"eInvoicing LivingLabs" to the Resque of SME’s

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Helsinki, 20 July, 2005 — "eInvoicing LivingLabs" to the Resque of SME’s

eBusiness regional projects in Finland are referred to as "eInvoicing LivingLabs" with the focus to help SMEs to start implementing new ICT applications and employees to use them efficiently. One of the main purposes of the regional projects is to speed up the adoption of eInvoicing in B2B and B2C with the regional target set to reach eInvoicing penetration level of 50 per cent in two years. In four months’ time, September to December 2004, 10 000 more SME’s started to use eInvoicing in Finland.

By experience we have found out that in order to achieve this goal it is necessary to combine all regional players to support the project, tells project manager Kari Korpela from South- Karelia eBusiness region in South-Eastern Finland.

Larger Entities Serve as Catalysts

Large companies and public organizations (often called ePioneers in Finland) have great interest in receiving eInvoices and, thus, on automating their supply chain management processes, procurement, and bookkeeping, explains Korpela.

The same desire is visible in Global Business networks which have become very important to SMEs. The first step large companies commonly demand from SME's is that they start utilizing eInvoices.

Software companies have to implement new eInvoice standards in their software applications, as the new eBusiness applications will give more freedom to spread and share the work between SME's and auditing companies.

Banks Play a Major Role

Banks play an important role being able to provide the needed infrastructure and a solid opportunity to ease the workload when transferring the document exchange with business partners into electronic form. In the Finnish example the banks have not only delivered the e-invoice format, but the Finnish Banker’s Association’s electronic Finvoice solution also includes a working model with role descriptions, responsibilities, and needed supporting routines for communication.

One of the main benefits of the work is that corporate customers of any size can now join the network with their preferred solution. For some this would be the NetBank, for others more advanced Enterprise Resource Planning ERP system. These two different interfaces will then interact and enable the parties to communicate.

Banks have also put a lot of effort to ensure that the straight through processing requirements will be fulfilled, having moved the focus further from mere workflow parts with the electronic images of the invoices.

Works Also in B2C Transactions

The solution will also cater to the needs of B2C eInvoicing. This way corporate customers can really start to streamline their invoicing based on their business needs instead of the availability of technical solutions, tells Vice President Raimo Näätsaari from Nordea Bank.

eInvoice is a win-win solution to all players bringing better competitiveness to the economy as a whole, however, only when the degree of usage of the eInvoices is high enough. In this, public financing could speed up the adoption of eInvoices by helping SMEs.

Regional eBusiness projects in different parts of Finland have an important role in the development in keeping all the palyers around the table by means of workshops, real-life testing, and by providing discussion forums. In that regard the eInvoicing LivingLab is a very important mechanism, tells Project Manager Jarmo Kovero from Päijät-Häme eBusiness reagion.

The writer of the article Kari Korpela is a Project Manager in Technology Centre Kareltek Inc. The article is published in ICT Cluster Finland Review 2005.

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ICT Cluster Finland Review 2005