In college we had a joke. When there was a lull in the conversation someone would say “So, when do you think we are going metric?” After all, as children of the 70s, we had all been forced to learn decagrams and hectometers in preparation for the United States going metric. We’re still waiting. The United States is the only country in the world that has not adopted the metric system.
However, the paperless office is becoming more and more of a reality. As a witness to monumental technological innovations in the last half century (well, almost), every once in a while I have an “aha moment” when I realize we have just made a leap forward. As an early adapter and Internet pioneer, I see these moments often having business consequences. There was the moment when a client asked us to help them get placed higher on search engines – Aha, SEO; there was the moment when we no longer created websites from scratch – Aha, CMS; there was the moment when browsers actually started supporting the W3C CSS Standards – aha, stylesheets; and the moment after Christmas 2011 when the number of mobile devices and tablets skyrocketed (After Christmas 2011 nearly 20% of American adults owned a tablet. Two years later that figure climbed to almost 50%) – Aha, all our websites must use responsive design.
Today was one of those moments – aha, We’re going paperless.
Last month, our company changed to a digital system for invoicing. Now all our receipts are created using software with a digital signature and authorized by the Israeli Income Tax Authority. There is a record in the cloud and our bookkeeper can download reports (or have them emailed) to import into bookkeeping software. The system we chose (there are several), http://www.greeninvoice.co.il, is not perfect and they are continually developing and improving it. I have to say that their support is amazing – I send an email in English and receive a reply (in Hebrew) usually within 5 minutes. We were able to have them import our client list and product catalog and were up and running in a few days. (The system also handles price proposals, pro forma invoices, packing slips and more.)
However, that was only the background which lead up to today’s aha moment.
Last week, our bookkeeper sent me a list of charges for which they had no tax receipt. There were five Bezeq (phone company) bills, bills from domain registrars, kvish 6 (toll road) and others.
After a short series of phone calls, I had copies of all the missing invoices in my inbox.
Click, click and my bookkeeper had them as well.
H O W E V E R
The Israeli government does not accept these digital copies of invoices from the phone company or other suppliers. My bookkeeper has to print them out. How ridiculous is that?!
The Israeli government is causing a huge expense in terms of financial, time and environmental costs by requiring that receipts be printed out.
I hope that this will be rectified soon. Accountants are already allowed to file digital tax returns in Israel. However, they must also file paper returns as a backup.
The bureaucracy and political climate in Israel has caused many delays in Israeli progress – the delay of high speed internet until the then government-owned phone company could compete with the privately held cable network – is one glaring example.
Let’s hope that the efficiency which Israeli businesses are discovering filters down to the legislators, bureaucrats and technocrats who set the policy by which we work. This will save us money, time and help the environment. It may even make life in Israel just a little bit easier. After all, we already are using the metric system.
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