The COVID-19 era has been marked by strain, stress, and loss. Yet it’s also been a change catalyst for the way businesses and governments work, pushing them to accelerate innovation and digital transformation with the use of automation technology.
This leap into a bold new era is behind Australia’s JobMaker Digital Business Plan, an initiative intended to continue the digital push ignited by the pandemic era and to expand opportunities for businesses to grow and create more Australian jobs. Among other objectives, the JobMaker plan includes a regulation requiring government agencies and private companies to transition to electronic invoicing by July 1, 2022.
An Overview of Australia’s JobMaker Plan
The Australian Government introduced its $74 billion JobMaker Plan in mid-2020 along with its Federal Budget. The plan has been designed to fuel job and business growth and support the country’s economic recovery. In brief, it includes six key elements:
- Tax cuts. Reductions in personal income taxes and an increase in the instant asset write-off threshold for businesses are intended to generate increased spending as well as the creation of as many as 100,000 new jobs by the end of 2022.
- Infrastructure investment. Investing an additional $14 billion in new and fast-tracked infrastructure projects over the next four years will create jobs and stimulate economic growth.
- Employment incentives. The new JobMaker Hiring Credit incentivizes employers with weekly credits for each new job they create.
- Education support. Investments in higher education include expanded short courses for learning and training as well as expanded enrollment in university programs to increase the number of Australians who earn degrees. A $1 billion JobTrainer Fund will advance retraining and upskilling for Australian workers.
- Industry booster. The plan’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy is designed to strengthen Australia’s manufacturing sector for economic growth and more competitive international trade.
- Energy efficiency. The plan includes investment in new energy technologies to reduce emissions and expand access to reliable affordable energy for businesses and residences.
Digital transformation is a foundational element of the JobMaker Plan. To this end, the plan mandates a transition to electronic invoicing for government agencies and private companies, and the government has allocated $3.6 million toward this mandated e-invoicing transition for all Commonwealth agencies by July 2022.
In introducing the JobMaker Plan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison underscored its goal to drive digital transformation. "We must enable our businesses to earn Australia's way out of this crisis. And that means focusing on the things that can make their businesses go faster," he said in a 2020 address to the National Press Club (Source: ABC).
Why E-Invoicing and Automation Matters
The JobMaker Plan’s e-invoicing mandate is intended to improve productivity and reduce business operating costs, ultimately helping businesses to move faster, as Prime Minister Morrison suggested. Transitioning to e-invoicing fosters a single, interoperable digital market based on the adoption of a common billing system.
PEPPOL, or the Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line, is a payment framework developed in Europe to facilitate the pay-to-purchase process. The shift to e-invoicing is actually an acceleration of an already established trend as since 2019, Australian businesses and public institutions have been able to voluntarily issue e-invoices in both Australia and New Zealand using PEPPOL.
Why does the transition to e-invoicing and enterprise automation benefit Australia and its businesses? It comes down to three main drivers.
1. Health and Safety
Automation improves health and safety. As with many other industrialized nations, Australia has seen an increase in its remote workforce. In addition, consumer preferences in many industries are shifting toward safety, especially considering rising cybersecurity threats and data breaches.
As consumers prioritize convenience, reliability, and transparency across all sectors, governments and private businesses alike are looking to build trust and better meet these evolving needs. Automation tools such as e-invoicing have a proven track record of enabling and empowering a remote workforce, increasing transparency and communication while simultaneously fulfilling health and safety objectives.
2. Operational Efficiency
Automated invoice processing boosts operational efficiency by helping businesses respond faster to changes both big and small. E-invoicing reduces the time employees spend on routine tasks and decreases or eliminates human error, which can be costly in both time and money. Replacing paper invoices with digital invoice management also shortens payment delivery times, which can improve cash flow.
Together, greater efficiency and increased productivity can help government agencies and businesses optimize resources and realize cost savings, which can be reinvested into innovation and growth. This is where enterprise automation software can help ensure a smooth transition to a new digital workflow that unlocks all these benefits.
3. Cost Reduction
Automation and e-invoicing can also massively reduce costs, helping organizations avoid late fees and allowing them to do more without increasing headcount. Shifting to e-invoicing also reduces paper-based waste, boosting the bottom line while also decreasing the environmental footprint in line with many of Australia’s government-led green initiatives.
Overall, the goal is to strengthen Australia’s competitive edge within the global marketplace by increasing productivity and improving security and trust with international trading partners.
A look at global government automation trends
Australia is not alone in investing in accounts payable automation or the larger goal of digital transformation with the government as a driving force. According to a recent survey, national governments have increased IT spending by an average of 15 percent, recognizing the importance of technological transformation in economic growth and the delivery of public services (Source: 2020 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey). Where once governments invested heavily in physical infrastructure, many leaders now recognize the urgency of investment in digital infrastructure and its continuing modernization.
Cybersecurity, too, is a driving force, as evidenced by the increase in attack frequency and target profile throughout the pandemic. Data breaches can cost a company millions and according to recent research, cybersecurity attacks have increased fivefold during COVID-19 and are estimated to cost $6 trillion globally in 2021 (Source: Journal of Medical Internet Research).
Considering the transformation imperative and the cybersecurity threat, automated systems are proving effective at reducing costs and increasing organizations’ operational efficiency. These improvements reap dividends when responding to a crisis like the pandemic and other systemic shocks, as well as helps with more ordinary challenges like budget deficits and workplace disruptions.
Additionally, automation will remain integral as long as remote work remains the trend… and thus far it has not only become the current normal but has proven highly effective. Digital solutions like DocuPhase can enable government agencies to continue working in a hybrid model or fully remotely, as well as streamline work with all government contractors, subcontractors, and vendors in a remote environment.
Meeting the future head-on
While the world will eventually stabilize into the next normal, a digital-first mode of operating is certainly here to stay. Even as the mandate for e-invoicing goes into effect next July, the push toward automation will continue.
This will undoubtedly have numerous industry effects. Among them will be increased scrutiny on government contracts with an eye to security and transparency—both of which will be better enabled by automation. In addition, increased adoption of e-invoicing and other automated processes will bring greater awareness to the business benefits such transformations unlock.
This makes sense, as the broader goal is to propel continued economic recovery and a leap into a truly 21st-century (and beyond) mode of working. Moreover, it’s important to realize that government sits at the center of a world grappling with data use and data protection.
Data and digital-first represent the future, but governments must balance the push to innovate with the necessity to maximize efficiency and safeguard trust. With the volume of data perpetually increasing, governments must make a successful leap forward into this bold new era—and it’s possible with the right tools in place.
A leader in Enterprise Automation software, DocuPhase delivers end-to-end accounting automation, document management, workflow automation, and capture tools designed to help your enterprise stay organized and meet evolving technology and business needs.