Business Efficiency & Process Optimization Consultant 
Accounting Software Expectations P1

"Automatic Invoices"

Most business owners do not understand the terms used by accounting software providers because many business owners do not understand the accounting process.  Since most business owners do not think they need to learn more about accounting policies and procedures, often the business owner believes that the accounting software will work by itself without any work from them or the software will work without advice from a trained accountant.  I can tell you this is not the cause and the Most High YAH says we are to manage our wealth.  Why would we want to push off learning more about accounting?  Sadly, laziness is the issue, and the software providers know this and promote poor accounting habits for sales.  And once the business owner buys the software, they give the accountant a tough time when they do not want to pay for the services that the accounting system will not produce.  So, let us cover some reasonable expectations for automation in software.

Sales automatic invoice creation and tracking.

Strangely people believe the non-accountant software provider over the accountant when we say the software does not provide certain features.  If an accountant does not know of a feature it could be one of two reasons.  The software provider rolled out the feature before notifying the accountants and this happens often.  Or the accountant is not trained on the software.  In my case, the software provider normally rolls out a feature before we are notified because I have used various accounting software for more than 14 years now.  

When creating invoices there are software options that will create and email the invoice to your client, once this process is set up, it only applies to, reoccurring invoices, invoices that do not change.  If you have invoices that are the same amount this feature will work for the business owner.  However, if you have invoices with different amounts and each client is different you will have to create your invoices each time or hire someone to invoice your clients with the correct terms.

How does the business owner misunderstand this feature?

Normally the business owner believes that connecting their bank account for bank downloads will create the sales information to drop into their accounting software automatically.  Business owners do not add their merchant accounts into the accounting software.  Bank deposits download in bulk so figuring out if it is one sale or multiple sales is not possible without the original invoices. If the original invoice is not created and matched in the software or if the client does not pay their invoices online through your merchant account, the business owner or a designated person will need to enter the invoices and receive payment.  Most business owners invoice out of a separate application like PayPal and PayPal only matches the invoices if the initial invoice is sent from the accounting software, not PayPal.  The correct way is to integrate PayPal or your merchant account if it is an available choice with your software and send your invoices out of your accounting software.  The problem is that business owners want to accept payment outside of the accounting software because they want to do it the way other people (people that do not understand online payments) do it or the way they have always known.  Change is good because starting from the software will reduce data entry and duplicate work.  The client receives your invoices and can select to pay via your merchant account

The best accounting process is to create your invoices from within your accounting software and doing this on the front end is what will save you time and money in the long run.  If you do not want to invoice via your software that is fine, but you will pay more to have someone enter your data for you.  Also, you will need to send the person your invoices created outside the software because remember the bank downloads and the merchant downloads are not sufficient information.

The thought process behind the invoice entry is in the flowchart.

An automated invoice the amount does not change.  If your invoices change including sales and use tax such as the client moves, you will need to create a new invoice, or a basic template or reoccurring invoice preference would create the invoice, but it would require an update for the correct information.  Most sales are not reoccurring so you will need to create your invoices.  You can also create invoices from estimates.  See my estimate to invoice the course. (Top window or the top half of the invoice.)

The middle half of the widow or the middle of the invoice is where you enter the invoice details.

The bottom half of the invoice is where you would see your payment gateway options for your merchant account.   Clients can pay with their card or the bank account without you entering the payment details.  Also, avoid accepting payments over the phone as this increases security issues and errors.  The merchant accounts fees are also higher for the transactions entered on our side.

Why do you save time if you have to create your invoices in the accounting software?  You will not have to scan in or add in or create invoices later with data entry.  You can remove the issue with entering in card payments and you can process payments for the client going forward so they do not have to enter their card or account information for future payments with permission only.

What if you accept website payments do you have to create that invoice?  Yes, if you do not work with an option that will not add the invoice to the software.  No, if you use another application, Zoho offers other options that will connect to Zoho Books like Zoho Checkouts, and depending on the merchant it will create the invoice for you.  I like that choice, so I do not have to create all my invoices for the website or reoccurring payments.  Zoho Checkouts also cost less than say setting up a special website, shopping cart, or checkout and it is safe and professional.

Zoho Books comes with a client payment portal or payment links. You can also set up the invoice and have the client access a Zoho Books client portal to pay their invoices from email or online.  I like the client portal so clients can log in and see their invoices and payments and download a statement for taxes if your business is a deductible business expense such as my business fees.  

Here is a snapshot of what it looks like to create a link to share with the client.  If you do not email out of the software, you can send this another method.

You could text the link, or post to a chat, but the client normally has email on their mobile device, and they can click the link within the email, and it will open on the mobile device.  Here is what the client will see using the link to pay the invoice.  Emailing the link will not invite the client to set up their portal.  You will send that invite from the Customer section inside of Zoho Books, but you could set a preference that will also automate the email if you so choose.  I prefer to email the invite-only to those that request access.

The message at the bottom says Zoho Invoice but Zoho Invoice is a different application from Zoho Books.  Zoho Books is the better option.

I hope this short tutorial will help you understand that updating your software is a daily process.  If you do not create your invoices someone will need to create and keep the file up.  Having the information download and addition as sales without invoices will not properly update the sales and use taxes either if you have sales with sales and use tax.  Using sales without invoices will give you the fact detail of your business activities and it will not help you follow up with late or missing payments.  Proactive is the best way to steer your business into productivity that increases profits.

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