New research conducted by SAP affirms the savings e-invoicing provides especially for SMEs. The connected SMB: Embracing digital strategies to fuel growth report reveals that 75 per cent of those who have transitioned to e-invoicing say that the biggest impact has been time and money saved. In addition, 56 per cent say that e-invoicing has improved the accuracy of recordkeeping and 53 per cent say it offers added protection from a cybersecurity perspective.
The findings are in line with a recent Deloitte study which reported that that e-invoicing could deliver savings of up to $20 per invoice, meaning Australia’s SMEs could save up to $40,320 a year.
“Running an SME comes with its challenges but switching to digital processes has been key to the survival of many businesses during the pandemic,” Sofiane Ainine, SMB Segment Lead at SAP Australia and New Zealand, said. “It frees up time and money to focus on other priorities like developing new products and finding new customers
“Now is the time for SMEs to review their adoption of technology. This will help them through the current crisis and set them up for future growth,” Ainine added.
“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of technology adoption in helping small businesses innovate – increasing efficiency and productivity, attracting new customers in different markets, improving customer and employee experiences,” Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson, commented in response to the report. “This helps them create more jobs.
“It’s encouraging that the research in this SAP report shows SMEs accelerating digital technology adoption,” Billson added. “Technologies like e-invoicing improve process efficiency and, importantly, will see small businesses paid more quickly for the products and services they provide.”
The research also allays the fears many business owners have about switching to e-invoicing, with 88 per cent of SMEs that had made the jump saying it was easy, and 18 per cent said they made the transition without external support. However, some SMEs say they will need help in the transition process, particularly with integrating the process into computer systems (36 per cent of respondents) and understanding what software to use (31 per cent).
“SME owners shouldn’t feel like they are alone on this journey. There are many sources of support ready to help them overcome hurdles and make the most of opportunities by sharing experiences and advising on the best approaches for their business,” Ainine said. “It’s about taking it one step at a time, learning what works and implementing digital initiatives that align to their goals.”
At the moment, 46 per cent of SMEs are doing most of their invoicing and recordkeeping online. Of this group, 26 per cent sought advice from their internal IT department, and 24 per cent from an external IT company, 26 per cent from their accountant, 22 per cent from a consultant and 18 per cent from the government.
The report also noted that during the past 18 months, many SMEs have fast-tracked the transition to digital processes, partly as a result of the pandemic. The research found most SMEs who use e-invoicing (75 per cent) are looking to digitise other business processes. Payroll is the top focus (72 per cent), followed by forecasting (42 per cent), debt collection (38 per cent), customer experience (33 per cent), and talent management (28 per cent).
Meanwhile, 54 per cent of SMEs say they will have digitised all account and account management processes within the next two years, with 44 per cent planning to do so within the next 12 months. To this end, 57 per cent of SMEs cited the need for increased government support in the form of information, services, subsidies and grants in order to help their business continue in their digital transition.