Using EDI to improve supply chain efficiency

Improving efficiency is one way for businesses to help battle rising costs and inflation. One efficiency improvement businesses are turning to is EDI.

Reduce costs and errors

The big efficiency with EDI is there’s no need for emailing or paper, which has some obvious benefits. As your number of orders grow, so does manual processing and hence, the need for more hands on deck. EDI does a lot of the heavy lifting for you through automating a lot of your processes. Studies have shown EDI can reduce the cost of a financial transaction by up to 90% and exchanging an invoice through EDI can even cost less than a cent. Automation from EDI can stop those awkward moments where your customer asks why your invoice numbers are wrong or if a supplier delivers the wrong products. EDI can result in a reduction in transactions errors by up to 40%.

Faster delivery times from suppliers

For any businesses, one of their biggest nightmares is not receiving goods when they need it. Any way to make the procure-to-pay cycle shorter is always a benefit. EDI sends trade documents directly between your software and your partners’. No more emails and manual inputting. EDI automation can speed up business cycles by 61%.

Better supply chain visibility

The best way keep track of all processes in the supply chain is through data. Businesses using EDI can find out whether a supplier can complete a purchase order. If you use advanced shipping notices (ASNs) with your suppliers, you can find out what a supplier is sending you and how they’re sending it. This can help your warehouse teams plan ahead for deliveries, so you can save time and resources. In fact, using ASNs can reduce receiving costs by up to 40%. Have more questions? Ask our experts by getting in touch below.

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Could mandatory eInvoicing be on the cards? Business eInvoicing Right (BER) explained

The Government’s roll-out of eInvoicing started with a mandate for Federal Government agencies to adopt eInvoicing by July 1, 2022. Several State Governments have also taken the initiative to adopt eInvoicing, with one driving force being to support the Federal Government’s initiative and to help boost adoption among businesses – after all, what business wouldn’t want their invoices paid in 5 days? This has been a good step in eInvoicing adoption. In late 2021, around 10,000 businesses were registered for eInvoicing, but with over 2.4 million businesses in Australia, there’s still a long way to go.If we rewind to November 2020, Treasury released consultation paper that looked at a possible mandate for businesses to adopt eInvoicing, suggesting three different options:
  1. A phased mandate for all businesses
  2. A mandate for only large businesses
  3. No mandate.
34 companies made a submission on this paper, with all of them acknowledging the benefits of eInvoicing but many of them suggesting a well-considered approach, given costs can be incurred to implement eInvoicing and the time that may be required to both implement eInvoicing and change processes around it. Fast forward to December 2021, The Treasury released another consultation paper to the public, explaining the widespread benefits of eInvoicing if it was adopted at large. It mentioned the Budget’s inclusion of $15.3 million to help accelerate adoption of eInvoicing among Australian businesses. They sought feedback from stakeholders in the industry as to how to support business to adopt eInvoicing and to give businesses certainty that when they adopted eInvoicing, they’d be able to use it with their trading partners. This would be done through Business eInvoicing Right, or BER. Another 39 submissions were made, many of which included the same rhetoric as the previous ones – eInvoicing has huge benefits, but the Government must support businesses and make it easier, rather than force a mandate. Now back in late 2022, what’s happened? Well, a lot politically. We’ve had a change in Government, to start with. While eInvoicing is supported by both parties, we’ve not heard anything definitive on BER or an eInvoicing mandate for businesses. We’ve seen software companies like Xero, MYOB and Reckon all include eInvoicing in their products, which takes eInvoicing a long way – they represent a large majority of small to medium businesses, which make up a big portion of all businesses. There is a lot still happening in this space. So stay tuned.Interested in learning more about eInvoicing? Ask our experts by getting in touch below.

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Accounts receivable automation using eInvoicing

Getting bogged down in manual processes can really hurt an accounts receivables team. After all, invoices that take a long time to process cost a business and make for an underperforming team. Thankfully there’s technology out there to deal with this. eInvoicing automates the exchange of invoices directly from your software to your customers’. eInvoicing works like this:
  1. You find your customer’s purchase order (PO) in your software and create an invoice from it. Your team then sends the invoice electronically from your software. The invoice is sent, almost magically, through the Peppol network directly to your customer’s software. They don’t need to scan it, type it in or anything.
  2. Your customer’s software may then be able to match the received invoice against the PO for payment authorisation.
Here are some of the benefits of using eInvoicing in your accounts receivable team.

Get paid faster

If you’re in accounts receivables, you want to send out invoices and get paid as quickly as possible. That’s where eInvoicing comes in. Studies have shown eInvoicing can reduce processing cycle time by up to 65%. Some government agencies even promise to pay their suppliers’ eInvoices in just five days.

Reduce disputes

The automation of eInvoicing also makes it very unlikely for any errors to show up on invoices when your customers get them into their software. This reduces the chance of your customers ringing you up asking about invoices with the wrong quantities or costs… yikes!

Get more visibility

Typically when you email an invoice, you only know it's approved once you receive the payment into your bank account. Or sometimes your customers might be nice enough to send you a remittance advice. The eInvoicing model supports eInvoice responses, which can tell you when an invoice is acknowledged, approved, paid, rejected and more. It can even tell you why it's been rejected.

Reduce invoice processing costs

eInvoicing digitises the whole invoicing process so it’s one less thing you need a printer for. Plus, an added bonus of eInvoicing is less need for archiving invoices, which reduces costs by up to 32%. Overall, studies have shown it costs $30.87 to process a paper invoice, $27.67 a PDF invoice, and only $9.18 to process an eInvoice.Interested in learning more about eInvoicing for your accounts receivable team? Ask our experts by getting in touch below.

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What rules the roost – EDI process or business- and software-process?

We often get companies come to us when they want to implement EDI. And one of the points of confusion is often around where EDI fits in with their business processes and software. They ask what comes first – is EDI the cart or the horse, the chicken or the egg?As a general rule, we say EDI should support your business processes, not rule them. We suggest companies map out their process, whether it be existing or what they want them to be, then insert EDI at points that it can help. For example, if you want to scan inventory in when it arrives, you’ll probably choose to use an advanced shipping notice to get the data into your software ahead of time and have your suppliers attach scannable SSCC labels to their shipments. If your software conducts two-, three- or four-way matching, you’ll need to make sure you exchange the relevant messages that are used in those checks.

The other thing is, you don’t want to make your project bigger than Ben Hur – it’s ok to phase in different stages. Start with where it’s simple to bring EDI into the process. Then if there are other pain points down the track that can be resolved with EDI, then add them into the mix. A key reason for why projects can go awry is biting off more than one can chew.

Different industries, and even different businesses or different software all operate in their own ways. And there’s good reason for that. It’s important that you get your processes in a place that suit your business needs. EDI should ideally be used to bring in automation and to reduce your team’s workload.

Here at MessageXchange, our software can help with the EDI portion, but our powerful business process management layer can help fill gaps between EDI and your processes and software. MessageXchange is flexible enough, and smart enough, to cater to processes regardless of their complexity. For example, two-way matching can be conducted within MessageXchange itself by taking the EDI order and invoice and reconciling them against each other, then sending the result on. It can do the same with three-way matching by including the shipping notice too. It can even enhance the data in your message. For example, if you find it’s difficult for you or your suppliers to include a supplier number or GLN, MessageXchange can insert that into messages for you.

Looking for more information on this topic? Get in touch with us below.

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What’s next for eInvoicing?

eInvoicing continues to grow in popularity and it’s expected to expand further. There’s a lot coming to eInvoicing in the future so we thought we’d look at some of the developments.

More message types on the Peppol network, not just eInvoices

Studies have shown that 72.5% of invoices globally are paid late . In 2016, Australian companies were an average of 26.4 days overdue on their invoice payments. With the help of eInvoicing, we’re seeing sellers being paid in less time. This improves cash flow and allows businesses to use their funds more strategically.

Could there be a business mandate for eInvoicing?

In 2020, the Commonwealth government’s Treasury sent out a request for feedback from businesses on options to accelerate the adoption of eInvoicing an. One option involves requiring all businesses to have the capability to send and receive Peppol eInvoices, with large businesses being the first. Another option would be to require only large businesses to have the ability to send and receive Peppol eInvoices. The last option is a non-regulatory option that offers more flexibility for businesses to choose their own pathway to adoption. This is by no means a mandate for eInvoicing at the moment, but some of the options, if implemented, could bring a mandate.

We’ve also seen the Government push the Business eInvoicing Right (BER) initiative to encourage the adoption of B2B eInvoicing. The BER allows companies to request their trading partners to send them eInvoices in the Peppol format. The objective of the BER initiative is to gradually introduce the obligatory use of eInvoicing among Australian companies, based on their size.

Push by government to get suppliers onboard to eInvoicing

With government agencies and departments going through mandatory implementation of eInvoicing, it’s only a matter of time before their suppliers follow suit. There’s already been talk about government agencies mandating their suppliers to implement eInvoicing. The ATO is currently focusing on a push to large businesses, particularly in the utilities and telecommunications sectors, to support eInvoicing.Have more questions? Ask our experts by getting in touch below.

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Things to keep in mind when onboarding large amounts of suppliers

Onboarding suppliers to EDI can be costly and time consuming. A typical onboarding process will involve these steps:
  1. Engaging suppliers Letting them know you’ll be onboarding them to EDI.
  2. Getting them familiar with requirements (MIGs) All requirements are normally shared via a message implementation guide (MIG)
  3. Schedule in testing Set up a time and deadline for testing of messages to start
  4. Test Send and receive EDI messages from your suppliers to ensure they are sending the correct data.
  5. Go live!
If you’re onboarding large amounts of suppliers it’s important to keep things efficient. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Testing is the most time-consuming process

Testing is time consuming because it requires a lot of back and forth checking and communication with your suppliers. This takes time and puts more pressure on you to keep things moving along. A more efficient solution is to use a message compliance testing tool (MCT), like Colladium. It allows suppliers to test their EDI files, often through an online portal, without your team needing to check them. This means you don't have to wait for your EDI team to match up availability with theirs. In fact, your resources don’t need to be involved at all. This also allows the supplier to fix up any issues with their mapping or EDI file generation so that when they go live, you're not scrambling to resolve issues.

Make templates for your communications

This makes it easy for anyone in your team to communicate with suppliers consistently and accurately. The templates should include who your suppliers should contact, the expectations and requirements to onboard and their scheduled time for testing. Just be aware it is pretty normal for these templates to evolve over time as you and your suppliers learn. These templates can also be tailored to the supplier’s knowledge and readiness for EDI.

Communicate internally

It’s key that everyone within your business is on the same page when it comes to onboarding. A step by step process should be finalised and communicated to your EDI team. This process should establish the roles for each part of the process and who to contact. Have more questions? Ask our experts by getting in touch below.

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EDI for 3PLs and logistics service providers

EDI has been prominent in the retail industry for decades and one area of the supply chain that benefits the most is third party logistics providers, or 3PLs. Let’s have a look.EDI replaces postal mail, fax and email, and eliminates manual inputting of data. It allows trading documents, like orders, shipping notices and more, to be exchanged electronically between businesses. EDI can help streamline and automate logistics processes, such as:
  • receiving and stocking goods
  • managing inventory
  • managing of warehouse movements
  • expediting shipments
  • refund processing
  • repackaging processes (co-packing).

An improved experience for your customers

We’ve seen 3PLs roll out EDI solutions, including portal solutions, for their customers. It makes the whole information flow between you, your customer and their customer easier. When your customer receives an order, they can accept it and at the same time, their EDI service can send a copy of it onto you so you know what to despatch, when and where. You can pick and pack the goods as usual, then when you create the shipping notice, you can send this via EDI to the recipient. Again, a copy can be sent to your customer for visibility. All of this ensures you’re not relying on PDFs and emails, and data is being exchanged in the quickest way possible.

Benefits of EDI

Cost savings

With supply chain costs going up, now is the time for logistics companies to find ways to cut costs. During busy periods instead of receiving an email or phone call every time a customer needs stock shipped, you can get the request via EDI, straight into your software for processing. You won't have to worry about missing an email, or having staff on-hand to enter the PDF into your software and you won't need to 'scan' PDFs into your software and deal with potential scanning errors.

Speed and accuracy

As your orders increase, your time to process them will only increase, unless you automate. EDI allows documents your customers need to be processed and sent faster. By reducing manual inputting, EDI also reduces the risk of inaccuracies in documents you send to your customers. Here are some stats that back the benefits:
  • can speed up your business cycles by 61%. Get documents directly into your software from your customers’ within minutes.
  • It delivers at least a 30—40% reduction in errors.

Reduced manual processing

With staff shortages a big issue around the world right now, logistics companies need to find ways to make process more efficient. With EDI, not only does your speed improve, but the pressure on your staff is reduced. EDI makes it easier for you to process more shipments with fewer people which allows you to take on more customers and more of their orders.

Compliance with retailers

If your customers supply to retailers, they’ll require documents via EDI. Send advanced shipping notices (ASNs) to the stock recipient, and even have a copy go to your customer for their visibility. Have more questions? Ask our experts by getting in touch below.

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5 reasons why companies are choosing eInvoicing

We continue to see eInvoicing gathering momentum. Here in Australia, the number of companies registering for eInvoicing is growing hugely. Here are five of the reasons companies are choosing eInvoicing.

They’re getting paid faster

Studies have shown that 72.5% of invoices globally are paid late . In 2016, Australian companies were an average of 26.4 days overdue on their invoice payments. With the help of eInvoicing, we’re seeing sellers being paid in less time. This improves cash flow and allows businesses to use their funds more strategically.

They’re saving time by reducing manual processes

With an outdated system, processing invoices involves lots of steps. With eInvoicing there’s no need to enter invoice data, saving you time. MessageXchange can even automate more processes such as matching invoices to PO numbers and more. All these things let your staff focus on more important tasks.

They’re saving costs and reducing errors

The ATO estimates paper and PDF invoices can cost between $27 and $30 to process. eInvoicing reduces the costs to less than $10. In Australia alone, 1.2 billion invoices are sent each year, so you can already see the savings that are to be made. You can save on:

  • paper costs
  • printing costs
  • additional scanning equipment costs.

Manually inputting invoices exposes businesses to human errors. The automation from eInvoicing can reduce errors by up to 37%. Errors can be costly for any business, and especially the costs involved to rectify them.

They’re using a more secure way to exchange invoices

Invoices are often a targeted way for scammers to commit fraud. A recent study by XERO found 18% of Australian SMEs have fallen victim to invoice fraud and this costs a business an average of $15,500. This number has only grown with the increase of scams during the pandemic. To avoid this, eInvoicing messages go through the secure Peppol network, which has processes in place to reduce the risk of fake or comprised invoices.

They’re on a digital transformation journey

Digital transformation is the move to digital technology to improve existing processes. eInvoicing does exactly that and is a great starting point. Can you imagine if you were still issuing invoices by fax? We’ve well and truly moved on from that, and eInvoicing is the new way.

Getting started with eInvoicing

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Check your software

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Our team connects you to the Peppol eInvoicing network

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Go live!

Want to get started with eInvoicing? Get in touch with our eInvoicing team below to learn more.

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EDI mapping explained

In most industries, there’s an EDI standard – whether it be EDIFACT, GS1 XML, ANSI X12 or something else. While standards are fantastic because they make it easier for companies to trade with each other (because they don’t need to setup different messaging standards with each trading partner), ERP software generally doesn’t export the standards out of the box, if at all. Typically, software exports an XML or CSV document. So this is where mapping comes in.

What is mapping?

A mapping translates a file from one format to another. For example, if your software exports an XML file but your customer requires an EDIFACT message, the mapping process transforms the XML to EDIFACT. The way MessageXchange work allows the mapping process to also incorporate business rules. For example, it can be used to enrich data, perform calculations and more. This is particularly helpful for those companies whose software doesn’t export all the information that a customer requires. A mapping is setup once and then it just runs. There’s no intervention needed when a new message comes in, the whole process of mapping a file is automated.

When would I use it?

As I mentioned above, mapping is typically used when software isn’t able to export the file format required by a company’s trading partners. It’s the way to mediate between your software and that of your trading partners. It can even cater for your trading partners who have different requirements – logic can be setup to use certain mappings for certain customers. Mapping cover all message types too – so if you receive an order, the purchase order can be mapped from XML to EDIFACT, but the POR, ASN and INV can be mapped from EDIFACT to XML, for example.

What are the benefits of mapping?

It allows a company to easily comply with their trading partners’ requirements

There’s no changing your software or investing in additional staff or other resources to manage this.

It automates processes

It’s ‘set and forget’. It just runs.

It’s scalable

There’s no extra work to do if your message volumes increase. Once the mapping is setup, any new messages that are exchanged automatically go through this process. If you're needing help with your mapping get in touch with our EDI experts by filling in the form below.

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The future used to be paperless. Now it’s PDF-less.

Not too many moons ago, there was a big push towards a paperless office – everything needed to be digital. No more faxes and no more mail – email was the new hero. This was a big progression at the time. It was more sustainable, there was less chance of things going awry and it was just more efficient. But times have changed.Nowadays, technology has advanced a lot more. And yes, while emailing PDFs is still much more efficient than snail mail or faxes, there are still downfalls. Many companies ‘scan’ or use optical character recognition (OCR) to truly make their invoices digital. However, many companies who come to us report only a 70% accuracy rate with OCR. Imagine then having to find the errors and on top of that, fix them. No thank you! And companies who don’t use this technology are still typing invoices in letter-by-letter, number-by-number. Yikes! We’re lucky to be in such a time where we now have better options. You might have heard of electronic data interchange, or EDI. It gets data from a supplier’s software to their customer’s software. Instead of the customer having to scan (or OCR) a PDF invoice or manually type it in, a machine-readable file is sent to the customer’s software. There’s no manual intervention required and it just appears, almost like magic. This also happens for other procurement documents like purchase orders and shipping notices. The Australian and New Zealand Governments have also identified that going truly digital brings massive benefits. $28 billion in benefits to the Australian economy over the next 10 years, to be specific. Because of this, the Australian and New Zealand Governments have worked collaboratively to bring an electronic invoicing (eInvoicing) standard to businesses: Peppol. This works in a similar way to EDI – it sends invoices from the supplier’s software straight to the buyer’s software. No typing, no scanning, no nothing. And major accounting software providers are onboard too. Both MYOB and Xero allow their customers to send and receive eInvoices. How good is that. So next time you find yourself typing another invoice into your software or fixing up an invoice mistake, have a look into eInvoicing or EDI. After all, the future is no longer paperless, it’s PDF-less!

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The art of writing MIGs

When you onboard suppliers it’s important for them to understand what the requirements are for the messages they need. A Message Implementation Guideline (MIG) refines a generic EDI standard such as UN/EDIFACT and details how it will be used for your company. In simple terms, it tells your suppliers what messages they need to send, what information the messages contain and how they’re formatted.Here are important things you need to know…

Choosing an EDI standard

There are different EDI message standards used around the world. Once you choose a standard it will be used as the base for your MIG. Here are a few of the common ones and where they’re most used:
UN/EDIFACT Standard coined by the United Nations and the most commonly used worldwide, and heavily used in the Australian retail supply chain industry.
ANSI X.12 Commonly used in North America
EANCOM Commonly used in the European retail industry
ODETTE Commonly used in the European automotive industry
EbXML Global standard developed by United Nations body for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business Information Standards (UN/CEFACT) and Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS ).
TRADACOMS Commonly used in the UK retail industry
HIPAAhow Commonly used in the North American Healthcare industry
SWIFT Commonly used by financial institutions worldwide.
 

Choose the message types you want to use with your suppliers

This comes down to what your objectives are as a business. Here are some of the common messages and what they do:
  • Purchase order Sent from buyer to supplier to order goods or services
  • Purchase order change Sent from buyer to supplier if the original purchase order has changed
  • Purchase order acknowledgement Sent from the supplier to the buyer to acknowledge receipt of the order
  • Purchase order response Sent from the supplier to the buyer to let them know how much of the order can be fulfilled, and any discrepancies from the original order
  • Advance shipping notice (or despatch advice) Sent from the supplier to the buyer to let them know when and how the goods will be shipped
  • Invoice Sent from the buyer to the supplier for payment of the goods or services
  • Recipient created tax invoice (RCTI) Sent from the supplier to the buyer for payment of the goods or services
  • Remittance advice Sent from the buyer to the supplier to confirm payment
  • Price/sales catalogue Sent from the supplier to the buyer with up-to-date product and pricing information
  • Product activity data Sent from buyer to the supplier with the number of units sold and units on hand
  • Transport instruction Sent from a buyer to a transport supplier (and related parties) to communicate transport arrangements
  • Transport response Sent from a transport provider to confirm instructions
  • Functional acknowledgement An automated response sent from a receiver of an EDI message to confirm receipt of the message.

Find out what data your ERP system requires to process your message types

This is important because it’ll determine what fields and values you need from your partners. This includes things like:
  • character limits
  • whether only integers are allowed
  • if it needs to be number
  • how many decimal places
  • whether the field is dependent on another field (conditional)
  • whether a field is used for particular use cases only
  • how calculations are made.
From here you can provide a list of values that can be used, If not, all values in your chosen EDI standard. We have a range of MIGs from various companies you can check out here.

Putting your MIGs together

This is where you take everything from the previous steps and document it. Writing MIGs can involve a bit of work and so you can get an external party to help. This where an EDI provider, like MessageXchange, comes in. We can assist or lead the MIG writing process, developing it from scratch or upgrading your MIG. Find out more here. Have more questions? Ask our experts by getting in touch below.

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How eInvoicing delivers a better procure-to-pay (P2P) experience for your suppliers

eInvoicing is strongly emerging here in Australia and New Zealand as one of the key digital transformation activities in 2022. Its dominance is being led by the Government because of its massive benefits to the economy (think $10 billion to the Australian and New Zealand economies). But that’s not its only benefit – it can deliver a much better procure-to-pay (P2P) experience for suppliers too.

What is eInvoicing?

In short, when your suppliers create an invoice in their invoicing software, it’ll almost ‘magically’ appear in your accounting software. To find out the nitty gritty, have a look at our whitepaper, an introduction to eInvoicing.

So how does it benefit your suppliers?

It’s sent directly from the supplier’s software into the customer’s software

Once your supplier enters it into their software, they can be rest assured that it’ll be delivered straight into their customer’s software. And if, for whatever reason it can’t be, the supplier will be sent a notification, so they’re always in the loop. This means their invoice will be received in record time, and the payment process can begin. Winner!

It doesn’t get lost among emails or people forgetting to forward it on

Gone are the days of emailing a PDF invoice, waiting for the person the supplier deals with to approve it, pass it onto the accounts payable team for processing and then joining the payments queue. eInvoices go straight into the customer’s software, so there’s not getting lost in emails – it joins the queue, which is often automated by the customer, to speed up the process.

Suppliers can get notified of the status of an invoice

One of the real benefits for suppliers is getting notifications of the invoice status. The eInvoicing network (Peppol here in Australia and New Zealand) has a ‘response’ message that goes back to the eInvoice sender to let them know if the eInvoice has been received (or failed or rejected for whatever reason) and can also update the supplier on things like whether it’s been approved for payment, whether it’s been paid, and more. eInvoicing has heaps of benefits for you too, not just your suppliers. You can have peace of mind invoices won’t go missing, plus you don’t have to worry about entering the data incorrectly into your software.

Ready to get yourself or your suppliers onboard to eInvoicing? Here’s how…

First, get yourself eInvoicing-enabled

You’ll need an eInvoicing service provider. This is called an ‘Access Point’. The Access Point gets the invoices into your software (and also out of your software if you’re using it for accounts receivable invoicing too). It’s your gateway to the eInvoicing network. Get in touch with us to find out what the best option is, or have a look here.

Then get your suppliers onboard

Depending on our suppliers, it could be worth breaking them down into groups to get them onboard. This is handy so that you’re not overwhelmed with the task, but also allows you to tailor your communications, depending on your suppliers. Take a look at our whitepaper, a guide to successfully onboarding trading partners to eInvoicing.

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