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The Supplier is Key to the Electronic Invoicing Movement

My mum made me tidy the house regularly. (And I mean tidy.) One of my early initiations was my briefing on how to wash up. I was instructed - very carefully and precisely - on which pot, plate or pan to begin with, which implement to use, how to dry, which towel to use and which cupboard to store them in. All to be done in batches of ten. I was 7.


A few years ago she took over the backroom office of a landscaping company. Like most owners the proprietor knew his product inside and out. However, he was haemorrhaging income from unpaid invoices. In came mum. Over the next few years she was able claw back £60000 in unpaid invoices. A fortune for a small-to-medium sized enterprise.


Alongside not having the time and not wanting to annoy his customers his product is THE priority. This thinking is rife. No one cares about invoices, especially creative, hard-working and dedicated leaders. The 24/7 juggling of their organisation has little room for understanding the invoicing process or its repercussions. Except, of course, when he was told £60000 was at stake. The company is now fully digitalised and loses a fraction of the income he once did.


I use this story often to help shift suppliers to electronic invoicing. The moral of this story isn’t that my mum saved the day or that she digitalised the system.. The moral is the company she works for is a supplier and not a buyer.


The electronic invoicing movement primarily targets buyers. I believe this is misplaced logic and ignores supplier adoption as the key to any electronic invoice project. The buyer should be adapting their payment principles to fit the supplier’s demands.


The first stage of the electronic invoicing movement has had its early adopters and we must be wary of a push back and gain a deeper understanding of supplier adoption.


It’s been argued that some suppliers will fall in line with electronic invoicing because they don’t want to “bite the hand that feeds them”. Again this is misplaced logic. By adopting e-Invoicing the supplier is saving the buyer money and they should be treated just like any other customer.


We need to understand where the power lies and submit ourselves to economic principles of supply and demand. My hypothesis is the suppliers are the ones actually creating demand for electronic invoicing not the other way around. The supplier after all is the one being paid and wants to be paid quickly.


A buyer does not have the level of incentive that a supplier does for joining the electronic invoicing movement. Our efforts should focus on them and we should place our talent and resources at their doorstep.


Paul is CEO of The Invoice Guys

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Paul Dawson

Paul Dawson



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08 Jan 2019



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Electronic invoicing

A discussion and guidance on the path to full scale adoption of electronic invoicing by corporates, goverments, SME's and consumers, creating savings up to € 60 billion in 2020. With a focus on: trends, business models, processes, technology, and legal issues.

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