Europe soon paperless?

„Europe without paper?“ The online edition of the Huffington Post recently asked this question and gave some examples that prove: Europe will never make it without paper, simply because the use of raw materials belongs to our cultural heritage. Less paper? Yes, that could be something.


Europe-wide digitising initiatives

The article delivers heaps of evidence. For example in Germany, where administrative and branch initiatives, such as „Digital Government 2020,“ the electronic invoice, „Digital Agenda“ and development of the e-government approach, are among the driving forces.


The Post also cites Great Britain, where the health and judicial system will be digitised by 2018, and Poland, which wants to cross the finish line already in 2017 with similar projects. According to the article, France is introducing the pharmaceutical act „Dossier Pharmaceutique“ and at the same time is pushing the initiative „France Numérique 2012“ to digitise the administration. And Italy – with remarkable resources – is pressing ahead with e-invoicing, which was reported here in the EASY Blog earlier this year.


Tempo, Tempo, Tempo

Presumably, several such examples could be found if one were to look more closely at individual European countries. This is hardly surprising; after all, the technological prerequisites have long been available on the software side, even though the hardware side – keyword infrastructure development – still has some way to go almost everywhere in Europe. Accordingly, the EU is active in the field.


Irony of history: to a large extent, administrative departments are trying to eliminate paper. Paper – according to common consensus – was invented by a Chinese official. Around 105 A.D. Cai Lun described the basic production process that still exists today. He was active, for the sake of completeness, in the department of instruments and weapons production at the Chinese imperial court.


Europe very capable of acting

But apart from this historical side note, it can be stated that in times when the theme of Europe is temporarily reduced to the intensified crisis in Greece, it is good to reiterate for a change: Europe doesn’t just regulate the curvature of cucumbers. It also deals with sensible subjects and is advancing the economy and society. This is encouraging for the future.

Sense or nonsense? ECM meets virtual reality

The combination of virtual reality and enterprise content management is currently being tested at the University of Bielefeld. The goal is to optimise information management in companies as well as to better link physically existing and digital documents with information media.


First use cases tested

The first application scenarios are said to be quite close to the market maturity, practicality is making progress, as well as project contributors. For example, it is conceivable to display virtual information about a physical document, while it is being worked on. This is plausible, because hardware continues to develop extremely rapidly.


With „goggles“ in the workplace?

Granted: it is doubtful that virtual reality glasses will soon belong to every physical ECM workplace – and might not really be desirable for purely aesthetic reasons. Who would like to work with high-tech goggles crammed on his nose?


Simulation until you get dizzy

Did you know that some manufacturers of virtual reality glasses „install“ an artificial nose into the viewing area in order to counteract the dizziness that occurs in some simulations or virtual environments? Just a side note, but either way it will take a long time until one whisks Tom Cruise in „Minority Report“ or Robert Downey Jr. in „Iron Man“ onto the digital projection screen through virtual documents and objects. That is – as opposed to diving goggle optics – a much cooler idea.


Beam me up, EASY!

Especially since there are a lot of ergonomic issues and aspects of workplace health to clarify before virtual reality goggles are used. In this respect, in several years one might find the good old reading glasses in workplaces still much more common than virtual reality goggles. Would that be bad? No, enterprise content management will still get along quite well without virtual reality. But to dream a bit of Hollywood, of a bit more glamour in the workplace, is not forbidden. On that note: Beam me up, EASY!

Digitizing: Well scanned is half the battle

More and more companies are saying goodbye to paper by feeding documents into digital workflows and archives. So long as the documents are entered digitally, it’s perfect. However, if they roll in on paper, it takes reasonable hardware and software to provide the digital data contained. The important thing, however, is that even at the beginning the course will be set for the quality of the entire workflow.


Data quality from the very beginning
Reliable processes, clean data transfer interfaces, efficiency – all this depends on two factors that occur at the beginning of the process chain. The scan must have the required quality and the extraction solution has to reliably read the data and send it onto other applications. It is important to implement these early process steps cleanly.


Reduce reworking
Here, there is a very obvious indicator for the interaction of hardware and software: The cost of corrections. It is ideal when employees at scanning work stations take notice of the scanning result and/or the resulting data set and determine if all data have been correctly identified and handed over, perhaps to SAP. The correction effort should be kept within very tight limits.

Centralized or decentralized?
Often companies are also faced with the question whether they should introduce central scanner work stations that capture all incoming documents and feed them into the workflow. Alternative consideration: Installing scanners at the departmental level or on the computers of individual employees. Which is better? The answer is quite simple: It depends on the company, processes, procedures and local conditions. Many times, hybrids are needed where general input and remote scanning are done on central scanning work stations, which are used when needed – whether in the same office or in branch offices. Important in all this is: For all work stations, the quality has to be right and the users must come to uniform results without extensive training.

Consider relationships
Whoever regards scanning and handing over to the workflow as an unimportant or even lapidary activity should reconsider this attitude. Since a chain is only as strong as its weakest link – especially a process chain.

E-invoicing: Italy distributes gifts

Paper invoices are passé – at least in Italy, provided they are going to the public administration. Since over the past few weeks, all domestic suppliers and service providers must send their invoices to the public sector electronically. Thus, after France and Austria, Italy is further country that is following the path of the obligatory electronic invoice.

The fourth largest economy in Europe is thereby implementing EU Directive 2010/45/EU. And it is prematurely exceeding the finish line, because EU Directive 2014/55/​​EU actually specifies that the administration of member states have until 2018 to switch to e-invoicing. Italy expects in return a significant financial and personal relief for administration.


Relief for the private sector

However, all of this does not apply to business transactions between companies or to business transactions amongst companies with consumers. Here the EU does not permit any mandatory state requirements. Nevertheless, in order to push ahead the use of electronic billing, the state is offering incentives.

Italy lures whoever will change to digital invoicing in the future by, among other things, facilitating accounting rules – with exemption from the „Spesometro“ notification obligation, for example. It usually requires electronic reporting of all VAT-relevant transactions. Even businesses with customers who live in tax „risk countries“ no longer need to be reported. Last but not least, Italy promises a quicker VAT refund.


Creative – but effective?

From a German perspective that seems a little odd. In this country it is in principle rather a matter of voluntary commitments. Yet maybe one can indeed learn from Italy. That is, if the country is successful with these measures. Speaking of learning from the example, last year, Portugal held a lottery for taxpayers, and transformed each submitted invoice with a tax number into a lottery ticket for the weekly prize draw. The prize: a luxury car.

Automatisierte Eingangsrechnungsverarabeitung in KMUs

Reduce costs – increase cash flow

Admittedly, the title of this blog article sounds a bit as though it comes from a standard reference of business literature. Somewhat sceptical users may even feel like I wanted to creep up on them here and sell them something … however, a closer look at the issue quickly shows that the automated processing of incoming invoices actually shows a lot of potential for reducing costs and increasing cash flow.


A simple calculation

Many companies invest a lot of time in the still very paper-based processing and checking of incoming invoices. Today, analysts assume that every paper-based invoice costs about Euro 15 and the electronic, automated way can reduce these costs by approximately 80%. So it pays to read on.


Two gateways with savings potential

Reducing costs – how does that work? The biggest savings are mainly to be found in two places in present paper-based process. One place is the inbox where, in addition to open and sort, further steps are necessary in order to prepare documents. The other place with a high potential for savings is in the automatic detection of relevant billing information for later posting. With an average of 150 invoices per day, in both functional areas 6 to 8 hours can be quickly saved – per day, that is!


Increase cash discounts received

In addition to reducing costs, there is a special focus on increasing available funds for many projects. An essential part of the automated processing of incoming invoices in many projects is therefore the use of release scenarios to enable the professional and objective approval of invoices. The aim is to check the document as quickly and transparently as possible and to then prepare payment. This can then easily take place via smartphone or tablet too. Depending on the size of the organization and the decentralized nature of the approval, lead times can be reduced to a few days or hours and the total discount thus increased.


Experience from over 600 projects

In the meantime, we at EASY have implemented 600 projects for optimizing the processing of incoming invoices with our partners. In almost all projects, we were able to work with our customers to achieve the effects described and thus realize ROI already within the first 12 months for our customers. And here we come full circle to my entry: in the automated processing of incoming invoices there is actually a lot of potential for reducing costs and increasing cash flow. It really is an issue that pays off for every company.

Digital Vehicle Act – Essential for Fleet managers and Lessors

A company car is a great thing – but it also causes a great deal of documentation and control effort. This also applies to car rental, car leasing, and not least car sharing, which are increasingly characterizing the appearance of our city centers with their cute compact cars.

What does that have to do with the digital file? A lot, since fleet managers need more air to breathe. They work under great cost pressure and always have the controller on their backs. At the same time, the government wants to have it all well documented and motorists don’t want to miss a single second in the vehicle, to which their position entitles them.


More paperwork than one thinks

Slogan 1 is therefore: Bring on the e-file. For it manages vehicle title, vehicle registration document, MOT certificate, insurance papers, emission sticker, maintenance bills and contracts – thus histories that together would normally fill thick folders and many large filing cabinets fit nicely on a central server and, with the correct solution, are traced within seconds.


Electronic vehicle file: Simply more efficient

Now for slogan 2: More process transparency, since it has long been about more than fleet management. It’s about process optimization. Here, the e-file can automate much in combination with workflow. From storage to reminder notes, so that neither dates for demonstration, transfer, vehicle processing, or even legally compliant archiving is forgotten.
Finally, the e-file creates transparency, makes weaknesses and inefficiencies fully visible and provides a wealth of data so that analyses are possible.
By the way – a marginal remark: Documentation effort is likely to increase again in the coming year. Tolls are coming in any case, if the European Court of Justice does not stop the plans of the German Federal Government at the last moment. But even without tolls: An electronic vehicle file is the right tool. Whether it be a fleet of ten or even a thousand cars

Emails: Private Stays Private

The daily life of a company is unimaginable without email these days. Firms often tolerate male and female employees using their work email address at least to some extent for private mails too. In general companies are not aware of the legal consequences of this.


Consequences of Private Email Use

Jurisprudence is currently based on the fact that an employer who gives an employee an email account is on a par with a telecommunications provider. Thus the same regulations apply to the company. I.e.: the employer is under threat of a penalty as it is forbidden without written consent from the employee to monitor emails – even it is only to ensure holiday cover. It similarly applies if the employee has left the company and urgent information is needed. Forwarding of incoming messages is as inadmissible as is the deletion of the account.


Unclear Legal Bases

The current legal situation is more confusing: Because on the one hand the company is legally bound to archive business post. Emails are business post – as long as they are not private emails. To meet a legally defined retention period emails must be retained and be retrievable. But this conflicts with telecommunications law and data protection law where the employer has very narrow boundaries: even if he selectively archives he should not access these and should distinguish between private and business mails.


Obvious Need for Regulation

Harmonisation of the valid legal bases is thus urgently needed. However employees and employers often agree on the operational requirements of sickness cover, archiving etc. But if you want to play safe, employees can be asked to sign a consent form which clearly states the cases where access to e-mails is allowed – and that archiving them is approved.

Medium-sized companies: Digital transformation requires new organisation

EASY Mittelstand_720

Digitalisation demands changes to processes in every department, regardless of the company size. But what effect does this have on the organisational structures of companies – or on internal communication? Do these also need to be adapted?

The answer is: Yes. A study by the InterSearch Executive Consultants entitled „Digitale Transformation und ihre Auswirkung auf die Führung im Mittelstand” (Digital transformation and its effects on management in medium-sized companies) has discovered that many business leaders see a need for action here. The consultancy surveyed over one hundred decision-makers from companies with over 100 employees.


Data drives decisions…

According to the study, over 80 percent of the decision-makers surveyed think that internal communication will get considerably quicker as a result of digitalisation. 80 percent see knowledge management and know-how as a key success factor for the future. And 75 percent state clearly: IT must be brought closer to other departments. Finally, two thirds are very aware that: In the future, decisions will be driven by one thing above all else: data.


…and data will determine the success

The problem, however: Only a small number of the companies surveyed actually act accordingly. Less than one quarter of companies have a structure that allows production and marketing departments, for example, to work closely with IT. The computer-aided archiving, availability and provision of information and know-how also needs action. Even amongst medium-sized companies in the ITC and finance industries, only 25 percent of companies have a knowledge management system in place. And even the industry that considers innovation, flexibility and speed to be its greatest assets is way behind when it comes to digital transformation.


Companies need solutions – and support

As such, it is now time to move up a gear. Good partners are ready to assist medium-sized companies and to ensure that they can jump on the transformation wagon before it is too late. The required technology for process management, automation and data provision has been available for a long time now. And, just like the EASY ECM Suite, above all, they are scalable, simple and, with the new payment models and availability via the Cloud, they are most certainly helpful for medium-sized companies too.


New solutions for optimizing document intensive processes, shortened support hours, and easier access to the partner network

EASY SOFTWARE AG and SIV.AG are expanding their joint activities in the enterprise content management (ECM) sector. The new direct partnership alliance model makes the entire ECM know-how of EASY SOFTWARE AG from the EASY partner channel immediately available to SIV.AG and its customers. At the same time, the direct link to the solution partner enables short support hours and a targeted customer service. SIV.AG is a leading provider of integrated solutions in the energy and water management sector, with domestic and international operations. It has been successfully active in the market for 25 years.


„The scope of our joint ECM portfolio by far and away exceeds traditional archiving. With our solution portfolio, we open up a new dimension in document and workflow management to all customers of SIV.AG – a portfolio is easily, safely and flexibly scalable, and includes a very wide range of functions. SIV.AG is a reliable strategic partner to us with whom we will successfully meet the future,“ says Carsten Werner, head of Partner Management at EASY SOFTWARE AG.


„Our direct partnership alliance stands for pooling our innovative force and creativity, with a persistent focus on customer benefit,“ comments Mathias Birkholz, Division Manager kVASy® DMS at SIV.AG. He adds: „In this way we will build upon our successes of the record year 2014 and we will increasingly consult our customers in terms of optimizing document intensive processes. For this purpose, we have developed attractive operating models on premise or from the cloud. We expand our solution portfolio with other functional modules such as CONTRACT for contract management,  or the Personnel File, establishing the ECM sector as an integrated solution for our customers.“