Embracing e-invoicing in the public sector
Australian public sector agencies are under significant pressure to manage the current COVID-19 crisis while maintaining services, containing costs and driving the nation’s economic recovery.
Additionally, growing demand for integrated government policies and services, rapid technological change and increasing cybersecurity risks have required greater levels of integration between Australian government agencies, as well as more collaboration across public, private, non-profit and community sectors.
To help address these challenges, federal, state and local governments are adopting a whole-of-government approach whereby public sector agencies work formally and informally across portfolio boundaries and all levels of government to achieve a shared goal and a consistent response to issues. This is being further driven by the Australian Taxation Office’s mandate to have all federal public sector agencies adopt e-invoicing as a consistent approach to the management of supplier invoices by 1 July 2022.
Considering more than 1.2 billion invoices are exchanged annually in Australia, which involves a significant level of public sector resources, e-invoicing is anticipated to save the national economy $28 billion over the next decade while also supporting the whole-of-government approach and resolving many current public sector issues.1
Public sector issues that e-invoicing resolves
E-invoicing in Australia is based on the successful International PEPPOL (Pan European Public Procurement On-Line) platform. It will help Australian government agencies across all levels of government to more seamlessly resolve issues around maintaining services, containing costs, and driving the nation’s economic recovery through benefits such as:
- improving administrative efficiencies and reducing costs through automating manual processes and streamlining workflows within and across agencies. E-invoices cost less than $10 to process compared to around $30 for a paper-based or PDF invoice due to the extensive time saved on manual processing
- returning cashflow to suppliers faster by helping to reduce public sector payment cycles down to as little as five days. This gets cashflow back to businesses and back to communities much faster to help drive the nation’s economic recovery
- delivering real-time data insights that help public sector agencies more efficiently monitor and manage services and expenditure
- providing scalability that makes government agencies more adaptable to change, while complying with governance and legislative requirements
- enhanced security that significantly reduces the risk of duplicate and fraudulent invoices, while also reducing the risk of a security breach in public sector financial processes.
Three essential elements of a public sector e-invoicing solution
There are three essential things that public sector agencies need for an e-invoicing solution:
1. A trusted software partner with Australian public sector compliance experience
Using a trusted supplier that has extensive knowledge of the Australian public sector, and government compliance, helps speed the time to e-invoicing implementation while reducing cost and risk. This gives Australian public sector agencies peace of mind when it comes to ensuring compliance with ATO e-invoicing requirements. A supplier with Australian public sector experience can also help to optimise the e-invoicing solution to meet public sector agency needs.
2. Software that integrates with existing systems to reduce operational cost and security risks.
E-invoicing should improve and support internal processes and streamline workflows, while also supporting optimum levels of accountability and governance. As a result, the solution should save public sector agencies money by improving internal efficiencies and reducing staff time spent on manual tasks. This is achieved through technology-agnostic e-invoicing software that seamlessly integrates with existing public sector systems.
3. An ability to work across public sector suppliers that have e-invoicing capabilities and those that don’t.
It may take some time for all businesses, especially small businesses, to adopt e-invoicing, so it’s essential for public sector agencies to deliver data security and fast invoice payment benefits to all suppliers, whether a supplier uses e-invoicing software or not.
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