Tungsten Insights – Thinking Through Global Compliance vs. Global E-Invoicing

At Tungsten Insights 2015, the provider’s customer conference, I’ve had some great banter the past 2 days with members of the Tungsten team on the concept of global enablement in the e-invoicing market. It’s my personal perspective – I don’t speak for the broader Spend Matters team here – that the global market is still largely untapped, and e-invoicing generally still pales in penetration compared to direct materials EDI-centric capabilities. At this point, to call someone a clear leader would be as wrong in this market as it is to call Ariba the leader in e-procurement – which it is no longer (there is not one single leader here, either).

However, Tungsten takes a slightly different perspective when it comes to thinking through global leadership. It suggests it is important to look at global compliance vs. just global e-invoicing – and that here, Tungsten is the leader. Tungsten also makes a convincing case for the level of individual country compliance it has focused on developing to date, but we’re not ready to proclaim in the leader in this area yet. In comparison, other providers have largely partnered with TrustWeaver and outsourced aspects of compliance to a third-party.

Here are some of the components of Tungsten’s argument:

  • Electronic invoice data transfer is fundamentally different than compliant invoicing – both intra- and inter-country
  • Claiming compliance versus actually being compliant is a different thing on a country-by-country basis
  • Localized compliance for non-cross border trade can be massively complex from a taxation and broader compliance perspective. India is a quintessential example here (a country Tungsten has put thousands of hours into from a localized compliance standpoint across India’s 60 some state-level tax authorities)
  • PWC has signed off on Tungsten’s compliance activities in local countries with local PWC representation
  • Compliance must stand up to local tax authority audits – and Tungsten claims significant experience in handling these with clients

Further, here is what Tungsten suggests that e-invoicing providers should all bring from a “glocalized” compliance perspective (note – these are direct quotes from Tungsten – we’re not endorsing them, just reporting them):

  • Detailed understanding of local requirements
  • Rules-based implementation and processing
  • ISAE/SAS/ISO certification
  • Mature data protection measures and documentation
  • Reliable monitoring of processes
  • Extensive mapping capabilities (e.g. VAT codes, formats, etc.)
  • Support for all official requirements (e.g. notification letters, process documentation, etc.)
  • Guarantee for ongoing maintenance support for changes of compliance requirements

Tungsten also argues that companies considering e-invoicing providers on a global basis should ask themselves the question: What level of contractual responsibility do they want to take for regional compliance? Perhaps this should be a test by which companies compare e-invoicing networks from a regional compliance basis in selection processes.

Ultimately, it seems to me what Tungsten is arguing is companies should treat country onboarding as significantly as individual supplier onboarding – and that the 2 are just as vitally important.

What do you think?

Finally, the Spend Matters P2P team will increasingly dig into the issue of global compliance in the coming months on Spend Matters PRO. Stay tuned. If you have specific questions you would like answered, please get in touch.

PS: You can also see my recent coverage from the past 2 days below.

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