Another big week of minor (and a couple of not so minor) improvements to Accelo from our product team! Coming into the last week of the month (and the quarter) the focus is still rightly on improvements to the new Invoicing module, with lots of continued improvements, many of them a direct result of great client feedback and ideas! If you've got any questions or want to make your own suggestions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week we shipped a number of significant improvements to invoice templates. Now you can:
If you haven't set a Default Title, we'll also automatically use "Invoice for [company_name]" in the create screen, which should speed up the billing process too!
This week we also shipped a number of improvements to support having your own custom fields on invoices. Improvements included:
With these improvements we're excited to see how our users can extend the invoicing system to support Purchase Orders, divisional references and other categorizations and customizations for invoices!
We had a temporary problem with the Contract/Retainer Period screen not reflecting change in allowance usage if work was unlinked from the period (which happens when a Ticket or Project was mistakenly linked to the Contract/Retainer Period). While this "oops, I changed my mind" situation is a bit of an edge case, it is resolved now so feel free to flip flop away!
This problem was affecting a handful of invoices that were created with an incomplete invoice template. We’ve applied patches to ensure these invoices are now fully editable again, even if they were created a bit messed up.
A small permissions change related to materials on retainer periods resulted to this problem in the client portal. We’ve since corrected to bad permission check which has fixed the portal side of things - so now any clients who want to check in on the work you're doing for them (where that work involves materials and services) will be able to keep on watching you.
The new Create Invoice screen was being a little too clever in calculating the budget of a project (displayed for reference purposes) based on milestones and tasks even though a fixed-price was set at the project level. This cleverness has been straightened-out!
While most of the time when you get an email attachment sent to you it has a name/title (even those embedded with a copy and paste inside the body of an email, like an image or screenshot), there's been some situations where clients have been receiving emails with anonymous attachments. This improvement allows us to snag even these resources when we process captured emails - we will end up giving the emails our "best guess" titles, but at least they'll be there!
One of the favorite features of our more advanced users is the ability to forward or BCC emails to special "alias" addresses. These alias addresses, like email@example.com (which ensures the whole email thread is tracked against the Project with ID 123) or firstname.lastname@example.org (which ensures the whole email conversation, involving a client, is linked to the most recently modified sale for the client in question) are great ways to keep your information in Accelo in the right place, but we previously didn't have support for including our Assets module in the fun. Now we do - if you want to make sure an email is tied to an asset, you can simply email it to email@example.com (where 456 is the ID of the Asset and "domain" is your own subdomain) and we'll track the activity (and its attachments) against the Asset - ideal for keeping track of logs or warranty information!
Similarly to the newly supported firstname.lastname@example.org outlined above, you can now also support email@example.com to ensure that emails you send are tied to the most recently modified client Contract/Retainer, routed to the latest started Period.
This improvement means we now have fully functional invoice item sync’ing between Accelo and Xero. No matter where the invoice is created, the Item codes used will be maintained for each line item.
The Activity Export is a great way to get a report of all the work that has been happening against a given client, sale, project, ticket, retainer or anywhere else Activities live. From any Stream screen, you can click on the "List and Export" icon and find yourself on a screen where you can easily filter the (often numerous) Activities and even export them.
Now the Export to Excel format has two main improvements:
With the new invoicing system, it’s possible to create much more complex invoices - e.g. an invoice containing multiple retainer periods with various materials and expenses, as well as a project on the side that has its own set of materials and expenses! We quickly realized the mechanisms under-the-hood to track every part of the invoice were struggling to cope with the complexity, so we’ve spent a week or so implementing a new linking structure to ensure everything is handled perfectly when even the most unwieldy multi-object invoice is created, edited, deleted, re-created and so on!
Deprecating some ledger & tax fields in favour of the new Material Items feature
Specifically this applies to materials found in retainers, retainer periods as well as any retainer types configured in the admin area. These materials no longer need to have their ledger and tax manually set since each retainer material now has a corresponding Material Item. When creating new materials in a retainer/period, we advise selecting the most appropriate Material Item from your Materials list. This will tell the invoicing process which account ledger and tax code to use.
When an alert comes in from Kaseya, we're now including the "Live Connect" URL to make it easy for your team members to log in and see what's going on - all without leaving Accelo.
This is handy as it allows the timesheet data to update without triggering a full page re-load - meaning we can also preserve the week you were looking at plus maintain any filters you have selected.
Quickbooks, particularly the desktop version and it's installed web connector is a very picky beast. Different fields in Quickbook Desktop have different limits to everywhere else, so after some of our clients started sending fairly long names in invoices we've made sure to truncate these so Quickbooks can get the invoice (even if the text has had a haircut). Similarly, Quickbooks is quite unhappy with processing the colon character in invoices - we've dumbed down the data to make Quickbooks play nice, again.
When we commenced the Invoicing upgrade, we resolved to support Quantities and Rates properly on invoice line items, and when it came to deciding how fine-grained to be with our data storage we took our guidance from the accounting systems we integrate with. These modern accounting systems use a maximum of 4 decimal places, but in real world data we worked through with clients, it turns out that more decimal places were needed: 32 minutes, 0.533333 of billable time at $375 an hour is $200.00, but when truncated to 4 decimal places, 0.5333 x $375 = $199.99.
To address this we decided to extend our data support to 6 decimal places for both quantities and rates, however, this meant a lot of work to overcome the shortcomings of the accounting systems we integrate with - the last thing you want is to create this $200.00 invoice proudly, have it push to the accounting system, then have it sync back to Accelo and produce an invoice in pretty PDF format for the client with the incorrectly rounded $199.99 amount sent to your client).
Now, is the accounting system (with its 4 decimal place limit) disagrees with our more accurate 6 decimal place limit we'll pass a quantity of 1 and a rate of the total value (excluding tax) of the line item, and as best we can handle it intelligently when we import it back in. Phew - that wasn't fun.
Showing full staff names by default wasn’t sitting well for a few of our users, so we’ve switched to this more discreet format, so instead of showing “John Smith” we're now showing “John S.” in both the Itemized service item titles and the Work Detail columns. This change also helps with formatting/space issues that can occur with long lastnames. Thirdly, our previous “Invoice Activity Report” feature displayed Staff Name in this shorter format, so we want to be more consistent here.
When we process emails from new client contacts - either because they're going against a Request that has the rule to create a new contact, or because the sender's email address matches a domain we recognize to be a client and automatically create the contact against that client - we have been doing an inconsistent job of handling attachments. Now, if a new client contact is created and the company rules don't dictate the email to be confidential or private, we'll now be capturing them properly and consistently.
This is a super small but very long-lived request; now, when you export a list of companies, the values in the "Comments" field on the company will be part of the Excel export.