can store it for you.
Supplier: Ok, that’s something I suppose.
BUYER: For a fee.
SUPPLIER: For a fee?! For a fee?! So you are going to now charge me as well??
(supplier becoming slightly deranged)
BUYER: Let me get you a glass of water.
(supplier sips at water, the trembling subsides)
SUPPLIER: What about your other suppliers? What do they think about this?
(buyer suddenly looks forlorn)
BUYER: I have mentioned it to them all but no one has come on-board yet.
(sound of buyer sobbing)
(lights dim, curtains close)
END OF SCENE
If not an invoice portal, then what's the alternative?