What are e-invoices and why should one use them?
Sending e-invoices and roaming.
Receiving e-invoices.
Implementing e-invoices and onboarding partners.

What is an e-invoice?

A true e-invoice is a machine readable invoice that is issued, transferred, processed and kept electronically. E-invoice travels from the sender's ERP to buyers ERP automatically, without human intervention or double data entry.
PDF invoice sent via e-mail is not an e-invoice.

Why e-invoices?

  • Use of paper and/or PDF invoices is costly as processing takes a lot of time and effort.
  • Machine readable e-invoices help to save costs by reducing manual work and processing time. Use of e-invoices significantly improves data quality and prevents mistakes.

Sending e-invoices

How to create e-invoices?

Majority of ERP's (Enterprise Resource Planning software) are able to generate e-invoices. If your ERP lacks this ability, it is possible to easily outsource the service from specialized providers.

How do the e-invoices reach customers?

E-invoices can be sent via e-invoicing operators - currently, in Estonia there are five operators Telema, Fitek, Omniva, EdiSoft and E-arveldaja.

The choice of the operator depends on the volume and issuing frequency of e-invoices.
If the monthly volume is high (more than 50 invoices) and the invoices are distributed in a constant flow, Telema eInvoicing service is the most suitable one.

Micro enterprises and small companies only distributing a few invoices a month, will find good service packages from Fitek, Omniva or E-arveldaja. Some operators provide also the invoice distribution service: invoice issuer forwards all monthly invoices to the service provider who then distributes the invoices according to the recipients' wishes (as e-invoices, PDF via e-mail or on paper). 

Roaming of  e-invoices

E-invoicing operators also provide roaming. It means that clients of one operator can send e-invoices to customers using the services of another operator. There is no need to sign multiple agreements. Besides, sending and receiving e-invoices via roaming does not cost more than using the same services within one operator's newtork. More about roaming.

Receiving e-invoices

E-invoicing operators enable also receiving of e-invoices. Operators will organize the transfer of e-invoices to the right destination, but the exact destination needs to be set by the receiver. 
Private persons and small enterprises can receive the e-invoices via banks, for example. Medium sized companies, that use financial software, and purchase invoices processing involves more than one person, might consider automation of invoice management. 

  • If your ERP enables electronic cost allocation and approval (i.e. Directo), you can manage and archive purchase invoices directly in the software.
  • In case your ERP does not solve the issue, you can choose from the electronic cost allocation and approcal services provided by the e-invoicing operators (i.e. Telema eFlow). The invoice management will then be automated in a specific electronic web-environment.

NB! We advise to choose the automated solution that allows to process not only e-invoices, but also PDF invoices. 

Implementing e-invoices

Implementing e-invoices is not only an IT project. E-invoicing changes several processes and business rules both internally and in partner relations. When starting the implementation project, it is important to keep in mind the following:
  • secure top management's full attention and support
  • appoint one very active "project owner"
  • set a three-year strategy and roll it out step by step (successful pilot project boosts confidence)
  • plan carefully and execute well both, internal and external communication
  • take into account your partners' IT capability to send, receive and archive e-invoices -- it is generally lower that expected
  • do not reinvent the wheel i.e. do not waste resources on developing the solutions other are already using
  • make sure to use a valid partner onboarding strategy.

Onboarding partners

is one of the key issues in the whole e-invoicing project. This finally determines the success and therefore it is vital not to underestimate the topic. The most common strategies to choose from are:
  1. Opt-In
    The company adopts e-invoicing and lets its partners know of the new process. All partners have the opportunity to negotiate on terms and conditions - if and when to start e-invoicing. The initiator usually put a lot of effort into explaining and offers rewards. So called "carrot" method.
  2. Opt-Out
    The company adopts e-invoicing. Partners are notified to start e-invoicing with a concrete deadline. If partners choose not to use e-invoices after the set deadline, there are penalties for processing paper or PDF invoices. So called "stick" method.