Document-Genetics-GlobeParetoPost - Crafting the Perfect Invoice

24th June 2011

This whitepaper considers the true cost to deliver a B2B invoice and proposes a flexible and innovative method to deliver invoices instantly, and with complete visibility. 

Since 2007 the worldwide economy has been navigating a financial storm, with many weaker companies sinking under the pressure of falling order books and late payments.

A typical manufacturing company will have cut back on hiring new employees, stopped buying capital equipment, slashed research and development and frozen new product launches. Directly impacted by the recession is the accounts receivable (AR) process. The customers of the company that owe it money may pay slowly, late, or not at all, further reducing revenues. The affected company will pay its own bills more slowly, late, or in smaller increments - this in turn may reduce the company's credit rating and its ability to obtain financing.

In short, it's a vicious circle which many organisations have fallen victim to. So, any strategy to facilitate the payment of invoices and reduce the days sales outstanding (DSO) is critical to any business, large or small.

This whitepaper considers the true cost to deliver a business to business (B2B) invoice and proposes a flexible and innovative method (based around the Pareto principle or 80/20 law) to deliver invoices instantly, cost effectively and with complete visibility

The Death of Post

In the last five years we've seen an explosion in the growth of electronic business document transmission common formats and methods of transmission include:

  • EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)
  • XML, CSV or other structured file formats sent via email, FTP or secure web portals
  • PDF or Tiff images sent via email

Of the formats and transmission methods listed above, PDF sent via email is proving popular. This is because it provides a direct replacement for post but at a negligible cost.  You also negate the need to agree a true electronic format to exchange data, as a PDF is simply an electronic image of the original paper document.

Comparing the Cost

If you're comparing the cost of Post vs. PDF (sent via email), you realise the reason for its popularity:

Cost to create the document - Post vs. PDF

Post - circa 20p (this includes printing cost, paper, envelope, energy and labour)

PDF - circa 1p (there are no material and labour costs only software and energy)

Cost to send document - Post vs. PDF

Post - 20p (downstream access provider, e.g. UK Mail) to 39p (1st class franked mail)

PDF - less than 1p (there is a theoretical cost for the broadband access and the bandwidth but it's practically zero when split over all the applications that use it)

Speed of delivery - Post vs. PDF

Post - 1 to 5 days depending on service levels

PDF - less than 1 hour (can be sent instantly but there may be delays due to email servers at customer end)

ROI - Post vs. PDF

If you can replace 3,500 posted packets a month, with a PDF transmission, you may be saving £2,000 a month now that's significant!

What's the catch?

It sounds too good to be true, if the cost savings are so significant, why isn't everyone sending PDF invoices and statements (and other business documents).

There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. Some companies can't easily automate the creation and sending of PDF invoices from their business system
  2. Some customers/partners won't accept a PDF invoice – they want a true electronic exchange of data or they simply aren't setup to receive an email (although these are pretty rare now, but they do exist)
  3. Certain organisations feel they have to send post (e.g. Councils, Charities, NHS Hospitals, Legal companies, etc)
  4. Some companies haven't thought about it or are too lazy to change
  5. Reliability - some companies feel post is more reliable and worry emails can, in some instances, disappear into the ether

Let’s look at how the objections above can be overcome:

  1. Output Management Software (e.g. Formate Output Management Software) will take the generic output from ERP systems and intelligently create and deliver PDF documents
  2. Tell your customer that it's part of your environmental policy to deliver electronic documents to reduce your carbon footprint - after all, nobody likes to be seen as a green ogre
  3. This is potentially the most difficult one to address government organisations and certain professions are slow to change and bound by red tape. Although organisations need to address modern document delivery methods this is probably the most difficult sector to tackle.
  4. This is all about education, showing companies (and staff) what can be done
  5. Reliability - email transmission of PDF invoices is more reliable in percentage terms than post, but technological issues can suddenly disrupt the process (changes of email address, email server crashes, spam filter/firewall updates blocking valid email traffic, loss of internet connection, etc)

We're now going to look further at this last point (reliability) and look at ways to address this problem and add other benefits to the sender.

Reliability and Visibility

Document Genetics have developed a new technology called ParetoPost (click here for more info) to deliver electronic documents.

ParetoPost provides an assured method to deliver electronic documents instantly to your customers via a secure web portal. It's ideal for the guaranteed delivery of:

  • E-Billing - invoices, statements etc
  • Proof of Delivery
  • Purchase Orders
  • Drawings and project information
  • Staff documentation

Unlike email, you'll know who has viewed the document, the date and time that it was read, and any notes the recipient has added. It delivers electronic documents quickly, securely and with a low delivery cost (and we're confident you'll make an 80% saving over traditional post). The end-user experience is designed for simplicity and ease of use because you won't have the time or resource to train them.

Removing Excuses to Pay and Improve your DSO (Days Sales Outstanding)

If you're a credit controller chasing overdue invoices, using ParetoPost you'll be able to chase all the invoices which haven't been viewed or downloaded. If the debtor claims not to have seen it, you can quickly point them at their secure ParetoPost portal or resend the unique document web address. In simple terms you take away their excuse not to pay.

The Pareto Principle

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule), is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. Pareto further developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. The simple rule works in many different walks of life from nature through to economics.

In many business organisations, 80% of the revenue will come from 20% of the customers or turned around; a company will send 80% of its invoices to 20% of its customers.

ParetoPost - Free for your Top 20 Customers

Using the Pareto principle, it makes sense to implement a new invoicing strategy for your most important customers (the top 20%) as these are ones you send most invoices to (80% of the total invoices send).

We're so confident ParetoPost will revolutionise the way a business sends documents to its major customers, it's free to use for the top 20 customers.

Interfacing to your ERP system

Many new technology initiatives fall down as they're too complex and costly to integrate into an existing infrastructure. ParetoPost has been engineered so it's really simple to integrate with  ERP processes (from Sage to SAP) and simply grabs the existing print output. You can install ParetoPost on your own web-server, or we can host it for you.

For more info on ParetoPostâ„¢ follow this link.

Whether your business is still sending paper invoices or emailing them we hope we've given you the impetus to investigate e-billing with ParetoPost further!

Document Genetics

Document Genetics are focused on improving document automation, workflow and collaboration within your business. Our range of innovative document management software and services can help your business now.

To remain competitive in the cut-throat world of modern business you need a document management strategy. Areas we can help you address include:

  • web based document management
  • document scanning systems
  • faxing software
  • document creation and delivery
  • electronic invoicing (e-Billing)
  • intelligent invoice recognition solutions
  • document archiving
  • Kodak  business scanners

Postal Address and Contact Details

Document Genetics, Hall Farm, Sywell Airport, Sywell, Northants, NN6 0BN.

Contact this office for - General Enquiries, Sales, Accounts and Product Training

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