An Australian e-invoicing project predicted to transform the national economy with an estimated $7-$10 billion annually is set to undergo a detailed Cost and Benefits Study on widespread government adoption.
The study, outlined in the Federal budget, will identify how the government can unlock the potential for e-invoicing to improve government efficiency and signal cost savings. Broader adoption of e-invoicing with state and territory, and local governments will also be considered in the study.
E-invoicing is a broadly used term covering the automated exchange and processing of invoice related documents between suppliers and buyers, in a structured electronic or digital format.
The move to review e-invoicing in government is welcomed by the Digital Business Council (Council), the group spearheading the national e-invoicing project.
“Council sees the adoption of e-invoicing as a critical first step to digitising the full procure-to-pay process. The budget statement confirms that we are progressing down a sensible positive path for economy-wide benefits,” said Council co-chair, Peter Strong, in a statement.
“This is a significant initiative which will save the economy billions of dollars,” Strong added, explaining how the review will enhance the considerable efforts already underway in the business community to promote and adopt e-invoicing.
The detailed review will support Council’s mandate to target publication of an e-invoicing Interoperability Framework on July 1, 2016. Strong noted that Council feels encouraged that the government has recognised the potential benefits of e-invoicing to its business, particularly now that an open framework of standards is being developed.
The framework will provide certainty on how a prescribed set of established open standards can be used to extend e-invoicing to all Australian business, including the government.
The Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer, Kelly O’Dwyer said the study is expected to benefit small businesses as they will spend less time entering invoice data for government and more time developing and growing their business.
Government adoption of e-invoicing not only has the potential to save public agencies time and money, but also means that each of their partners, including small businesses, can uncover significant productivity benefits, Strong said.
IBRS advisor, Alan Hansell, told CIO Australia he welcomed the push for e-invoicing adoption in government, but warned its widespread use could expose some weakness at some agencies.
“I can only see benefits ensuing. It will accelerate transfer of funds and create efficiencies. Agencies will have to smarten up their processes and enhance their systems which could expose some as neglecting to keep them current,” Hansell said.