Invoicing can be fast and easy !

One of the most important forms of business documentation is the invoice, which the seller issues to the buyer to provide details of a good or service the seller has provided.

Sometimes the invoicing process might be a bit tricky and time consuming.

Abak has the solution. Speed up your process and avoid mistakes.
Register for our Abakast on Basic Invoicing

Thursday, October 25th
1h30 – 3h30pm, Eastern Time

Get acquainted with the basics of invoicing: from the time sheet to a finished invoice in just a few minutes.

  • Time and expenses billing
  • Fixed fee billing
  • Manual transactions

Only 99$

Register Now!

Do you like working for free?

free to use image- vintage toy cash register

In the professional services world, working for free is like giving away our product. Just like retailers try to avoid giving away products, consulting professionals want to avoid under-billing clients.

Under-billing happens when we forget to record billable time for a client. If it’s not recorded, it cannot get billed. And if time is not billed, then we’re working for free. The trouble is: we still have to pay the salary for team members who are doing non-billed work for clients.

How does that happen? The monthly time sheet is one source of the problem. Since most consulting projects are billed – or at least accounted for – on a monthly basis, employees are asked to provide their time sheets once a month. In too many organizations, time sheets are Excel spreadsheets filled out at the end of the month. Who remembers what they worked on three weeks ago?

While it may be perceived as more time-consuming, filling out our time sheets daily or weekly is profitable in the long term: the records are more accurate, less billable time is forgotten and invoicing increases.

With Abak as the time sheet and billing system, the connection between billable time and billed time is made automatically: there is no need to re-enter information and no risk of data entry error at invoicing time.

Are you billing it right the first time?

Invoice for Martin M while at school, England 1846

Especially in professional services, billing can get a little complicated: each client wants a different level of detail, team members enter their own time and notes on their timesheets, and we are all human.

When mistakes on invoices make it to the client, it creates a world of problems. An invoice that’s been produced can’t be changed. It needs to be credited and re-created.

You need a process.

It’s not just about having a process for invoicing. It’s about having a process for everything from time sheets to the delivery of the invoices.

  1. Time sheets should be approved by the project manager or the account manager for that client. This helps detect errors right from the start. If someone has accidentally billed their time to the wrong client, the approver will see it and get it corrected before it gets to billing.
  2. Invoices should follow a standardized format, where constant element are always there, such as taxes, payment terms, contract or purchase numbers, etc. This avoids looking unprofessional to the client by providing a stable “frame” to the invoice.
  3. Invoices should be approved before they leave the draft stage. Approving invoices is usually done by the project manager or account manager. It’s our last chance to find potential mistakes.

This 3-step process creates accountability for all actors: team members who fill out their time sheets, project managers and account managers who know best what should and should not be billed, and the administration team, who keeps everything neat and professional.

12 questions to answer before choosing a time and billing system

Tommy Dodgen, age 4, standing by the largest lamp in the world: Tampa, FloridaBefore starting your search for a time sheet, invoicing and project cost management system, several requirements must be established to help you narrow the choices down and make sure you look for what you really need.

Besides the software’s features and pricing, several other criteria should be included in evaluating solutions: usability, scalability, customer service, etc.

Twelve questions you should answer before choosing a time management solution

  1. Do I only need a simple time sheet and expense report application, or a centralized, integrated solution?
  2. How reliable is my current time sheet and expense report system? How do I control my projects’ profitability?
  3. Should the solution allow for project management and project budget control?
  4. Should the solution allow complex projet structures, with phases and sub-tasks?
  5. Should the solution allow for setting budgets at the task level within a project?
  6. Should the solution allow for both billable and non-billable items, should it support cost and sell rates?
  7. How flexible should the software be when it comes to rates? Should it allow special rate per project, per task, per employee, per time period, per role?
  8. Should the solution integrate with your accounting system and payroll?
  9. Which reports will you need to manage your projects? Can the solution provide those reports?
  10. Can your invoice formats be reproduced within the solution?
  11. How closely should your software vendor work with you? How will you add/remove licences, customize reports and invoices?
  12. Will you need a web-based interface to log time and expenses?

About Invoicing by Email

Another KI Invoice

I stumbled on two interesting Linkedin polls about the way customers like to receive their invoices. While both polls show a marked preference for receiving invoices by email, it’s also interesting to note the increase in this preference, over the course of only one year.

In 2009, about a third of customers preferred email to receive invoices. In 2010, this number almost doubled to 70%! Interestingly, the proportion of customers who preferred a paper copy did not change significantly, from 22% to 19,5%. Customers who prefer to log on to a portal or be invoiced directly in their bank environment is much lower.

2010

2009

Email 134 70% 86 36%
Hardcopy 38 19.5% 52 22%
Bank environment 19 10% 39 16%
Other 1 0.5% 62 26%
Total responses 192 240

Check out the Linkedin polls:

It seems email is becoming increasingly official a communication channel. Should it be? How reliable is email, really? Regardless, the fact remains that without email, invoicing is slower more resource intensive.

What do you think?

What’s your invoice DNA?

Capital City Dairy Company

Everyone invoices differently. In the professional service field, it’s even more varied: we have fixed contract invoicing, time and material invoicing, mixes of both. We can invoice at the end of the month for work done, or invoice when a milestone is reached, or even invoice when a phase of the project is completed!

Let’s take it a step further: one client may require different invoicing. Some clients require a detailed list of the work done. Other clients prefer a simpler invoice. Sometimes, it depends on the contract: for one client, we might have one fixed-price project, and another time and material project.

It can be a nightmare. And it takes forever. And you can be sure there will be mistakes.

With Abak, you can setup different invoice formats to fit the different ways that you invoice. For each project, you can decide how to invoice the project. And the rest is Abak’s job. It saves and awful lot of time at the end of the month. In fact, our clients reduce their invoicing time by 60% on average. This means an invoicing run that used to take a week now takes only two days.

Think about what you could do with this time!

Save water: send your invoices by email

 

It takes 10 liters of water to produce one sheet of paper.  Humans need 2 liters of water per day to remain hydrated. This means that for each page of paper we use, we could keep 5 persons hydrated for a day.

Does it still make sense to invoice your clients by regular mail? Sending invoices by email is greener and faster. And it takes less space – one hard drive can keep thousands of invoices.

Abak automates invoicing by email – including recurring invoices. This helps businesses be even more efficient with their time and resources.

Today is blog action day. This year’s topic is water. Have a drink on us!