E-invoicing has become an indispensable component of the modern global business landscape, streamlining transactions and enhancing efficiency. However, this transformation is not without its challenges. In this article, we delve into the intricacies that organizations encounter when navigating the e-invoicing environment across various countries.
The insights provided here are a result of discussions with experts in the field, including Piotr Jagiełło, Consulting Director at Comarch. In our latest webinar titled "Seamless Transition to E-invoicing: A Comprehensive Guide,” Piotr was joined by Meng Liu, Senior Analyst at Forrester, and Katya Kancheva, Business Solutions Manager at Comarch. Also, if you didn't manage to partcipate in our webinar, you can still watch it on-demand.
The Challenges in e-invoicing projects
In an ideal world, e-invoicing related continuous transaction control (CTC) would be simplified with a single governmental platform for every country. However, this is far from reality. In countries such as Brazil, the nuances of invoicing differ based on the type of business and product, making e-invoicing projects inherently complex.
The fundamental challenge lies in navigating the federalism or autonomous community systems present in countries such as Germany, Spain, and Brazil. Unlike the perception of a centralized platform, the reality involves navigating different services and goods platforms based on the type of product or service being offered.
In the European Union (EU), although there are established standards such as EN 16931, each country often has its own local specifications, adding to the complexity.
Additionally, Piotr Jagiełło observes the distinct contrast between governmental and private solutions:
Most government platforms are provided by companies or organizations with limited experience in this field, resulting in poor service quality and support.”
Another significant obstacle is the absence of complete status messages from many government platforms, making full automation a challenge. Changes in format or interface occurring with little documentation and short notice were also emphasized, underscoring the need for substantial preparation in advance.
Dynamic changes in the e-invoicing mandates
One of the major issues faced is the lack of transition phases between versions of applicable formats, leading to difficulties in maintaining compliance. Political decisions, stringent local certification requirements, and recurrent audits further contribute to the dynamic nature of the e-invoicing landscape.
The dynamics of change pose another challenge, with short preparation times making it difficult for businesses to adjust to new e-invoicing mandates. Changes in format or interface can occur abruptly, necessitating a rapid adjustment that may disrupt normal operations.
I think it’s good to be as prepared as possible well in advance,” said Piotr Jagiełło during the webinar. “Six months is not really a long time. Still, as I mentioned, many of these changes tend to occur in the last two months. You need to have your organizations and processes in order well in advance, so you’re prepared when the time comes. Being prepared allows you to have the necessary resources and manpower to implement the changes specific to each country.”
Complexities of e-invoicing in different countries
Various countries present their unique challenges in the realm of e-invoicing. In France, businesses must report payment information to the system after issuing transfers. On the other hand, in Poland, the government e-invoicing platform poses limitations, such as no support for attachments and the fact that the KSeF ID one receives from the platform is to be put into the payment title.
Many governmental platforms lack advanced technology and handy features, and often, the technical solution is overshadowed by the organizational changes necessary for customers to participate in invoicing. The language barrier and a lack of a functioning test environment further contribute to the complexity.
Even if you come across some English on the government platform’s documentation pages, it should not be assumed that it will be as up to date as the information in the local language,” emphasizes Piotr Jagiełło.
Strategies to navigate the e-invoicing landscape
To effectively navigate the diverse landscape of invoicing across different countries, meticulous planning and comprehensive analysis are essential. Piotr Jagiełło recommends the following strategies:
- First of all, please take a bird’s eye view of the project, and analyze all possible stakeholders, processes and document flows. Leave no stone unturned.
- While gathering necessary information, always emphasize the priority of the project. Lack of compliance is typically sanctioned with heavy fines, and everybody should be well aware of that.
- It is worth including in the project people with interdisciplinary knowledge of, for example, IT and tax in the project, as they improve the communications between different stakeholders and working groups.
- I know that this is not the easiest part, but try to have complete technical and business documentation. This helps a lot with roll-outs to further countries and is with each project extension easier to maintain.
- Because the testing is sometimes tough, find trading partners with which you can exchange test documents.
Understanding the complexities and preparing meticulously are essential to navigating the diverse landscape of e-invoicing across different countries effectively. By adopting a comprehensive approach and considering the nuances of each country's invoicing system, organizations can streamline their e-invoicing processes and ensure compliance with varying regulatory frameworks.