by: Claire Scott
Invoicing will always play a part in professional life. But for many accountants, this process takes up a disproportionate amount of their valuable (read: billable) time. The QuickFee 2022 CPA Firm Survey even showed that one-third of firms spend more than 5 hours a week just collecting payments. That adds up.
Whether you spend those hours chasing late payers or getting paper cuts from envelopes, traditional invoicing doesn't just create time challenges. It also makes it tough to meet expanding client expectations in 2023.
Enter e-invoicing: Defined as the immediate exchange of invoices in electronic format, usually through email or specialized software. There are many ways to set up an e-invoicing solution, but how do you decide on the best one for your firm? More importantly: How do you start using one without adding to your team's workload?
1. Identify your firm's top "time sinks" for invoicing.
Before selecting an e-invoicing system, determine where your team gets stuck. Sometimes you can address all the issues with your practice management system provider alone – but in many cases, you'll need to find a specialized software provider or integration to close the loop.
At most CPA firms, three tasks tend to be the biggest "time sinks" for traditional invoicing:
Sending out payment reminders
Following up on overdue payments
Physically printing and mailing invoices
So start by investigating your current vendor and seeing what they can provide. Even if they let you create electronic invoices, chances are high that you won't be able to fix all three problem areas outlined above.
To maximize results, look for solutions to automate payment reminders and create natural, consistent cadences for client follow-up.
You should also prioritize client experience. Even if your practice management system offers e-invoicing, you need to provide clients with a range of easy payment options and make sure the process is truly effortless on their side. That usually means integrating with the right payment service provider.
2. Find an e-invoicing solution that is easy to set up and integrate.
It's one thing to prioritize digital transformation at your firm. It's another thing to purchase expensive, time-intensive software that over-promises and under-delivers.
Here are a few e-invoicing buzzwords you probably want to avoid when looking at solutions. (Note: This is especially necessary if your team is small or uncomfortable with a more advanced setup process.)
Artificial intelligence/machine learning: While we're all for efficient AI solutions, the simple fact is that you don't need one for effective e-invoicing. It's usually a branding gimmick and rarely comes with comprehensive service that would justify its price tag.
Digital workflow automation: Another powerful idea that tends to be overused in the e-invoicing world. As long as your systems can cover e-invoice creation, sending invoices to clients, and tracking them within your preferred client management system, you don't need 100 more steps in your workflow.
Cloud-based solutions: A fancy way of saying that your e-invoicing platform relies on a cloud storage service instead of localized servers. That’s already true for most technology services, so it's not adding much to the conversation.
You also want to note how long it takes to set up the solution. Some B2B software platforms take 2-3 weeks minimum to onboard and fully train your staff. QuickFee's e-invoicing platform Connect comes free with an online payment portal and only takes a few days to start using.
3. Don't forget about payment reconciliation.
One of the most overlooked areas of the invoicing process? Payment reconciliation. If you don’t connect digital payments back to the right accounts, it will result in costly delays (and potentially losses) for your firm.
However, reconciliation can be a painstaking and frustrating process on its own – requiring billing managers and staff to spend hours tracking down receipts and entering the data into your practice management system. This also introduces more risk of human error to the payment data.
That is why you should always ask how an e-invoicing solution provider handles invoice reconciliation. Make sure it’s easy to sync with your CRM or practice management system.
Skip the Manual Work with a Simple E-Invoicing Solution
QuickFee Connect is an easy to use e-invoicing option that plays well with your practice management software. It integrates with Wolters Kluwer CCH Axcess™ Practice and CCH® ProSystem fx® Practice Management, with more integrations for accounting and law firms in the 2023 roadmap.
78% of respondents in QuickFee’s 2022 survey also said they'd be either somewhat or very likely to recommend the service to other firms and colleagues. Aside from being easy for firms to use, it's simple for the client to pay their invoice from their email.