The end of a billing cycle should be smooth sailing - and why wouldn't it be? It involves the excitement of delivery, appreciation from the client and most importantly, getting paid for all that hard work. However, we know first-hand that it hardly ever is.
While we can't avoid it entirely, there are ways to make client billing less painful. Here are some tips to dramatically cut the time wasted on invoicing, allowing you to focus on the creative work you enjoy doing.
1. Eliminate spreadsheets
For many of us, the pain of tying together spreadsheets is all too familiar. To get a picture of the work done for clients each month, it means collecting documents from different places, getting approval from managers and making time to reproduce the data for invoicing. It’s important to note that this manual process is heavily error-prone, with lots of opportunity for incompleteness.
Having any system that tracks time, sophisticated or not, will help make the billing process a lot simpler.
2. Don’t scatter data in different places
One of the main prolongers of client billing is having to export data from different systems and wield them together in a spreadsheet or other system.
Getting through the task of invoicing and billing is all a matter of connecting the moving parts. When all the data is in place, reporting becomes easier. By integrating time, projects and billing, you can cut the time wasted by senior staff on invoicing by as much as 80%
3. Easier billing involves everyone
If not spreadsheets, where should the data go? An efficient way of making billing easier is having staff track their work in one system. This means logging their billable hours to a place that eventually leads to manager approval and invoicing. Whether it's email, projects or tasks, having all of that information tracked makes reporting easier at the end of the billing cycle.
4. Timesheets are useful, but connecting them with tasks & schedules is better
While its mostly used in the beginning and middle of the service delivery cycle, tasks and scheduling is critical to streamlined client billing. When projects are planned, tasks can feed into team schedules. As people get through tasks, they can log hours and add notes into the system.
The benefit to having integrated timesheets and tasks is that your team is motivated to log work as it happens. This is because the tools they use to stay self-organized are also where they record time for managers - a win-win situation.
5. Connect timesheets to invoices
When employees enter time in the same place that invoices are created, the billing process is a matter of crossing t's and dotting i's. The invoices get out quicker when staff enter time, managers approve time and generate invoices in one system. Here are a few key components when choosing a timesheet & invoicing tool:
- A timesheet and invoicing integration that allows everyone to work in one place.
- A tool that people can use all day long.
- Having data in one place or transferrable, so you don't have to export.
6. Integrate with an accounting software
Every business manages accounting in different ways, whether it’s through an accountant or an accounting software, you need to make sure that all of your client billing data gets over to their territory. Having a system that integrates with an accounting software, whether that’s Xero, Quickbooks or other popular products, makes your business financials more streamlined.
7. Help clients pay faster
Online payment processing is one of the most ubiquitous and convenient technologies out there today. The benefits of making it available to clients are quite obvious: along with not having to deal with checks and mail, it makes it easy for clients to make payments and thus, your business gets paid faster. Here are tools & channels that are available for online invoice payments:
- Authorize.Net (requires bank merchant account)
- And our own Accelo includes payment processing integrations
It's recommended to set up automatic late payment reminders so that you don't have to keep track of which clients have paid and who haven't. This helps take some of the admin weight off busy business owners.
Check out this case study done in partnership with HDMZ on how they streamlined their agency with Accelo:
See how Accelo Retainers can streamline your client billing & time tracking.