businesses. What is required? Invoices have sets of information, some of which are obligatory and must be included. These mandatory fieldswillbedeterminedbyapplicable tax regulations and local legislation. A large percentage of any given government’s income is received from VAT or sales tax, so legal checks are always in place at invoicing level to ensure the correct tax is paid and received. Other pieces of information are advisory only, but nonetheless useful to either the person sending or receiving the invoice, or both. For a Buyer, if the procurement department sits separately from the finance department, for example, invoices need to reflect what has or hasn’t been approved for purchase. These requirements fall under the term compliance, and it’s worth bearing in mind that there are two levels to be aware of. Firstly, mandatory legal requirements are triggered by where a Supplier is located and these can vary widely. Increasingly, invoices are arriving in different parts of the business, especially where companies operate in multiple locations, which can make managing the invoice process all the more tricky. This is why it’s important proper checks and measures are put in place, to ensure things don’t go awry. In a recent survey by Concur, many admitted that invoices do not always come into the same place in the business. Almost two-thirds of firms with 1,000 to 2,999 employees, and six in ten employing 3,000 or more, acknowledged that this makes enforcing centralised approvals difficult. Key to staying on the right side of the tax authorities, as well as saving costs and combatting fraud, is ensuring processes are transparent. If the invoice processing within a business is sound, early warning systems should Sign on the dotted line Increasingly, businesses are using digital signatures to attest to invoices’ authenticity. So, what is it? A digital signature is an encrypted code that is attached to an electronically transmitted document to verify its contents and the sender's identity. It is a way of ensuring that important information and documentation has not been compromised and is secure, accurate, and up to date. There are three types to be aware of: simple electronic signatures, whichincludescannedsignaturesandtickboxesalongsidedeclarations; advanced electronic signatures, uniquely linked to the signatory and to data within the signature that can detect any changes; and qualified electronic signatures – an advanced electronic signature created by a qualified electronic signature creation device. While it’s usually best to go for the highest level of security available, in some regions local requirements dictate a specific format must be used – see page 6 for a guide. It’s also important to be aware of updates when it comes to technology. For example, EU Regulation No. 910/2014 effective from 1 July 2016 repealed the existing 1999 e-signature framework directive and officially introduced the new term“electronic seal”. Similar to electronic signatures,theseensurethepresumptionofintegrityandcorrectnessof origin of data in documents. Secondly, each business will have their own specific validations. Why is compliance so important? If a company fails to meet legal requirements, it can lead to hefty fines. Take VAT, for example. Depending on which country you’re paying it in, the VAT owed could be as much as 25 per cent of the price of a product or service. This amount is often deducted or reclaimed by businesses, but if invoices are found to be non-compliant they will not be able to rely on these invoices to reclaim tax. This can radically affect a company’s profit margin. INTRODUCTION TO COMPLIANCE • >> On a global scale, each country or region will have its own set of criteria that must be met to ensure taxes are paid and laws are met. Equally, a business will havecertaininformation that it would like to record, which will vary depending on internal processes. 3