e-invoicing for Law Firms

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1 Blue Car Technologies Limited e-invoicing for Law Firms Cloud-based invoice automation Blue Car Technologies Ltd Soane Point 6-8 Market Place Reading Berkshire RG1 4EG T: F:

2 e-invoicing for Law Firms Table of Contents What is e-invoicing?... 1 Estimated Cost Savings... 3 Myth 1: e-invoicing is difficult Myth 2: e-invoicing is expensive Myth 3: e-invoicing is for big companies Myth 4: My invoicing process is good enough as it is Benefits of sending e-invoices... 5 Benefits of receiving e-invoices... 5 Making the Switch to e-invoicing... 6 Invoice Delivery: Sending 100% e-invoices from Day One... 6 Send e-invoices Directly from your Billing System... 7 e-invoice and Delivery... 7 Printing Service... 7 Customer Activation... 7 Archiving... 7 Monitoring and Security... 8 Open Platform... 8 Start e-invoicing Today... 8

3 e-invoicing for Law Firms For senior finance executives in law firms today, the future has never looked so challenging or so exciting. The Euro zone is being sorely tested, with potentially serious implications for firms that trade with it and within it. Globalisation is causing unpredictable shifts in market dynamics, with new customers, suppliers and innovations emerging in unlikely places. In an uncertain economy, many businesses are becoming more cautious in their buying decisions, making sales cycles even longer. When deciding how to respond to these factors, law firms must choose wisely and resist the temptation to make near-sighted cuts that could damage future prospects. Any new cost-cutting ideas must be aligned with the firm s long-term vision. All of these uncertainties mean that now is a good time to focus on what can be done internally to improve financial visibility and predictability. This white paper discusses how partners and managers responsible for the financial aspects of a law firm can cut costs and improve visibility almost instantly, by replacing paper-based invoice processes with e-invoices. Moving to 100% e-invoicing isn t the biggest strategic decision you ll ever make, but it s something you can do now that will make an immediate, positive impact on your financial management costs and forward visibility. What is e-invoicing? For something so simple, there s been a lot of myth and confusion surrounding e-invoicing in the past 20 years myths and confusion that have discouraged many law firms from implementing it. In its purest form, e-invoicing means sending invoices in a machine-readable format, directly from your ERP systems to your client s back-end systems. It also means receiving invoices from your suppliers in the same way. The ultimate goal is full invoice automation: sending and receiving 100% of invoices electronically with no paper or manual intervention anywhere in the process. To start with, let s define what we re discussing. An e-invoice: Is an invoice that is sent and received electronically Is an invoice that always consists of both data and an image, which are used to automate invoice processing and archiving An e-invoice is not: An ed PDF A scanned version of a paper invoice A faxed invoice An EDI or XML data file 1

4 The compelling benefits that come from being able to send and receive 100% of invoices electronically are well-proven and consistent across a broad range of different business environments: Eliminate 40-60% of your invoice-handling costs Relieve the compliance headache Dramatically reduce inbound queries from customers and suppliers Get paid faster Take advantage of early-payment discounts Avoid late-payment penalties on supplier invoices Improve relationships with your customers and suppliers Get much better visibility of cash flow Cut out everything from printing, stuffing envelopes and postage, to scanning received invoices, manually matching data, filing and archiving paper copies and re-keying invoice data into the ERP system. Automatically apply the correct tax and legal requirements (e.g. digital signatures) to each invoice, so you don t have to worry about delays due to non-compliant invoices. Ensure that every invoice you send to clients is accurate, contains all the requisite information, and complies with current tax and business legislation in the relevant countries. Transfer your accurate, compliant invoices instantly to your clients accounts payable systems, with no delays or human error. Enabling your suppliers to submit invoices directly into your accounts payable systems means you can meet every deadline for earlypayment discounts. It has been estimated that 50-60% of early-payment discounts go unclaimed because of the time delays involved in manual invoice processing. Labour-intensive invoice processing within your firm can result in late payment of supplier invoices, leading to avoidable penalty charges being levied against the firm. Automating your accounts payable process will help avoid these charges. Clients will prefer to work with firms who can produce e-invoices and your suppliers will be happy when they see they re getting paid faster and reducing their own invoicing costs. See an up-to-the-minute view of invoices coming in and going out of your systems, and reduce the time it takes for your invoices to be paid. 2

5 On their own, each of these benefits represents a big improvement in financial efficiency. Taken together, they can deliver huge cost savings and greatly improved visibility, enabling you to make better-informed decisions on the use of credit lines and working capital. Estimated Cost Savings Based on market research carried out both in the USA and Europe, the following example is based on a law firm sending out 50,000 paper invoices a year: Average cost of printing and posting one paper invoice 1.25 Total annual cost of sending invoices 62,500. The law firm then decides to outsource its outbound invoicing to a partner who will take over all the printing and postage, and at the same time convert as many customers as possible to receiving e- Invoices. The initial annual cost of sending 50,000 paper invoices could then look like this: Start-up fee 3,000 Monthly service fee 250 Processing fee ( 1 x 50,000 invoices) 50,000 Customer activation campaign 2,000 Total invoice processing cost in year 1 is 58,000 Total cost saving in Year 1 is 4,500 However, with every customer the partner converts to receiving e-invoices, the cost drops dramatically. An e-invoice costs only around 0.25p to send, so assuming the partner manages to convert all customers and move the enterprise to 100% e-invoicing, the annual cost could look like this: Monthly service fee 250 Processing fee ( 0.25p x 50,000 Invoice) 12,500 Sending e-invoices (annual cost) 15,500 Sending e-invoices (annual saving) 47,000 Although it may not be possible to convert 100% of your customers to e-invoicing, experience shows that it s usually the case that the majority of customers will actually want to convert to e-invoicing. Choosing the right e-invoicing partner is obviously the key here, since not all e-invoicing platforms make it easy for customers to convert to e-invoicing. The conclusion from the above is simple; wherever there s paper, there s wasted time and money. Cut out the paper and those problems are solved, while at the same time providing additional environmental benefits. If it s such a strong business case however, why aren t more law firms moving to e-invoicing? The truth is that many are but, conversely, many are still being held back by myths held over from the early years of e-invoicing. Myth 1: e-invoicing is difficult. Small and midsize businesses understand the benefits of sending and receiving invoices electronically, but many think the move to e-invoicing will be too painful to be worth it. That s 3

6 because, in the past, it has been painful. It has often meant customising or replacing finance systems, getting to grips with different data formats and legal requirements, signing up to multiple e-invoicing networks or services and training finance and procurement staff on the new systems and processes. But times have moved on. Today, you only need to choose one service provider to connect to hundreds of thousands of customers and suppliers worldwide. Choose a provider with an open network and let that network handle all your invoices for you: transmitting them in the right format for each of your customers, whether that s paper, PDF or full e-invoicing (digital signatures and all). So today, there s no need to restructure your systems or processes and no need to know your XML from your EDI. You can get up and running with e-invoicing in just a few days, and start seeing benefits immediately. Myth 2: e-invoicing is expensive. You can see from the earlier example that this is not the case. Training costs are negligible and you don t need to change your finance systems, so there s no retraining required. You will want to do some training on why you re moving to e-invoicing and how it works, but this is quickly and easily done. With most of the upfront cost and effort gone, it won t be long before you start seeing benefits; businesses using e-invoicing services often report that they ve seen tangible business value in a matter of weeks. Myth 3: e-invoicing is for big companies. In the early days of electronic data interchange (EDI), e-invoicing was so expensive and complex to set up that it was only really big firms that could benefit from its economies of scale. But today, the smallest law firms even those handling less than 100 invoices a month can access a lightweight solution for sending and receiving invoices electronically. Getting started, choosing the right service and connecting to an open e-invoicing network has never been faster, easier or more affordable, and when you start sending e-invoices you ll see immediate benefits. Some of your current clients may struggle to pay paper invoices promptly, but with e- Invoicing there are no delays in getting it into their system, meaning you get paid faster. Myth 4: My invoicing process is good enough as it is. Your invoicing process certainly works. If it didn t you wouldn t be reading this, because you wouldn t be in business. But there are two fundamental questions to ask about it: 1. Is my invoicing process causing problems for my bigger clients? 2. Is my invoicing process holding my business back? The answer to question 1 is simple: if it isn t now, it soon will be. Market research has shown that 78% of large enterprises would like suppliers to e-invoice them rather than send paper or ed invoices. Law firms that can e-invoice are more likely to get preferred supplier status, which means more business. Soon, it may be the only way to keep working with big companies and government buyers, so it pays to start e-invoicing now. 4

7 The answer to question 2 is a resounding yes. Hundreds of studies have been done into invoicing efficiency, and they all come back saying the same thing: manual invoice processing is a massively flawed process that wastes opportunities and loses money left, right and centre. For example: Invoices that have missing or inaccurate information can take days or even weeks to resolve before the invoice can be processed and paid 64% of enterprises claim to suffer time loss as a result of manual processes related to payment processing Remember, e-invoicing is not just about sending invoices to your clients (accounts receivable), but also about streamlining your purchasing and accounts payable function. By implementing an e- Invoicing solution that addresses both accounts receivable AND accounts payable, you ll see immediate benefits from both parts of the business. Benefits of sending e-invoices By cutting out manual handling, paper, print and postage for your outbound invoices, you can start seeing major benefits often from day one of doing things electronically. Meeting your clients e-invoicing requirements makes it easy to do business with your firm, you don t lose any customers, and you become a prime candidate for preferred supplier status. Get your invoices to their destination faster so that you get paid faster, often weeks earlier than you would when sending paper invoices. Trade anywhere in the world by exchanging business documentation quickly and seamlessly with overseas customers, partners and suppliers. Keep tighter control of cash flow and working capital by enabling faster payments and better visibility into invoice and payment status, so that you can make more informed financial decisions. Slash invoicing costs by up to 60% by cutting out paper, printing, envelope-stuffing and postage, then free up staff to do higher-value work. Boost your green credentials by banishing paper and physical transportation from your invoicing process. Benefits of receiving e-invoices Receiving every invoice electronically eliminates manual handling, including opening envelopes, keying in data, and matching to purchase orders. You can reduce processing costs by up to 90%. Save hours of admin time. With no incoming invoices to open, scan, forward, file and archive, your administrative overheads can be decimated overnight. Reap early payment discounts and make sure you benefit from every early payment discount on offer. Match documents automatically so that you spend less time matching supplier invoices to agreements and purchase orders, resulting in faster, less expensive invoice handling. Bring new suppliers on board faster. Get your suppliers activated on the same network and start getting value from the relationship earlier. Free up office space. With no paper invoices to file and archive, you can free up physical space, or even reduce the amount of space you require. 5

8 Making the Switch to e-invoicing The quickest way to get to 100% e-invoicing is to select a partner that will do the majority of the heavy lifting for you. By heavy lifting, we mean taking care of all of the processes that need to be in place for your customers to receive e-invoices from you, and for your suppliers to send you e- Invoices. Your customers and suppliers are companies of all different sizes, with differing levels of financial sophistication and complexity. While they may be receptive to the idea of e-invoicing, many will lack the time, confidence and expertise to make the transition unaided. That s where Blue Car Technologies come in. With over 15 years of experience and expertise gained within the legal sector, we offer law firms tailored and specialist IT advice and solutions and have practical experience of the benefits that e-invoicing can deliver. The Blue Car e-invoicing platform is based on the Basware Open Network, a commerce network built over the last decade that offers instant liquidity, information transparency and multi-enterprise collaboration. It connects seamlessly with over 130 international e-invoicing platforms making it the largest inter-operator network in the world. Every year, the Open Network hosts millions of transactions from hundreds of thousands of active buyers and sellers, and it s growing all the time. Blue Car s expertise in the legal sector and Basware s proven cloud-based platform is a winning combination for any law firm looking to make the switch to e-invoicing, and will ensure the maximum return in the shortest period of time. Invoice Delivery: Sending 100% E-Invoices from Day One With Blue Car s e-invoice you can send all your invoices electronically, and we ll deliver them to recipients in the formats that they prefer: directly to their invoice processing system or through . And if your customers don t have the capability to receive e-invoices, we ll print out the invoices for them. Because of the flexibility we offer to you and your customers, you can safely and securely send 100% of your invoices as e-invoices right away. It s as easy as that. 6

9 Send e-invoices Directly from your Billing System Blue Car offers a range of options for sending and receiving e-invoices to ensure you can benefit from 100 % e-invoices from day one. We ve made it as easy as possible for you to send e-invoices in fact you can even send them directly from your billing system. You have a variety of options for connecting to our e-invoicing platform and sending invoices, including using a software client, a secure FTP connection or printing e-invoices virtually to Blue Car. No matter how you connect to us, we ll ensure that your invoices will be routed safely to your customers. We also take care of data validation, format conversions, legal compliance and, if needed, digital signatures on your behalf. Blue Car s e-invoice also supports attachments. E-Invoice and Delivery E-Invoices are delivered through our platform directly to your customers invoice processing system or to their preferred operator, which would handle the e-invoice delivery. If your customer can t receive e-invoices, we can deliver them in a secure link through . Printing Service Blue Car offers a printing service to accommodate invoices that can t be delivered as e-invoices or through . Our printing service provides customers with an outsourced, high-quality printing process, which includes postage. We have access to a global network of partners with printing facilities in several locations so that by selecting the nearest printing location, your accounts receivable department can ensure timely delivery of printed invoices. Customer Activation To accelerate your customers adoption of e-invoicing, we offer a professional service that helps them get ready to receive invoices electronically through our platform. We provide tools for customer activation, as well as informational materials detailing the steps involved to get on board and the benefits that e-invoicing offers. Archiving Our e-invoice archive stores your e-invoices in an online, VAT-compliant archive. Every e-invoice you send is automatically saved to the archive, which offers a powerful and easy-to-use web tool enabling quick access, search and audit trails. 7

10 100% e-invoicing for Accounts Receivable One single interface for your Law Firm, invoices delivered in appropriate format to all Clients Client Account s Receivable Law Firm Business Transactions Sender Blue Car e-invoicing Platform E-invoice Inter-Operator Connection Client Account s Payable Archive Printing Client Customer Activation Service Monitoring and Security To ensure invoice delivery, all of our hardware, software and telecommunications connections are monitored 24/7. All invoice traffic is authenticated and encrypted using a dedicated VPN connection over our secure network, and all files in transit are stored for three months. Open Platform Our e-invoicing platform is interoperable, enabling companies to easily and cost-effectively send and receive e-invoices with their trading partners globally, all through a single connection. It eliminates the high cost and limitations of traditional closed networks, and enables companies to gain the efficiencies, visibility and other benefits that e-invoicing delivers. This is the largest open network of its kind, with more than 140 e-invoice operators connecting hundreds of thousands of companies globally. Start e-invoicing Today No matter what size your business, it s never been easier to get started with e-invoicing. To find out more about moving to e-invoicing with Blue Car Technologies, please contact us with your questions or to arrange a no-obligation preliminary meeting where we can discuss how e-invoicing would work for your firm. 8

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