In this blog series we’re looking at effective quoting and invoicing. The first blog provided an overview of these business-critical operations, while the second blog looked at the impact of bad processes. With many small businesses turning to technology to improve and streamline processes, this blog considers how to successfully digitise quoting and invoicing.
Streamlined processes ensure shorter payment times
Accuracy, speed, consistency and professionalism are all essential when it comes to quoting and invoicing. Both documents need to present the company well, clearly set out terms and conditions and be easy to understand. They also need to be timely – for small businesses in particular, getting quotes out quickly improves chances of securing business, while rapidly issuing invoices reduces time to payment. Both are critical for revenue and cash flow.
Manual, ad-hoc ways of managing quoting and invoicing are inefficient, time-consuming and prone to errors. At worst, they can lead to missed revenue opportunities. Paper-based quotes and invoices cost businesses money in terms of printing, postage, filing and manpower.
Streamlining through automation
It’s little surprise therefore, that businesses are turning to electronic methods. In fact, according to industry body EESPA (European E-invoicing Service Providers Association) 986 million electronic invoices (e-invoices) were processed by members in 2014 – a 17 percent growth on the previous year.
Going digital for quoting and invoicing brings a whole range of benefits. These include getting paid sooner. Just cutting out the time it takes to print, post, deliver and wait for recipients to action paper-based documents can shave around five days off the process. Which brings your business five days closer to payment.
Benefits of enhanced data management
Electronic systems provide a better record of correspondence with customers and can register receipt of documents sent to reassure you that they reached their destination. Everyone in the business with system access can check on latest status and refer back to previous quotes or invoices during the course of their interactions with customers. In the event of a dispute, there’s electronic proof of document receipt.
Data is important in all organisations. Electronic records of quotes and invoices means they can be retrieved instantly, equipping you with fast access to valuable information; for example, total value of potential business (for sales forecasting) and total value of outstanding invoices (for cash flow management). This data can be accessed, sorted and presented as needed. Furthermore, the auditing process will run far more smoothly if requested documents can be retrieved immediately.
There are many other benefits to e-invoicing – you can find out more from our white paper.
Taking the digital step
To successfully make the transition from printed to digital quoting and invoicing, you need solutions that:
1.support multiple channels – for customers to receive documents by email, fax, through an online system or other means
2.can be accessed whenever your users need it and from wherever they might be – with an online, cloud-based solution invoices can be submitted or approved from anywhere with an internet connection
3.support multiple file formats compatible with popular applications your customers may be using, can migrate data from existing accounts packages and can match your company document design
4.store documents for the required length of time and supports easy search and retrieval
5.provide proof of delivery and data analysis for business insight
6.can bill automatically based on sales orders, delivery orders, contracts or time and material and create invoices based on quotes sent
7.facilitate online payment to enable prompt and hassle-free settlement.