E-Invoicing the Customer (rant)

Lately our AR team has an increasing issue with Customers insisting we invoice them using a host of e-invoicing systems like Ariba, Tungsten, or whatever other best-of-breed they can come up with.

A large part of the problem is that our invoices do not fit the traditional mould of invoicing a raw materials shipment. Our invoices are lengthy, and as complex as the production lines we sell. Sometimes the SO amounts are estimates, yet the invoicing systems demand exact matches to the PO (and rightfully so). Adding to the complexity is our use of milestone billings and the discounts or penalties when milestones are met or not that change line total amounts.

We are losing hours of work by AR making a final invoice fit so the total dollar amount matches, and there doesn’t seem to be a simple fix. The Customers’ procurement departments seem not prepared to handle these type of invoices, as they are not like most of their other invoices.

One way of dealing with this would be to decline the use of e-invoicing systems that go beyond submitting e-mailed PDF versions of our invoices. I am not sure though if this is commonly done and how well this would go over with our customers.

Sorry for the somewhat off-topic rant, but I would be interested in hearing if anyone else has the same issues, or if there is a better way to handle this from a business systems point of view?



We’ve had some customers request special treatment and if they are big enough then we try to accommodate, your best bet is going to be EDI?
Or write custom integrations but I’m guessing each customer is using something different so you are going to be up a creek

You could try to refuse, but sometimes customers will go elsewhere if you refuse, that is the nature of business I suppose.

It is a tough nut to crack though

We have EDI and also deal with 3 other systems – Ariba, Corcentric and Coupa for different customers. One of our customers has us log into their portal to download the order, but the invoice is emailed.

Our goal is to move all these separate systems to EDI by the end of this year, since these separate systems are a waste of time and duplicate work.

But in your case even EDI may not work, since it requires the Invoice to match the PO. Third party systems are very rigid. If the EDI was direct to the customer it can be programmed to accept variations. But then again you need customer co-operation for that.

Vinay Kamboj

It is what it is, I guess. We have decided to approach our customers and try to get them to cooperate with us in making the process work for both parties… I hope we can ease some of the invoicing pains…