Compliance complexity inhibits implementing e-invoicing

September 15, 2008  |  Adoption, Publications

Complexity of compliance is inhibiting almost half of European businesses from implementing e-Invoicing

At SIBOS, Sterling Commerce, an AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) company, today unveiled research revealing that European businesses are struggling to fully exploit the benefits of electronic invoicing and are held back by a fear of complexity in addressing regulatory compliance requirements and legislation.

At a time when achieving cost efficiencies and effective resource utilization is crucial to maintaining competitive differentiation, the move from paper-based to electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) comes as a key opportunity for businesses today. In spite of this, the research found that 40 percent of European companies are yet to make a decision to implement an automated e-invoicing solution.

The survey, conducted by independent research company Vanson Bourne across 400 IT managers in the UK, France, Germany and Italy, found that the most pressing e-invoicing concern for European businesses is compliance with national e-invoicing legislation. In addition, with 72 percent of European companies currently conducting business in more than six countries around the world, more than half admitted they were concerned about supporting disparate e-invoicing solutions across multiple geographies. A quarter of responses also negatively highlighted the complexities associated with implementing multiple solutions to handle value added tax (VAT) compliance and audit requirements across the countries in which they operate. 

“Knowing that more than half of the correspondents are doing business in the U.S. as well, the results are staggering that more than half of European businesses are struggling to effectively conduct business across global barriers,” said Chris Johnson, vice president, global management and marketing, B2B Integration for Sterling Commerce.  “The benefits of moving from paper-based to e-invoicing are widely known and accepted, yet the reality for many businesses is that even for e-invoicing projects that do receive budget approval, a dependence on multiple solutions to handle compliance with multiple VAT and tax regulations across different territories, is ultimately undermining project success.”

The research also discovered that 80 percent of respondents believed that their finance department could not quantify the amount of VAT at risk if the company was found to be non-compliant.

“One of the problems with any paper-based process is that it is often hard to track the costs and inefficiencies involved – the inefficient nature of the manual process itself prevents easy quantification of the potential savings,” continued Johnson. “If just from a commercial and competitive perspective, companies must move away from these highly inefficient processes. The costs and issues associated with paper-based invoicing, coupled with the associated lack of visibility into a company’s cash management do impact the bottom line, a risk that should be avoided particularly at a time when cost saving and effective resource utilization are so important.”

Sterling Commerce recently launched the first solution to market that enables multi-national organizations to automate electronic invoicing processes worldwide, while maintaining conformity with the tax regulations mandated by each of the particular regions. Sterling e-Invoice Gateway eliminates the need to support separate solutions for each geography; reduces risk and exposure by enabling compliance with ever-changing electronic invoicing tax regulations; and improves operational efficiencies and contains costs by automating both buyer and seller electronic invoice processes in accordance with country-specific tax regulations.

Sterling Commerce is exhibiting Sterling e-Invoice Gateway and its broad portfolio of Financial Services solutions at stand C617, hall C at SIBOS 2008, from Sept. 15-19, in Vienna. To find out more about Sterling Commerce activities, visit

About Sterling Commerce
Sterling Commerce, an AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) company, helps customers thrive in a global economy by connecting their business communities, processes, people, and technology.  More than 30,000 customers worldwide – including 82 percent of the Fortune 500 – use Sterling Commerce solutions for business process integration, multi-channel selling, and supply chain fulfillment to improve profitability inside and outside their company walls.  Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Sterling Commerce has offices in 19 countries and most major cities around the world. More information on the company can be found at

Published by: Sterling Commerce


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