Invoicing and accounts receivable go hand-in-hand, which is why they’re both reviewed in this issue. It’s impossible to have a solid accounts receivable system without including a proper invoicing function. How can you collect on balances due if customers and clients aren’t provided with timely invoices?
While invoicing on the surface seems like a fairly straightforward feature, (and simple invoicing is), how customers and clients are invoiced can be just as important as when. Do you provide your customers with a mailed invoice only? What about online or emailed invoices? Do you currently have the ability to provide your customers and clients with an invoice via email? Can you easily process recurring invoices, which are vital for those that collect a flat fee each month, such as for subscriptions or nonprofits that have recurring giving programs.
As I mentioned in the accounts receivable section of this issue, everyone wants to get paid on a timely basis, and while the function of accounts receivable is to manage balances owed your business, the job of an invoice is to remind your customers that you are owed a specific amount of money and that money is expected by a certain date.
Some of the invoicing features we looked for in the applications that we reviewed include the ability to offer multiple payment options – which will likely ensure quicker payment. Accepting online payments often means quicker payment. Another feature we looked for is the ability to customize your invoices and statements. Branding is important – you want your customers and clients to know where the invoice is coming from immediately. Automatic payment reminders are essential, and if you’re a service business or an accountant billing a client, can you track your time and invoice it easily?
In this issue, we looked at many of the same products that we reviewed for their Accounts Receivable capabilities, mainly because the two functions are so closely related. Again, these products vary widely, with some suitable for small businesses, to those that work with enterprise level operations, to those designed strictly for professional accountants. While reviewing these applications, we focused on the availability of some key features, including:
- Online payment options
- Customizable invoice templates
- The ability to process recurring invoices
- Automatic payment reminders
- Automated late fees
- Time and expense tracking
- Sales tax
- Integration with the core application
- Integration with other applications
The included chart provides a quick look at which of the programs reviewed offer these features, although the final product rating is based on other aspects – not just the availability of absence of a feature.
Mentioned earlier, the products in the review vary widely in functionality and their particular audience. The products included in the Invoicing review include:
Accounting Software Applications:
- AccountantsWorld (for accounting professionals only)
- QuickBooks Online
- Sage 50c
- Thomson Reuters Accounting CS (for accounting professionals only)
- Wave Accounting
Solid invoicing capability, like accounts receivable capability, is a necessity, whether you’re a global enterprise or a freelance editor. While the needs of the global enterprise will not be the same as those of a freelance professional, ease, convenience, and the capability to produce professional invoices is the same.
Whether you produce a dozen or thousands of invoices a month, having a system in place to simplify the process will go long way towards getting your invoices out to your customers, and ultimately getting paid, which is what every business owner strives for.