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  • 16Dec

    European Comission By 2016 E-procurement Will Become The Norm For Public Bodies

    In the summer of this year the European Commission made the bold step that in intended to make e-invoicing the norm for all public purchases by 2016. This was music to the ears of those championing austerity as Commissioners suggested it would save 64.5 Billion Euro’s a year for the continents businesses.

    E-invoicing is the electronic transfer of invoicing information such as billing and payment between supplier and buyer. The European Commission suggests “it is an essential part of an efficient financial supply chain and it links the internal processes of enterprises to the payment systems.” E-invoicing has been made possible by secure technologies in e-signatures and in more advanced ways of transferring payments online.

    However this revolution is being held up by business’s commitment to paper and to a manual invoice system which is still prevalent in Europe. Current statistics give light to the scale of the challenge facing the EU e-reformers. Estimates suggest only 5-10% of all procurement processes conducted in Europe are being worked out electronically. It seems clear that the introduction of new procedures and technologies may be a challenge – especially to those already trying to save money.

    UK company Version One have added their voice to the debate. Version One are providers of the e-invoicing systems used by the Commission and they are forward looking in their vision – suggesting this is a first step to what they call e-procurement.

    Managing Director of Version One Greg Ford suggested “Public bodies can spend an exorbitant amount of time and money manually processing and storing thousands of paper invoices every month. By adopting electronic invoicing for the automated processing, storage and management of purchase invoices, this can deliver deep spending cuts while enabling finance staff to replace time-consuming administration with value-adding activities.”

    Ford adds that if Europe has a vision for e-procurement then e-invoicing is a vital first step. He challenges European companies current “manual paper-based” system and is confident significant savings would result from any change.

    Critics have argued that although the drive to e-invoicing is to be welcomed, it is a long way from this vision of e-procurement. It could be argued that these are two very separate developments rather than suggesting such a link. However, Greg Ford is adamant that this is part of a wider reform of how procurement is done on the continent and if it is a money saver it is likely European Commissioners will also share his enthusiasm.

    This was an E-Procurement article from Freddy. Freddy is a specialist in E-Invoicing services and solutions