A clearly laid out invoice can help your company save a lot of time. You are far more likely to get money paid into the right account at the time agreed by your company and its customers if your invoices are easy to read.
The information that Bankgiro is able to provide about payments received is also better. This means that the company does not need to spend lots of time sending out payment reminders and interest invoices. The work can be made even more efficient by obtaining and sending payment information electronically.
The company is spared the manual paperwork and the risk of mistakes is minimised. The company can save a lot of time on ledger and bookkeeping work.
We have been considering what you and your customers should think about in designing an invoice correctly.
It should be easy for the recipient to read the invoice and to make the payment correctly.
Mark important information
Put a box around the information on the invoice that is most important. This makes it easier for the payer to give the right identification when paying - i.e. the information you wish to have back so as to be able to match and check off the invoice. We recommend that you mark the invoice number in a particularly bold and eye-catching way (see example). This has become ever more important as the number of payments made via the banks' internet services has increased.
Advice and instructions
The reference term is the key to being able to identify the payment and check it off in the customer ledger, the software of which is to match the payment. This reference term is also called a reference number or invoice number. Bankgirot has prepared advice and instructions for the design and location of the reference/invoice number.
- Give the invoice number as reference number on the payment slip.
If you include a preprinted payment slip with the invoice ( regardless if this is an OCR or a "normal" payment slip), the reference number on the slip should be the same as the invoice number. If you use different terms, there is a risk that the payer will choose to record the "wrong" one, with the result that in some cases it is not possible to match and check off the invoice automatically.
You can see examples of a correctly laid out bankgiro invoice with OCR and a correctly laid out bankgiro invoice on the right.
Give the invoice number clearly
Always locate the invoice or reference number in the top right hand corner of the invoice, and indicate clearly that this is the term that your customer should use when making payment (see example). If you use Bankgiro Receivables, the reference term must be printed on the slip in the code row. If your customer makes payment through his or her bank's internet service or via Supplier Payments, this is exactly the term that you wish your customer to register. Also instruct your customers that if they print out their own payment slips, they should give the invoice number in the top left of the message field of their slips. That is so as to increase the probability of Bankgirot "finding" the invoice number on the payment slip.
- Use short invoice numbers
The fewer characters you use in your invoice numbers, the less risk there is of your customers entering the number incorrectly. Some payers use software that cannot handle invoice numbers with more than nine characters. If your invoice number is longer, it will be shortened, with the consequence that your search programme might not find it when matching against the customer ledger.
Do not start your invoice number with zeros
It has proved to be hard to predict how payers handle initial zeros in invoice numbers; some customers register them, others do not. This means that the length of the invoice number may differ from the original, which means that the search programme for matching against the customer ledger cannot find the invoice number.
Do not use dashes or spaces in the invoice number
For the same reason as not starting your invoice numbers with zeros, neither should they include dashes or spaces.
Use check digits in invoice numbers
A check digit on the 10 module (similar to the last digit in a personal ID number for example) is used to make it easier to discover incorrect registration. Use a check digit in the invoice number, if your system can handle this. This means better matching results, because the invoice number can be checked throughout the payment chain. Note that in Bankgiro Receivables, a check digit in the invoice/reference number is mandatory.
If the payer uses its own payment slips
If you choose not to include a payment slip in your invoices, or if the payer chooses to print its own payment slips for some other reason, it is important to give the payer instructions that the invoice number must be entered in the top left of the message field on the payment slip.
Use OCR payment slips without an amount filled in if needed
Certain payers need to pay an amount that is different from that filled in on the OCR slip by the issuer of the invoice. In this case the payer will use a different payment slip and fill in the amount himself. If you invoice these payers with OCR slips without an amount filled in, the payments will be reported in the OCR file.
Invoice often enough
If the interval between invoices is too great, there is a risk that the payer will lose the OCR slip that has been sent. If the payer cannot find the payment slip at the time of making payment, he or she will use another payment slip and the payment will not be reported in the OCR file.
Boxing in the invoice number in the way shown in the illustration has been determined by the SIS (the Swedish Standards Institute) in the new standard for Swedish invoices.
This boxing in and the instructions given in the standard for formulating invoice numbers have been produced in collaboration between Bankgirot and PlusGirot in the General Standardisation Group - an administratory body within the SIS. The name of the standard document is SS 61 41 14 Handelsdokument - Blankett för anbudsförfrågan, anbud, beställning och faktura med och utan inbetalningskort (business document - form for tender enquiries, tenders, orders and invoices with and without payment cards).
Visit the SIS website www.sis.se.