Adoption of e-invoicing by SMEs: the business document standards aspect
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Nowadays, more and more organizations send their invoices electronically. Despite the fact that the potential benefits are irrelevant to the size of the company which applies the technology, e-invoicing has managed to appeal the interest of mainly the larger organizations, leaving the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) at an early stage of adoption. The vast majority of the invoice volume in SMEs continues to be published on paper, whereas the digitization of the process merely involves the exchange of files as attachments of e-mail messages in most of the cases. Thanks to various standardization approaches, innovative, simpler and more affordable methods of applying e-invoicing have been introduced. However, SMEs are still reluctant in proceeding into a totally automated, full scale application of the technology due to, among other reasons, the multitude of different standards which are currently in use. Companies are now facing the following dilemma: which business document standard is most suitable for them, and which of the available should be supported at the same time? The purpose of the present study is to provide a better understanding on how can business document standards be evaluated and utilized by SMEs during the adoption of e-invoicing. After assessing the importance of customizability and extensibility for the interoperability of standardization, we develop an evaluation framework that classifies standards accord-ing to their support on these two characteristics. We also construct a simple, step-by-step method that guides the evaluation of standards in a given organizational setting. Finally, we formulate a number of recommendations in order to consult SMEs about the utilization of standards in their e-invoicing plans. After scrutinizing some of the most prominent business document standards, our first findings shed light on how they handle customizability and extensibility, and, as a con-sequence, reveal which of them are most suitable for SMEs. We proceed in the conduc-tion of interviews with experts with the intention to validate the initial evaluation method and recommendations. The results, lastly, indicate which sub-characteristics of customizability and extensibility are crucial for the e-invoicing adoption venture of SMEs.