Digitalised invoicing processes for more efficiency and less paper consumption. Manual invoicing is not only time-consuming for customers and companies, but also has a devastating impact on the environment due to paper waste. In 2018, Germany’s per capita consumption of paper and cardboard was higher than in any other G-20 country.
HHLA continuously reviews and optimises processes and procedures, and launched a project to digitalise and standardise invoicing processes for shipowners. The conversion to SAP-SD, a modern standard software for the billing of services rendered, is the biggest, most wide-ranging step.
Staff at the HHLA container terminals in Hamburg and shipping customers contributed to the digitalisation process in important ways. Through cooperative and constructive collaboration with shipowners, the conversion took place well ahead of schedule.
While more than 340,000 pages of invoice paper were still printed and sent at HHLA in 2018, this figure was only around 20,000 in 2021, with a further downward trend. In the course of 2024, no more paper printouts should be necessary and the digital conversion should be successfully completed.
Positive effects are already being seen in practice. In total, more than four tonnes of carbon emissions can be saved annually by digitalising the process. In addition, between July 2020 and December 2021, 95 percent of outgoing invoices were digitalised and more than 2.5 million container and marine events were processed. 85 percent of revenue is billed via the new digitalised invoicing system. With a processing error rate in the one-tenth of a percent range, the measure also means greater customer satisfaction and retention, as well as transparency.
Extensive digitalisation forms the basis for greater efficiency in the future. HHLA also minimises analogue processes outside of accounting, i.e. printouts on paper, distribution by in-house mail, manual signatures or the release of payments will also be implemented digitally in the future. HHLA has already taken the next step in collaboration with several major shipping companies: the direct exchange of EDI data records via electronic invoicing.