Managing Invoices With Your Database
Imagine this: you walk past the office of a business owner and there she is; practically tearing her hair out. You ask her what the problem is. She tells you that her accounting package might be very good at accounting, but it’s hopeless at providing her with the sales and income analysis she needs. How can you help her?
Now, it’s a well kept secret that a database that is already running the customers, projects and sales side of your business, can also do your invoicing. And the really cool thing about that is you can now tailor your database to give you all your sales and revenue data in a form that is useful to non-accountants!
So, what does it take to run your invoicing from your database? What are the key elements of this “invoicing” function?
Types of Invoice: Firstly, you need to be able to cater to all the different types of invoice that you generate. Some may be simple one-off items, but others may be multiple items per invoice and some may be based on an hourly rate. All of these can be managed within your database.
Link to Sales: This is the key point – when a sale is made, the details can be used to set up the invoice. From the sales record in the database, you know the customer, the contact who placed the order, the details of the products or services that have been sold, the sales person who made the sale (for commission purposes, if that’s applicable), and so on.
Create the Invoice: With all that data in place, it is an easy job to create and issue the invoice, sending it out by mail, or email, via the database links to your email and word processing programs.
Track Invoices Due: You always need to know how much money is outstanding and for how long. Do you have invoices that are outside your standard terms of payment? Who are the customers involved? Who is following these up and where are they up to with all that? These are all important questions that can be easily found in the database.
Cater to Part Payments: It’s a simple thing, perhaps, but you sometimes have to make it possible for customers to pay their invoices in instalments. This can be a good solution for a customer who is experiencing cash-flow problems.
Analyse Invoice Income: And, finally, this is where your database really shines. Analysing the past income of the organisation is very important. Having all your customers, sales, projects and invoicing data in the one place (in your database) makes analysis a breeze. You can do practically anything: income by year, by product/service, by sales person, by location/region, or anything else you can think of.
Accounting packages are great at controlling and managing the accounting data in an organisation. Most of them were not designed, however, to give management the sort of sales and income data that is so important to driving the business on a day-to-day basis.
So, next time you see that business owner tearing her hair out, tell her there is some hope, after all.