PDF Invoices: creating more paperwork than it saves [RESEARCH]

February 14, 2012  |  Adoption, Electronic Invoicing, Research

A free study published by AIIM shows that the exchange of PDF files as e-mail attachments is said to have reduced the volume of paperwork traded between IT professionals. It however shows that that reduction is minimal at best, but quite possibly creates more paperwork than it saves.

However we have to take into account that PDF invoices are heavily used and can be the step stone to broad scale adoption of more efficient ways of exchanging data.

The startling facts of PDF as invoices

So what does this research show? Here are some observations:

  • Over three-quarters of IT professionals surveyed say one of the first things they do with a PDF-based invoice… is print it out.
  • [Now something ridiculous] From the 77% of the 395 respondents that print out their invoices, 16% scan the invoices right back into the system for use as……PDF attachments.
  • Some 10% print out their PDF invoices multiple times.
  • 10% say they print out at least one copy for archival purposes.
  • Some more details:


Old school PDF versus new school PDF

Now, the said thing is that they used a plain old, very old school, PDF invoice as an example. But there are a lot of examples available of much more intelligent PDF invoices. Like PDF invoices that incorporates and XML file with all the relevant invoice. Or PDF invoice with payments buttons.

That said. And from looking at the statistics and the trends in e-invoicing, intelligent PDF invoices can pave the path to the broad scale adoption of much more efficient ways of data exchange.

To download the study you can register for free at AIIM, using your e-mailadres

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  1. Hello, small clarification that the report referenced in this post is in fact free. Thanks for the insightful summary.

  2. Dear Cheryl McKinnon,

    Thank you for your comment. We believed the report is free, but registering for AIMM isn’t.

    Perhaps you could provide us a link to your page from where visitors can download the report?


  3. It’s true that we humans naturally want to manage, mark up, and save invoices (or anything else) in our own way. Going paperless is tough, because one has to change mental mindsets, and part of that is figuring out how to easily exert the personal control of the information that’s possible with a piece of paper.

    At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I submit that our company is trying to help humans make that transition!

    Qoppa Software’s desktop tools (PDF Studio 7 on Mac, Windows, Linux or qPDF Notes on Android) make it easier for humans to actually manage the PDFs they collect. PDF invoices can be collected into separate files, bookmarked by date or whatever method the user wants, marked with whatever notes are relevant, and even emailed to someone else without leaving the tool.

  4. A project of PDF-invoicing and even the EDI-invoicing can not be a standalone sollution. When going for electronic invoicing, you not only take the way of receiving invoices in account, but you need also look for a full paperless treatment after the point of entry.

    Chosing a full paperless treatment means:
    * Scan all paper invoices into a digital image.
    * Use a OCR-technology for interpretation of the images (ex Readsoft).
    * Integrate the PDF-invoicing on the level of the OCR-system so there’s no difference anymore between a scanned invoice and a PDF-invoice
    * Store all (scanned/PDF)images in a digital archiving system that is linked with your ERP-system.
    * Integrate all EDI-invoices in your ERP-system. Make sure that you provide an image based on your EDI-data.
    * Approve all this invoices based on a matching with your order (2-way or 3-way) or by your internal customer by electronic signature.

    When you’re organised like this, benefits of e-invoicing are very high.