Choosing the best invoice or billing software for your needs is no easy feat. There are many products available today each with its own set of features, capabilities and costs. Evaluating each product is tedious and time consuming. This article aims to simplify the process by listing the most essential factors you cannot afford to overlook. By the end of this article you will be well on track to picking the best invoice software for your business or organization needs.
Cost: This is a good place to start. Before evaluating any product, best to check its cost. Some products can be free while others can be in the region of thousands of dollars targeted at bigger companies. Some are subscription based needing ongoing monthly or annual payments which may also add up in the long run. If the cost of the product or service is way beyond your budget then you may want move on to another product.
Sales Tax: If you are required to bill and collect some form of Sales Tax, GST, VAT etc, check that product can handle this for you and meet the requirements of your local Tax Authority? 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 to your Tax Authority. While you normally submit summary values in your return, your invoice software should provide you with a breakdown or detailed report.
Documents: Besides invoices, are there any other documents that you might need? For example, you might want to prepare Quotes or Estimates as well. Being able to convert a Quote to an Invoice is also a great time saving feature to have. If yours is a Trading company, you might need other business documents like Credit Notes, Delivery Orders, Packing List & vendor Purchase Orders. 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 for your business. Check the 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, does the product cater enough space for you to describe your services in the Quote or Invoice body. Do you need to indicate the customer’s purchase order number on your invoice? What about delivery instructions or payment instructions, terms and conditions etc?
Are you able to enter customer receipts? If customer pays partial or multiple payments can the product accommodate this?
Reports: Are you able to obtain the relevant reports from the product such as sales, debtors, receipts, customer statements etc? Check that the reports are presented in a manner that is useful to you. Customizable reports may also come in very useful to you.
Search Features: As your data accumulates and grows you will need good search features to help you locate invoices, customers, inventory records and more. This is one of the main reasons to use an invoice software in the first place.
Multi User Compatible: If you will have other users or staff who will be assisting you then the product must allow multiple users to access and update data concurrently. You would also like to restrict access to certain parts of the program or data. For example, you might not want some users 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.
The list here is by no means exhaustive but it will help ensure that you don’t miss some crucial factors. Take a moment to think about your specific business needs, hardware and software requirement and add them to this list when doing your research and evaluation.