Will e-invoicing kill invoice automation solutions?

The new Crea y Crece Law, also known as Law 18/2022, will make it compulsory to use electronic invoicing in transactions between entrepreneurs and self-employed workers in Spain.

With the publication of the regulation still pending (expected by the end of March 2023), everything indicates that a structured XML (eXtensible Markup Language) type file will be used for the exchange of invoices.

As in other countries, it is possible that some exceptions to its mandatory use may be made, for example, in the case of invoices for small amounts, those issued by self-employed workers with a low level of invoicing or those issued by non-profit organisations. But in any case, the vast majority of transactions will use electronic invoicing.

The current predominant scenario, in which PDF and, to a lesser extent, paper is used for the most part, has its days numbered in Spain.

The Future of Invoice Automation Solutions

An important function in invoice automation solutions is OCR recognition, a technology that enables the identification and extraction of characters and text from scanned documents or files, such as PDF.

Much of the investment and time in the implementation of invoice automation solutions is caused by the acquisition and configuration of OCR recognition on incoming invoices.

With the widespread use of electronic invoicing, this need for OCR recognition will be drastically reduced. So, does an automation solution no longer make sense? Not at all.

Data extraction from invoices using OCR technology is only one of the processes that are automated by invoice automation solutions. But there are many more.

To understand the scope of an automation solution, let’s take a look at the following infographic:

As we can see, within the set of processes that are generally automated with this type of solution in a typical implementation, data extraction is only one of the automated tasks.

How does e-invoicing benefit Automation solutions?

The widespread use of an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) file, instead of OCR to extract data from invoices, will bring the following advantages:

  1. Increased accuracy and reliability of data extraction: Data in an XML file is clearly structured and tagged, allowing for more accurate and reliable data extraction compared to OCR, which often has difficulty recognising misspelled or illegible characters.
  1. Higher % of automation: The use of an XML will allow for more accurate data extraction, increasing the % of invoices that will be processed automatically, without human intervention.
  1. Cost Reduction: The use of XML avoids the need for OCR recognition technologies, which represent a significant % of the unit cost per invoice processed.
  1. Increased security: XML files can be digitally signed to ensure data integrity and authenticity, which is not possible with OCR.
  1. Reduction of implementation times: Part of the time spent on automation solution implementations is dedicated to training OCR recognition systems. This is no longer necessary.

In summary, using an XML file to extract data from an invoice offers greater accuracy, automation, flexibility and security compared to using OCR. This allows for more efficient, reliable and secure processing of electronic invoices. For more information on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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