More and more companies doing business (or planning to do business) in Latin America are realizing that electronic invoicing is not an option, it is a critical part of the end to end business process in the region. eInvoicing is such a mission critical process that when it does not work, everything…and I do mean everything…. stops. The requirements continue to get more complex, including more transaction types, greater integration needs and higher penalties for non-compliance. It is important, as your organization evaluates solutions, to ask the right questions. Don’t assume everyone with Nota Fiscal on their website is capable of delivering a successful project. There is one thing that is positively true: eInvoicing in Latin America is nothing like eInvoicing in Europe or North America.
The purpose of electronic invoicing in Latin America is to help the Government reduce leaks in their tax system. This is the basis for mandates in the region. Again, completely different than the US and Europe. The good news is that there are substantial benefits companies can now realize because of these requirements. I will be writing more about these benefits in the coming weeks.
But as your company looks to comply with the constantly changing legislation in Latin America, there are some key areas that you should focus on in your conversations as the requirements are process oriented:
- A major part of the implementation is behind your firewall. How will your solution provider help you behind your firewall and shield you from having to make large changes to your internal systems?
- How can you insure that your trucks can leave the warehouse on time — Latin America eInvoicing is not about applying a digital signature, it is about real-time web service processes to multiple government agencies, each with potentially unique requirements. It also requires internal print management of approved documents. If this process fails, then you are left with trucks lining up at the warehouse and customer complaints or worse — lost orders. Make sure your solution can still allow you to ship goods even when the network is down or the government agency is non-responsive or slow.
- Support has been the most asked question I get in my customer management meetings. Here is an absolute requirement – you need local language support and staff that speak Portuguese and Spanish as well as a global team that speaks English and understands your ERP system. This same staff needs to be responsible for keeping your solution current with the changing requirements and proactively notifying you about these changes.
- Diagnosing the error – Do you know who is responsible for supporting the different parts of the solution? We are seeing proposed solutions that include up to 6 different solutions under the covers, from 6 different vendors. If you don’t fully understand what you are buying, you could find yourself on a call with your solution provider stating that it is your issue as the XML was passed through the firewall and their support stops at a “Service Transfer Point”.
Over the next few weeks, I will be covering updates on the changes to requirements in 2013. Key point – in Latin America you need one vendor who provides, understands and supports all of the complete end to end processes. Welcome to the complex puzzle called “Latin America eInvoicing”.