The faster you can bill your customers, the faster that revenue is available to use as working capital. This is why streamlining billing processes is critical for services companies.
But the reality is that many smaller companies struggle with this because they use slow, unreliable manual methods for tracking employee time, approvals, expenses and cash flow.
The best way for services companies to effectively manage project billing is to use a tool that improves accuracy, reduces the need for manual data entry and eliminates redundancy. These companies need quality financial accounting software.
Of the many ways these tools improve billing processes, here are the top four.
- Improve accuracy: With software tools, companies can capture time spent on a project and related expenses the moment they occur. For businesses that charge by time and expenses, this is particularly important. If you miss logging even a few minutes of work — and this is easy to do when you’re tracking time after the fact — the lost revenue can really add up. For example, if you’re creating a financial report for $150 an hour to cover writing, design, editing, approvals and executional time, and a step that required two hours actually took four hours, you’ve lost $300. If you capture the time and expense immediately, you’ll be able to bill faster and get paid faster, improving your cash flow.
- Determine profitability of jobs by tracking time and expenses at the project or job level: When you track all of your time and expenses for each project, you can easily go back to the software and see if you made any profit on a particular job. If you discover that you took a loss, you’ll need to find out where you spent too much time or too much money for expenses. With that information at your fingertips, you can adjust your price to cover any potential loss in the future. That’s the value of financial accounting software — you can figure out if something’s not profitable and fix it for future projects.
- Personnel can eliminate the need for data re-entry and any collection of data on paper forms: Maintaining paper forms requires significant resources. It takes time print them out, fill them out and send them in. And that doesn’t count the cost of postage. It’s much more efficient to perform all record keeping online. By imputing data directly into the system, you also don’t have to pay someone to look at the form and retype it, which is a big waste of time.
- Improve cash flow and speed up payments: Because time and expenses can be captured as they occur, billing doesn’t have to wait for these items to be updated in the system. As soon as the project is completed, the information about time and expenses will instantly be available for your accounts to send an invoice. And just like that, you’ve shortened your time to payment. Cash flow is better because no one is sitting around waiting for information. Accounting doesn’t have to call project managers for more information, only to discover they’ve gone on vacation for a week, letting even more time elapse between completing the project and billing for it. The sooner you send the bill, the better your chance of getting paid on time.
You need to bill your customers faster to sustain optimal cash flow. The key to this is eliminating manual processes for dealing with your bookkeeping by using financial accounting software. These systems allow you to streamline your operations, eliminate errors and improve productivity.