Hackernoon logoComplete Guide to Choosing the Best Billing & Invoicing Software by@ashok83

Complete Guide to Choosing the Best Billing & Invoicing Software

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@ashok83Ashok

Digital Strategist at Signity Solutions (www.signitysolutions.com)

Let me tell you a simple truth. Billing & invoicing is a pain. It has always been. Remember the pre-computer era of accounting? I am talking about the time when companies used to hire accountants and data entry operators to manually maintain billing & invoicing records in heavy files. The process was hectic. It took days and sometimes weeks to create invoices, send them out, and following up on unpaid bills. Above this, it could also cost a lot of time and money.
But now the times have changed. This is 2020, the time of automation - an era where companies no longer need to hire accountants and data entry operators for the billing & invoicing purpose. 
Instead, there are billing & invoicing software that can effectively manage these processes, thus saving a lot of time and money.
All thanks to these billing and invoicing utilities, it’s very easy to keep and send personalized invoices. They can ensure that all the bills get paid on time and you don’t lose track of payments.
Here is what billing & invoicing software typically do:
  1. Creating & customizing bill invoices
  2. Simplifying bill payments
  3. Generating reports of every transaction
However, the problem is that choosing an ideal billing and invoicing software is a challenging task. The market is swarmed with thousands of options and each claims to be the best. So, how would you decide which one is the best for your billing & invoicing needs? Well, that is the reason for this blog in which we will walk you through the process of choosing the best billing & invoicing utility for your business. 
So, let's begin with the basic question, i.e.

Why do we need billing & invoicing software?

Here are some of the key invoicing software trends to watch: 

1. For minimizing payment duration

The process of billing & invoicing was hectic back in the old days. Sometimes it used to take days and even weeks for a payment to completely process. However, the right billing & invoicing software can process the payment in just a few minutes. Imagine how much time we can save and how much productivity we can increase this way?

2. To reduce chances of lost payments

Billing & invoicing software can also reduce the chances of payment loss, which was a big problem in the old-school approach of billing & invoicing. A lot of payments got lost due to work pressure and negligence from the accounts department. However, billing & invoicing software keep a detailed record track of every transaction. So, the chances of missing out on any payment are close to impossible.

3. To streamline your accounting and financial processes

Back in the old days, the process of billing & invoicing required to hire a large finance department consisting of various accounts. Still, there was no organized process.
Payments often got delayed and sometimes got lost. However, all thanks to the billing & invoicing software, the whole process has been organized.
Things get done as planned and you don’t even have to hire a large team for maintaining your bills and invoices. Instead, you can hire a small team who know how to efficiently use these tools.
This way, can cut back on unnecessary costs by reducing the staff in the billing & invoicing department. Also, you can save time that you were earlier spending on following up with your clients.
This streamlines the entire accounting & financial process and increases the cash flow with faster payment of invoices and enhance your relation with customers.

4. For minimizing fraud & improving security

The old-school billing & invoicing process was full of risks. Anyone could steal files, burn records, or sometimes your own people could enter false records. However, billing & invoicing software these days come equipped with enterprise-grade security features, which ensure that the entire billing-to-payment process remains safe. All thanks to them you no longer have to worry that someone can tamper with records. In short, the process is way more secure than manually preparing invoices. That’s why you need them.

5. For helping you maintain a professional image

Since billing & invoicing software help you process bills and invoices faster, minimize the chances of lost payments, put forward an organized and prompt approach to streamline the accounting process, and ensure protection from theft and cyber frauds – they can significantly help you improve your brand reputation. Customer will trust you more and will be willing to do business with you.

Additional Reasons:

Government-led adoption: With time, governments have started realising that they can save more and perform billing & invoicing more effectively with the help of billing & invoicing software. This has led companies like USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and South American nations to quickly adopt to e-invoicing. Even the governments in these countries are quickly pushing for compliance with online invoicing.
Even the US Office of Management and Budget made it mandatory for all government agencies to adopt e-invoicing in 2018. Even the European Union mandated all public administrators to begin accepting online invoicing in the same year. That's why online billing & invoicing software are getting so popular.
Online invoicing software being the driver of the real-time economy: You can even imagine how much time and money can online invoicing save by processing bills faster and keeping an accurate record of each payment. This drives businesses and governments towards a real-time economy.  A purchaser can quickly validate the data and the supplier can immediately respond to invoices that can be modified and sent again. This will also reduce the scenarios of late payments or missing bills.   

Features of an Ideal Billing & Invoicing Software?

These are the features you should look for while choosing an ideal billing & invoicing app for your business:

1. New Invoice Creation

Billing & invoicing software must be capable of creating professional invoices that can be customized according to your brand requirements. It should allow the extraction and integration of information from time sheets, projects, and customer records for a more detailed invoice creation.

2. Customer Records Creation 

The billing & invoice software should allow you to summarize personal and purchase details of each customer with attached relevant files in a single, centralized database from where you can easily access and maintain it.

3. Credit Card Processing

The billing & invoicing software must allow the prompt processing of credit cards so that you don’t have to waste time and billing can be a lot easier. Some of these tools even come with auto-billing feature which ensure clients don’t miss even a single due payment.

4. Predefined templates

The way your bills and invoices look play an important role, especially if you want to establish a brand. This calls for the need of having some professional, pre-defined communication templates in the billing & invoicing software. Doing so will let you personalize your accounting and showcase your brand in the best way possible. Also, having pre-defined templates will save your time because you would not have to create them from scratch.

5. Multiple currency support

Multiple currency setting is a crucial feature to look for in a billing & invoicing tool if you have a global business. It will ensure that you can easily issue receipts, accept payments, and manage taxes while dealing with a worldwide clientele. This allows for seamless financial operations in your company.

6. Send/Receive Information

The customer information should be readily made available the moment you process a bill or an invoice. You should be able to quickly send the details of the transaction on their email so that they get the assurance that it was successful. The feature is only possible if you are storing the information in a centralized database.

7. Invoice, payment, and tax report

If even after having an invoicing system you still have to use external systems for tax reporting, there is no use. This means your billing & invoicing software must be capable of performing tax reporting within the same system, thus saving hours that you were going to spend for summarizing information.

Latest trends in billing & invoicing software

Just selecting a billing & invoicing software with basic features is not enough if you want your business to stand out. You have to stay aware with the latest trends and ensure that your billing & invoicing have them. As far as the billing & invoicing software are concerned, here are the trends that you must look for in the year 2020:

1. AI & automation

With time companies have realized that they no longer need to manually monitor their financial transactions. Instead, they can save a lot of time while also ensuring that there are less number of errors and fewer chances of late or missing payments.
Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is also going to play a crucial role in the automation of billing & invoicing tools by automating the settlement process, enhancing cash flow, and automatically identifying billing & invoicing frauds.

2. Blockchain technology

Since Blockchain allows companies to streamline the invoicing process by keeping a record of all transactions, it’s going to be a key trend in the upcoming year. The technology will make the cash flow management smoother. Companies will be able to send invoices faster, the chances of fraudulent activities will be removed, and a lot of time and effort will be saved. In a few years, we can expect blockchain to disrupt the traditional invoicing system in many ways.

3. Invoices systems will increasingly run in the cloud

With so many technologies running on the cloud, billing & invoicing will not be an exception. Software as a Service (SaaS) is going to be another new trend in the year 2020. Doing so will allow companies to access crucial records from just about anywhere. Moreover, it will be easier for companies receive real-time updates and take immediate actions.

4. The increasing use of mobile invoicing

Enterprise operations are getting more mobile-centric. So, how could billing & invoicing stay behind? That’s why mobile invoicing is in trend these days. You don’t really need to bother much about billing your clients. You send them a billing invoice with a payment request on their email, and they make the payment directly from their phone. That’s it. The reason mobile invoicing will get more mainstream in the year 2020 is because it is easy, convenient for clients, and can save a lot of time.  Also, it’s very easy to manage cash flow.

Challenges that your billing & invoicing software should be capable of solving

It is not just the billing & invoicing features and the trends in billing & invoicing that you must know about. Instead, it is also important to know about the issues that you might face while using a billing & invoicing software so that you do not make a wrong choice. So, here are some common issues faced by businesses in billing & invoicing:

1. Managing Account Receivable (AR) and Account Payable (AP) on the Cloud

Do you think it’s easy to manage receivables and payables in a big enterprise? It’s not. Multiple projects, multiple clients, and accepting payments on a global scale – the whole process is no less than a headache. You can’t keep track of all these things at the same time.
Hence, you need a billing & invoicing software that can keep track of everything, and manage the whole process seamlessly.

2. A large customer base leads to more errors

As your organization will grow and you will have more clients, you would realize that managing clients and their invoices are more difficult. You would often make mistakes, enter wrong details, and would sometimes even miss out on payments. So, you will need a billing & invoicing software that can take care of all these things.

3. Managing multiple clients’ payment cycles is difficult

Payments are more like a reward for your hard work. You would want to receive every single penny to reflect in your invoice. Moreover, multiple clients mean multiple payments and more cash flow. Still, enterprises face the issue of payment and cash flow more often. 
The problem is that managing multiple client payment cycles is a tedious task, and you would need a billing & invoicing software that can keep track of all these things. 

4. Lack of common global standard

Another problem you would realize in managing bills & invoices while working with global clients is that there are different working environments, different gateways through clients process payments, and different rules and regulations. The global landscape is further messed up by local variations in taxation and e-invoicing compliance agreements. All this results in payment delays and we often see the power of billing & invoicing getting limited due to this sheer ignorance. 
This calls for the need of an invoicing software that effectively work with all global standards and process payments without any hassle.

5. Data Security, theft, and Disaster Management

It’s true that proper security protocols and safety mechanisms are followed while processing bills & invoices on the cloud. Still, there is no online system that is an impenetrable fortress and can’t be breached by a determined hacker. 
For this reason, we will have to be prepared in advance and choose a billing & invoicing system that comes equipped with all security mechanisms to prevent data theft, cybercrime, and data loss during disasters.
Billing & invoicing software play a crucial role in businesses that demand quick processing of payments and where you have a large number of clients coming requesting for services. Restaurants are the best example of such businesses where you serve hundreds and sometimes thousands of clients each day. So, you will need a powerful billing & an invoicing system at such places.
Hopefully, this complete guide has given you an overview of what kind of billing & invoicing software you need.
A quick glance at the Billing & Invoicing Software we use in RestroApp
RestroApp empowers restaurants with powerful mobile apps that help them better serve customers and be more productive in what they do. We very well understand the importance of having a good billing & invoicing software.
This is the reason why the billing & invoicing software we use in RestroApp is equipped with the finest features. Let’s see what it is capable of:
  1. Generating customized real-time invoices from any device of your choice
  2. Turning restaurant tabletop tablets into a digital menu on which you can customize the way you want
Ease of processing payments. You can pay for your table using a mobile device. There is also an option to split the bill among friends or tip a restaurant waiter with whose service you are really happy.
  1. Push notification reminders of missed or late payments
  2. Easily track orders and bill payment history
  3. Ability to manage billing & invoicing of multiple locations from a single device

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