Note: This is a guest post by Christian Lanng, CEO of Tradeshift. We’re honored to have him on our blog:
In July, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that all Treasury Bureaus must implement electronic invoicing by the end of the 2012 fiscal year. The initiative is designed to improve government efficiency and cut taxpayer costs.
While Washington leaders aren’t exactly a gold standard for efficiency –- and some might say the last couple weeks have proved that more than ever -– its e-invoicing initiative is all about streamlining.
And small businesses can learn from it. Here’s why they should.
Invoices are headaches
First, every business owner, large or small, knows the headaches of the invoicing process. From snail-mail paper invoices that get lost, miscalculated totals and exchange rates, the accountant who (ahem) forgot to invoice altogether -– almost every business knows how these issues can slow payment.
Less apparent -– but certainly important -– is the resource drain paper invoices can have on the environment. There’s no doubt about it: not only do these old-timey invoices take longer to create, but they are also less environmentally friendly (see infographic over there –>).
Third, the time spent creating, filing, sending (and of course, waiting on) invoices is time that could be spent more productively.
By taking invoicing online, businesses can become more efficient: faster payment and fewer wasted hours.
How to transition to e-invoicing
The transition to e-invoicing is easy. Using a service like Tradeshift, which we created to address these exact issues –- and has been adopted by tens of thousands of companies as well as the Danish government –- small businesses simply sign up, create a profile, add their contacts to grow their network and start exchanging invoices and documents.
By connecting businesses electronically, e-invoicing services save time and ensure faster payment at both ends of the supply chain.
Moreover, they create a place for real-time business information exchange: users can broadcast messages to all suppliers and customers in their network, exchange private messages, and see real-time updates on their invoices and payments.
Let’s not follow the federal government’s lead on everything when it comes to operations – but on this one, they’re on the money.
About Christian Lanng, CEO of Tradeshift
Christian Lanng is the CEO and Co-Founder of Tradeshift Network, which helps businesses exchange invoices for free. He was formerly the Head of the Danish Division at National IT and Telecom Agency, and the head of section at the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. Follow him on Twitter at @christianlanng