#BQs – Why do we need to focus on data quality? An E-invoicing example

The bloodstream of all organisation is its sales and purchase transactions and it is undoubtedly one of your most critical data sources.  To be successful with your digital transformation – data is key.

Here is an expanded example of where the transformative journey should begin.

Have transactions, have data. Have power!

The makeup of your buying and selling transactions come in many forms and shapes, and associated documents and supporting communications constitute of business data which can be used to create efficiencies, generate insights and a great place to start your business process automation projects.  It’s a veritable goldmine for any forward-thinking CFO or data analysts alike.

Are we digital enough?

Today, invoices are not only processed on software apps on desktop computers but in the cloud and even on mobile apps as you walk the streets for business.

And approval processes are faster than ever using ultra-connected processes, with some invoices being approved by robots that check internal policy instead of a human audit.

So aren’t all organisations digitised to a high degree already?  After all the first e-document ever sent was a shipping manifest down the Holland-America line via Telex way back in 1965… so why is progress so slow.

Get on top of the format confusion

Businesses still use far too much paper and analogue information in manually worked processes.  Processes that are mixed with varying degrees of new technologies;

  • Invoices on paper and PDF documents
  • Supplier registries in Excel sheets
  • A multitude of e-formats
  • And a box full of paper filed under “other documents”…

We must try harder, after all, we are masters of structured information ie: accounting and controlling, and only limiting our own business automation and opportunity to create a valuable data asset, this “hybrid” mess of a situation.

Digital transformation and truly digitised processes are all about reducing manual touch-points, resulting in entirely digital input and output data.

  • An e-invoice is not a PDF invoice.
  • Email is not optimal for B2B transactions.
  • Paper documents are a black hole of manual work and processing errors.

And first and foremost, you need to get on top of the data format confusion.

A financial-centric digitisation journey should start with an action plan to turn analogue transaction data input – offers, price lists, invoices – into digital data. E-invoice adoption is for most organisations the natural starting point as it is lower risk than focusing on customer-facing processes.

Your suppliers are essentials in this process and need to work with you or risk losing you as a customer, but by methodically incentivising – or forcing – your suppliers to adopt e-invoices, important data format steps will be made to enhance the quality your data and end-to-end transactional information.

Step #2: Enhance your organisation’s data quality

  • Identify the “hybrid” mess of formats you currently use.
  • Focus on improving the quality of your input invoice data.
  • Start a dialogue with your suppliers to adopt e-invoices.
  • This data is essential to a successful financial-centric digital transformation.

 

Stay tuned for learning #3…

Co-authored by Christopher Argent, Generation CFO and Per Holmlund, Qvalia, a Stockholm-based fintech company that improves and automates financial processes.  In help businesses in their digitisation journey, Qvalia offers the market’s only free PEPPOL-ready e-invoicing platform.

More big questions here – #BQs

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