How to Best Keep Track of Your Invoices

A large percentage of businesses use invoices to bill the customer for services rendered. There are also many ways in which the invoices can be printed. Many businesses start off by using a Word Document as a template for invoicing, and gradually evolve into using expensive accounting software. You should at least use a basic accounting package and I will tell you why.

To help demonstrate why I think accounting packages are the best way, I will walk through the 4 phases startup business go through. In  the examples below we will focus on invoices, but the concepts can apply to many different forms such as estimates, purchase orders and more.

Document Templates– Most business computers come with some sort of Office Suite (Microsoft Office is the most common) which includes a document editor. Startup costs are very important to control, and very often tools already available are used to suit the current needs. Invoices are normally very structured in layout whereas document editors usually produce very fluid layouts, with unprofessional results.

Initial costs of using a document template are very low, however when the business decides to upgrade the way invoices are done all the information will need to be re-captured. Also, calculations done on a document template are done manually and very susceptible to human error.

Spreadsheet Template – Months later, as the business gets more familiar with the Office suite and the spreadsheet program, they begin to realize that spreadsheets are powerful and can do many of the calculations that weren’t automatic in the document editor. The invoices produced begin to have the structured layout, however the invoices are stored in multiple excel files and after a while organization of these excel files become a problem.

Like document templates, spreadsheets are initally low in cost. Setting up a really good template can take a few hours of someone who is very experienced with spreadsheets. Invoices saved as spreadsheets are difficult to browse through or to find previous information. Organization of the invoices are key, and there are many different ways of trying to organize them.

Basic Accounting Package – Using an entry level accounting package is the first step businesses take towards having a solid invoicing solution. These accounting packages all come with a default template that has the most common pieces of information found on invoices. These templates are usually colorless and very plain.

Using basic accounting packages for recording invoices allows for easy searching, and browsing previous invoices by date or by customer. Although invoices and other form templates have not yet been customized, the data will always be there. Many accountants can work with the files that these accounting packages produce, reducing the workload required for balancing your books.

The only disadvantage that I see to using the templates out of the box is that they are very generic and don’t have the branding that your business should have.

If a video tutorial showing you how to setup one of the recommended accounting packages interests you, please request information from us.

Customizing Accounting Package Templates – Accounting packages usually have templates for the estimates, invoices and other client correspondence produced. As businesses become aware of the importance of branding and consistently presenting a single image for all printed and online material, the templates are changed to incorporate the colors and logo of the business.

Changing the template for invoices and other forms usually take effect for previous items that have already been created, so that when they are reprinted they have the updated look.

If a video tutorial showing you how to customize the various templates for your accounting package interests you, please request information from us.

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1 comment

Real Estate Investment Software - August 23, 2009 Reply

There are many great software tools available to help you manage your business invoices etc. Great suggestions!