The word "invoice" itself is synonymous with a room full of binders filled with piles of papers waiting for time to allow them to go to the archive or recycling center for most people...
The idea of printing every document two or more times has always seemed utterly pointless to me, and this is something that happens thousands of times a day in some companies as if their primary activity were running a printing press. This volume would make even some professional systems envious. I've even met an enterprising director who went so far as to devise faster ways of punching holes in paper invoices packing and sorting them into binders. We don't even need to talk about the ecological damage caused by the consumption of paper and toner, and some companies even lose functional office space because of all the paperwork. One of my clients once told me that he had bought dozens of containers to store his invoice archives.
But there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. In recent years, changes in legislation in Serbia have led to an increase in the use of electronic invoices. This was mainly voluntary and often involved emailing a PDF document to the customer. But is this an electronic invoice or just digital paper? After all, the recipient would often print the invoice and put it in the binder above, and some even treated the PDF invoice as just information and insisted on receiving a hard copy by mail. On the positive side, this electronic invoice represents progress regarding reducing the carbon footprint. It doesn't require fuel for transportation, it arrives instantly, and it's not lost in transit. It's printed once, not two or more times. However, someone still needs to enter information into their information system manually. So, while a small step toward a fully electronic invoice has been taken, there's room for improvement.
Another aspect that many people need to remember is whether it's okay to print an electronically received invoice and file it or if there should be a proper system for storing it. We've forgotten to explain to users that electronic invoices must be stored electronically and what kind of systems are needed for this, regardless of the size of the system. Even small systems need an IT strategy to adapt to digital changes.
Starting next year, legal regulations will require the mandatory use of electronic invoices for transactions with government institutions and later between all business entities. Will we finally get a digital invoice, then? We're on the right path for that to happen. The ecological invoice we're waiting for is more than just a document that saves paper, toner, and fuel or is sent by email. It's an electronic record sent from one system through information intermediaries to another, reducing data entry and manual work by operators, accountants, and bookkeepers to a minimum, turning them into process controllers focusing on information quality.
Will it be difficult? Yes, it will. Will it take time for those who process large volumes to adapt and find an optimal way of using it? Yes, it will. Will the utterly digital method of transmitting invoices bring transparency to everyone? Yes, I believe it will. And that's what we need to remember. If you've ever been in a position where invoices are part of your job, you've probably heard stories about invoices being forgotten in drawers or the PDF above ending up in the "Junk" email folder. The utterly digital invoice will put an end to this. Having high-quality and up-to-date information in the business records of all system users will allow us to manage our business more efficiently and effectively, focusing on our core activities of creating and improving our companies rather than being more efficient with paper and archives.
An utterly eco-friendly invoice will only consume electricity, and we can discuss environmentally friendly methods of electricity production some other time.