How much do you love invoicing? I imagine, about as much as you love cleaning the mouldy food out of the back of your refrigerator. Or possibly your annual trip to the dentist. Or maybe as much as your neighbor's dog who likes to run around in circles yapping excitedly for seven straight hours.
On invoicing days, you will usually find me in the kitchen, condiments spread everywhere, frantically trying to discern exactly what that lump of amorphous green goo stuck at the bottom of the vegetable crisper once was.
As an architect, you’re writing invoices all the time, for huge amounts of money. You’ve probably had enough late-paying clients or miscalculated fees to understand how important it is to stay on top of invoicing and make sure you haven’t missed off a zero or moved a decimal point in the total. But pulling all the data together, giving the client the information they want, and making sure you’ve calculated it all correctly can take hours. Hours you’d rather spend on other tasks, like actually working in the studio.
And then, after you’ve spent hours on the invoice, you send it off like a proud parents to the client, who proceeds to ignore your masterpiece for several months, all the while your bank account is shrinking and your accountant is shaking his head sadly.
Does your invoicing system need an overhaul? Could you be doing something better to help steer clients toward paying on time? Anything that gets money in your pocket faster is definitely a good thing, so let’s take a look at 7 tips for streamlining your invoicing process:
Tip 1: Make Technology Work for You
Because of the way an architectural practice works, you will need a relatively sophisticated invoicing system. You will need to include multiple elements in every job; studio time, site visits, printing, sub-contractors, sundries, council inspections … the list goes on. You might even be working on multiple jobs for one client, which all need to go on the same invoice.
Are you typing out each of these invoices by hand, and painstakingly sourcing all the data from timesheets and purchase orders and post-it notes strewn throughout the office? Have you ever made a mistake?
Or are you using an invoicing software tool but find it doesn’t do everything you’d like it to do, such as include multiple jobs on one invoice or allow you to bill according to the quoted time or the actual time?
The biggest improvement you could possibly make to your invoicing process would be to move to an automated cloud-based invoice system that incorporated some, or all, of your firm’s other admin and project management tasks. Imagine being able to create a quote in a few minutes, then convert that quote into a job where your team can track their time and costs, then with the press of a button convert that job into an invoice when it’s done? There are some pretty sophisticated solutions out there right now, and the cloud isn’t as scary as you think it is!
This article, by Steff Green, first appeared on WorkflowMax's blog and was reprinted with permission.