When it comes to choosing an invoice or billing software we really are spoilt for choice. There really is a huge number of products and services to choose from each with their own feature set and pricing structure. Evaluating the various products available can be an overwhelming process especially if you are not sure what to look for. This article aims to break it down and list the most essential points to look for. By the end of this article you should have the knowledge to put you on the right track to picking right invoice or billing software product for business needs, tastes and budget.
Cost : This is a good place as any to start your evaluation as there may be a huge price difference between products. Some products can be free while others can be in the region of thousands of dollars targeted at the bigger companies. Some may require ongoing monthly or annual subscriptions which may add up in the long run. Start by checking the price as some products may be well over your budget or what you are prepared to spend.
Tax Requirements : If you are required to bill and collect some form of Sales Tax, GST, VAT etc, check if the product can handle this for you and meet the requirements of your local Tax Authority ? First check that the invoice layout complies with the requirements of your local Tax Authority. For example, are you required to display your Tax registration number ? Are you required to display words “Tax Invoice” on all your invoices ? Is the tax component clearly indicated on the invoice ? Are different items on your invoice taxed at different rates or is tax applied on the total only ?
Next, does the product process the relevant tax reports that you need to help you prepare your tax returns. Are you able to support your submissions with a detailed listings of what makes up those summary values submitted ?
Documents : Besides invoices are there any other documents that you might need ? It might come in handy if you can prepare Quotes or Estimates as well. Some other documents that might be useful especially in Trading companies are Credit Notes, Delivery Orders, Packing List & Purchase Orders to Vendors. Being able to convert a Quote to an Invoice is also a great time saving feature to have. Finally are these document customizable to your needs or taste ? Are you able to add your logo or customize the look and colour so it looks like your company stationery if needed ?
Data : Does the product allow you to enter all the important information you need about your customers, vendors, contacts, invoices and documents? Are all the important fields catered for ? If you are a Trading company, you may also need an Inventory module. Are you able to import your data from external source to save you time keying in your list manually. Are you able to export your customers, vendors and inventory to an open file format if the need arises ?
If your business provides a services, are you able to enter descriptive text in the Quotes and Invoices.
Are you able to enter customer receipts ? If customer pays partial or multiple payments can the product track the information
Reports : Are you able to obtain the relevant reports from the product like sales, debtors, receipts, customer statements etc ? Check that the reports are presented in a manner that is useful to you and preferably customizable.
Search Features : As your data accumulates and grows you must be able to enter simple search criteria and easily locate customers, invoices, inventory items etc with ease. You really don’t want to be browsing the entire lists to find records.
User Security : If you have or will have other users or staff who will be assisting you, then you might need to restrict access to certain parts of the program or data. For example, you might not want them to be able to be able to delete invoice or customer records. You might not want them to view your sales reports or inventory cost price. The product you choose must have a mechanism to allow you to specify what other users can and cannot do.
There are several other points that you may want to add to this list like hardware requirements, support options etc but this just about covers the most important points that you need to consider when choosing your Invoice or Billing Software.