You may still be using paper invoices and doing so for various reasons. Perhaps you're unsure of the viability of electronic invoicing? Or maybe you don't trust cyberspace? It may be that you're intimidated by the changeover or feel that it will take too much time and effort? The fact is paperless invoicing is easy, convenient and inexpensive. However of the 18 billion invoices generated each year in Europe most are submitted on paper.

One problem for EU member nations has been incorporating Value Added Tax (VAT) rates into an e-invoice that crosses national borders. If you're trading within the UK, this is not a problem, but when conducting business outside native environments, electronic invoices can be problematic. Over the past few years, after the EU issued the 'E-Invoice Directive' (known as Directive 2001/115/EC) in January 2004, member nations have worked to alleviate this problem.

However, with legislation varying from country to country there are still difficulties in making e-invoices VAT compliant. All invoices must be VAT compliant as per the laws of the land of supply. Despite these challenges on the import/export front, you can still readily cut down on paperwork by submitting e-invoices within the UK.

With electronic invoices, it's estimated that a company can save 80% of the cost associated with paper billing. Additionally, those companies purchasing products are able to save money by paying via the net, eliminating late fees and saving money on postage, stationery and envelopes. Labor costs are lessened on both sides of the exchange.

One problem you may face has to do with a lack of standardization in this process, whether dealing within the UK or outside of its boundaries. There are numerous paradigms that are available to businesses, including those that start with the purchaser and those that are initiated by the supplier. In order to use an e-invoice system, you'll need to determine what type structure best meets your billing needs.

Whether your operation is small, medium or large, there will be a period of training and adjustment. No matter how simple the system, you'll find that employees will be confused at times. This is especially true if your former system has been used for a long period of time. Also, even in this cyber-age, many of us find solace in having paper, something tactile, in our hands.

Whatever electronic invoicing method or service you elect to utilize, make sure that there is a sound system of back-ups in place. The fear that information might be lost is perhaps one of the biggest reasons for people clinging to the paper invoice. However, paper can be lost too, and unlike electronically generated bills once misplaced or thrown out, they are difficult to recreate. Paper invoices also take up a lot of room that can be used for office, storage or sales space.

The results include virtually effortless billing, payments that are timely, and an invoicing process that is easy to track. Save yourself time, effort and money and re-invest all three to expand your business.