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Sending Invoices Electronically: Make the Switch with Your Own Tools

Would you like to send all your invoices electronically – or at least a large part of them? We show you how you can be clever and make the change to sending your invoices electronically – regardless if your invoicing program has an  email function or not. Even just using Word or Excel will let you enjoy the benefits of e-invoicing.

Using an Invoicing Program with Integrated Email Function

Let’s start with the ideal situation: Your accounting department already works with an invoice program which has a built-in email function. In order to send electronic invoices, you need to once perform the following three steps: edit the customer base information, set up the accompanying email, and determine the electronic archiving process. Then, the person in charge just needs to kick off the respective invoice runs.

1. Edit the customer base information: Enter in your CRM or customer database for each client if they should receive the invoices as paper or electronic documents. In principal, each customer needs to explicitly accept the receipt of electronic invoices. However, by paying an electronic invoice, the customer implicitly accepts the electronic format. For customers who shall be invoiced electronically in the future, you also need to enter an email address of the person who shall receive the invoice.

2. Set up accompanying email: As part of your invoice output, you set up a subject and text for the email with which the electronic invoice will be sent in the future.

3. Electronic storage: You save your invoices in your DocuWare system with two different options...

- Invoices which are sent in paper format are printed as PDF via DocuWare Printer. DocuWare Printer reads index criteria, such as a customer name and invoice date, directly from the PDF and archives the document automatically. The invoice is also printed automatically to a physical printer so the paper version can be mailed.
- Invoices which are sent by email can be stored with one of the DocuWare integration modules. Connect to Outlook for Outlook and Exchange environments and Connect to Mail for all other all common mail systems. With these you set up that your outgoing mail box is filtered and all emails which are sent as invoices are filed in the same structured way as paper versions. It is very easy to recognize an electronic invoice in the DocuWare file cabinet. It is a good idea to archive the accompanying email with the actual electronic invoice. This makes it easy to prove which invoice was sent to which receiver – this information is typically not in the invoice itself.

Alternatively, you can use the electronic filing options of your ERP or invoicing program in case this funcationality is available.

Kick off invoice run: Once your accounting department now writes an invoice the invoicing program selects if an electronic or paper invoice is sent depending on the customer database entries. The person in charge enters the invoice information or kicks off the invoice run. Then the invoices are sent per email to the customers or they are printed on paper and then mailed per postal mail.

Using an Invoicing Program without Email Function (or with Word/Excel)

What to do if your invoicing program has not have an email function or – if you work for a smaller company – the invoice creation is done via Word or Excel? In these cases you create your invoices as usual using the print function. You then can decide case-by-case if the customer should receive the invoice electronically or on paper. The process for paper invoices is the same as desribed above.

For sending electronic invoices you can use DocuWare and DocuWare Printer.  You can set it up in a way that the invoice from the invoicing program or from Word/Excel are sent by email. Within DocuWare Printer, you define once what the accompanying email will look like and you can also define that an email invoice should only be sent if an email is found at a specific location in the invoice.

At the moment you start to print, DocuWare Printer makes sure that your email program opens. The invoice is inserted as an email attachment and the accompanying email text is part of the email body. At the same time, the receiver‘s email address has been entered in the mail program client if the email address is part of the invoice content.

In this way electronic invoices can be sent with DocuWare Printer from programs which do not have a built-in email function. The invoices can be archived the same way as described above.