The administration departments of EU member states must accept and be able to process electronic invoices by 2018 at the latest – this is stipulated by the corresponding EU directive. Implementing this directive represents a challenge. Yet the City of Bremen has done some calculations and it is worth it.
Eleven to 40 EUR per invoice…
Just the incoming invoices, which are received by the public administration in Bremen, amount to a quarter of a million documents each year – and represent a considerable cost in terms of working hours, paper, personnel and archiving. When it comes to sending out invoices, there is also the cost of postage to factor in.
…this adds up to several million euros
Until now, every invoice had to be provided on paper. They land on the desk of the responsible administrator, who initials them and passes them on to colleagues for further processing. The paper invoice is then scanned in and entered into the system, where it is processed further. If you take these figures as a basis and multiply them by the number of invoices, you soon reach several millions of euros spent each year on incoming invoices alone.
Bremen is making progress
It is no surprise that Bremen has taken action and is seeking to develop a concept for uniform standards and a uniform invoice data format as part of a flagship project. The local Coordination Office for Standards in Information Technology (KoSIT) is also involved, together with the senate and the Chamber of Trade and Commerce.
Portal for creating invoices
With digital incoming invoices, the entire procedure should become more efficient and transparent, and will save a great deal of money. But this money must not lead to increased costs for small and medium-sized businesses who send invoices to Bremen city council. An idea that is being followed within the project deserves special mention in this regard: Those responsible have been testing a portal in a pilot project. This portal can be used by smaller companies to compile their invoices via an online form and to then send them directly to the council. The benefit: These companies do not need to spend time working out the new system and can write invoices which fulfil the required standards quickly and without any additional effort.
If a portal like this can be successful, it could make a difference across Germany and Europe. Let us hope so!