Often the most frustrating aspect of running a small to medium business is chasing customers for payments. Online mode of invoicing can make life heaps easier for you while ensuring accuracy and professionalism from your side and faster payments from your customer. So what should you look for when opting for online invoicing software? Here are some best practices:
Cloud-based software: If you haven’t put your business in the cloud, you should get down to it! It simply means using online software for critical functions like accounting, project management, invoicing etc. Online software requires no installation on systems, hence is available on any smart device that can access the internet – laptops, tablets, smartphones. Your data is synced automatically across all devices, and is always secure (even if your laptop crashes or you lose your phone). The best part is that you can update your business while on the go (like sending an invoice on your cab ride home from the client engagement). Cloud-based software often avails the coolest features in business technology today.
Powerful Invoice Customizations: Your online invoicing software should allow you to do a whole range of customizations to support your business requirements. You should be able to access a wide range of templates for the look and feel you want to convey based on your branding. And tweaking that template according to the specifics of a client engagement shouldn’t be too much hassle. For instance, add personal information, set credit limits, and modify according to customer, region, language or currency by substituting labels.
Linked to estimates: Professional service providers like accountants, therapists, lawyers need to be able to come up with fast and accurate estimates to keep their business ticking – the business intelligence generated by proper use of robust business software can help them do that. And once the estimate is generated, it should be an easy online process whereby it is sent to the client for approval/comments. Upon completion of the task, converting an approved estimate into an invoice should be one easy step (no manual copying down of data, no errors or inaccuracies).
Integrated with other business functions: You know which online invoicing software will serve your interests best? An integrated solution that streamlines your business functions. For instance, project management and invoicing tool, Avaza, also manages all the other touchpoints of your engagement terms with a customer, be it timesheeting, expenses or project management. You can invoice for expenses smoothly and charge markups in flexible ways. With the price, tax rate and description of all your inventory items in one system, invoicing becomes as easy as drag and drop. Create tasks that can be linked to a timesheet that feeds into an invoice. A good software should be able to support all these functions in a powerful and robust way.
Payment support gateways: You want to get paid fast, and accurately. Of course the invoicing software you use should allow for multiple ways for you or your customers to get paid fast using payment gateways like PayPal or Stripe for credit card payments. One your customer receives an online invoice, payment should be as easy as clicking ‘Pay Now’.
Tax support: When it’s time to file your tax return, your online invoicing software should make that process easier by applying tax codes to invoiced items as and when they are generated. Your accountant should be able to access the required information easily. If required they should be able to make corrections to rectify any tax anomalies. The supporting documents such as expense receipts should be filed and available just in case the tax department requests further information.
Feel good factor: It won’t hurt to use a software that generates beautiful looking invoices that brings a sense of professionalism and competence to your client engagements. When emailing an invoice to customer, the better online invoicing software out there allows you to customize an existing email template, so your communication is consistent and professional.