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Going Green with SAP EDI and Electronic Invoicing

Many companies including SAP now have executives that are responsible for helping the company go green and to lead sustainability efforts. Here is an excerpt from a recent SAP announcement.

SAP named Peter Graf its first chief sustainability officer Monday. He’ll oversee development of so-called sustainable software for customers, as well as lead the vendor’s own ambitious sustainability efforts….SAP has pledged to cut its carbon footprint in half (currently 513,000t CO2) by 2020. Among other things, the company will focus on virtualization in the data center, and cut back on business travel.

EDI, B2B and e-Invoicing are also three very obvious ways of supporting these sustainability initiatives. Many companies could not only reduce costs, but also reduce huge quantities of paper by converting outbound and inbound invoices to electronic invoices.

Medium to large size suppliers are often willing to support these initiatives by accepting EDI purchase orders and sending back EDI or B2B electronic invoices. Smaller suppliers will often be willing to receive purchase orders via email and to use a Supplier Self Service portal to submit invoices.

All of these activities have a benefit for the business and the green/sustainability initiatives. Let’s take a look at each:

  • Outbound electronic invoices – reduce DSO with real-time e-invoicing via EDI, B2B or email. Also, save on paper, envelopes, stamps, printing and processing time.
  • Inbound electronic invoices – process and approve inbound electronic invoices (EDI or B2B) quickly and take advantage of early payment discounts from suppliers for better Financial Supply Chain management. Save on paper storage and archiving, save on paper processing in the mail room, save on OCR and scanning activities, etc.
  • Replace potentially hundreds of other business processes that are paper based with automated data exchanges using EDI and B2B. Data can begin to be used and analyzed in real time as data previously printed and stored only on paper begins to flow electronically and is subject to analysis and management by business analytic software applications that provide management visibility.

Going green and supporting sustainability initiatives can mean a lot of things, however, a very obvious move that can offer cost savings, sustainability and business value is converting from paper exchanges to electronic data exchanges. This does not need to cost a lot of money or be complex. Recently SAP has invested in and become a co-owner of an e-Invoicing, EDI and B2B exchange for this purpose. This is an SAP-centric exchange that utilizes NetWeaver PI offering an on-demand e-Invoicing, EDI and B2B managed service for SAP users.

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