“Consider the environment – think before you print!” These days, you will find this or a similar statement on many invoices received by email or through online portals. But that’s just one small way companies and individuals can save the environment with electronic invoices; a digital office covers far more aspects than paperless workflows. The end goal is the digitalization and automation of specific processes. Invoice management can contribute quite a lot here.
The choice of options begins with the creation of invoices. The aim is to avoid paper bills and distribution by post, as that does not only lower the consumption of paper in the office, but it also saves on toner, package materials, postage and transport by distribution vehicles. Electronic invoices are a more environmentally-friendly alternative if consequently implemented. The right format is important: recommended are common formats, which can be read on a variety of devices with different operating systems for the entire duration of the retention period – even by machines. The advantage is that the invoice does not have to be converted. The size of the file is of relevance, too: it should be well compressed. This saves storage space and, as a result, energy in the data centres and resources for the manufacture and transport of hardware. If all the above requirements are to be considered, standard formats like XRechnung and ZUGFeRD or PDF/A are viable contestants.
Send and receive invoices – the smart way
The next vital element is the distribution of electronic invoices. There are different dispatch options, from online portals over special distribution solutions to email billing. Most efficient and most environmentally-friendly are solutions requiring as little manual interaction as possible – for example, ones that support automatic document retrieval. It doesn’t only save nerves, but energy, as well – both at the user’s PC and in the data centre.
Another crucial point is the electronic processing of invoices – that is, the opposite of the legally inadmissible, but still widespread “print and file” approach. A software like GetMyInvoices can help you here. Our invoice management software automatically retrieves invoices and other documents from thousands of sources; from online portals over email postboxes to third-party solutions. The latter include anybill – an app that digitally transmits receipts to the customer’s smartphone, to avoid the printing of receipts on pollutant-coated thermal paper.
Automatic processing in the cloud
GetMyInvoices’ artificial intelligence reads relevant information like invoice number and amounts. Thus, all documents, along with the structured information, can be found in one location. Not only can they be securely archived there, but they can also be transmitted without any manual effort to the tax consultant, all common accounting software, and other applications. The user saves many hours behind the computer as well as energy. Furthermore, he doesn’t have to maintain his own server – which also saves the environment, as the manufacture and transport of hardware requires resources and produces carbon dioxide. Future electronic waste is not an issue, either. Data retention in modern data centres, whose operators set great store by sustainability, are significantly more efficient. Since the throughput time of invoices is cut to a minimum by the automation, and processing is less error-prone, invoices can be settled faster. That, again, makes many reminders superfluous. Less corrections are needed, making another positive impact on the invoice processing time, the energy footprint, and CO2 emissions.
Many little cogwheels – all the way to deletion
Last, but not least, invoice processing includes the deletion of files that are no longer needed. That frees up storage space in the data centre, saves resources and lowers energy demands – while the destruction of paper-based invoices with a shredder necessitates transport and recycling, and devours energy.
As you can see, electronic invoice management consists of many little cogwheels that have, taken together, a major effect – and mark a mile stone on the path to paperless, digital offices. It’s important to consider the processes involved, to coordinate and finally automate those – and to count on a responsible partner.