Ever wondered how much time you are losing not automating processes that could be done faster and better by a machine? The administrative burden has become an inefficient killing method for employees and companies. More especially, the management of payments and invoices is time-consuming and demands an automated workflow. Manual invoice processing limits your organization’s ability to detect duplicate or late payments, which could lead to overpayment. Automated invoice processing means all invoices can be automatically stored, assigned to the proper workflow and routed electronically for approval – keeping your finances circulating without interruption, no matter how many invoices you have.
The manual invoicing process can create many issues which can be summarized around the following flaws:
- Workforce: manual invoicing demands employees and human power which could have been used for another more efficient task.
- Time management: invoice management and approvals take time.
- Data monitoring: data has to be entered manually which increases the risk of false entry and missing or wrong contact information.
- Costs: Data issues can generate additional costs as well as missing revenue.
- Lack of clarity: Manual invoicing process lead to unclear invoice status and issues in text assessment.
An obvious solution can help with these issues. This article focuses on automation and how to develop an automated invoicing process.
Create invoices: the influence of accounting!
Business processes and online payments usually imply paper invoices and extensive administrative burdens. Whether you are using paper or electronic invoices, all your invoices can be derived into two types:
- The accounts receivables and unpaid invoices
- The receipts and business finances
Accounts receivables for automated invoice processing
Even if small businesses and business owners usually work with quotes, the common usage is to send invoices when dealing with B2B professionals. Invoices work as payment requests, represent the amount due by the client to the company, and explain the details of the operation, the due date, and the late fees, if applicable. An invoicing system before payment is usually used to improve forecasting and, thus, improve cash flow.
In accounting, the invoice represents the “accounts receivable” for the company and the “accounts payable” for the client. The invoice essentially works as a payment request to be completed within a certain period (15 or 30 days for example). Late payments are subject to penalties and discounts are usually applied for paid-early customers which push clients to pay faster. However, manually routing documents can lead to further delays and even lost invoices.
Receipts and payments of automated invoice processing
Receipts are usually used to guarantee the customer that the transaction occurred correctly without any issues. On the company side, it allows correct accounting, record keeping, and acknowledgement of the transaction. The receipts are common in multiple commerce such as grocery stores or online shopping.
Ways to automate tasks within your invoicing processing
There are multiple ways to automate your invoicing process and enhance efficiency. Depending on your business needs, you may want to:
- Use an all-in-one solution like InvestGlass Invoice automation solution,
- Use a dedicated automation tool, or
- Rely on native integrations and features present in some of the apps you already use.
The plurality of methods enables you to select the one which makes the most sense according to your business model and size. Keeping this in mind, this article introduces six ways to automate your invoice management system.
1. Store data entry for invoice processing
During the sales process, sales teams usually gather an important amount of information on customers, prospects, and clients. This information is then used to minimize the work of other team members such as invoicing clerks. This is where automation and more especially CRM software will move in. Sales automation via forms shifts the work to the client instead of the employee. Besides, gathering data and payment data within a CRM will prevent double entry by reusing this data at a later stage of the sales process. Workflow Automation Automatically manages approval workflows and routes exceptions for review while maintaining a data trail of all handoffs between people and automation. The objective is to reduce costs and manual data entry with automated processing invoices. A good ERP system should include account payable workflow automation. Payment processing and cash management are recorded as well as early payment discounts. Artificial intelligence can also help to scan with optical character recognition or OCR technology – machine learning AI.
A CRM is a customer relationship management software easing team management, task management, contact management, and invoice management.
Connecting your invoicing tool directly to your CRM, via API or integration, will save valuable time as the invoice management system will directly feed on data coming from the CRM, removing double entries by employees when creating invoices.
This will impact directly time management, data management, and correctness as avoiding human error in data recopy/entry.
2. Generate PDF and store it for bookkeeping
The corner point of an efficient invoice management system is to keep a trail of your financial operations, be it on paper or electronically. Indeed, keeping record ensure payment, secure auditing, and transparency. Having a clear view of your receivables enhances:
- your capacity to send follow-ups and reminders,
- your ease to match auditing requirements, and
- your transparency in front of your customers and governing bodies.
Automation software will do all that for you automatically by saving invoices into PDFs in the relevant folders. You can then access the necessary information at all times, from anywhere.
This is where a complete CRM becomes interesting as the software can save invoices in the relevant contact to which they belong. Additionally, it saves an audit trail in case of accidental invoice removal or deletion.
InvestGlass automation feature enables generating PDF automatically from invoices and storing them where needed. The platform can also send them to an email address or portal for safekeeping or to share with clients.
3. Automated invoice processing software
Within integrated solutions as well as adds-on, forms are a core feature. Indeed, they enable easy data submission and, sometimes, shift the workload to the client. However, when shifting the workload, great care and focus should be put upon client experience and engagement.
Besides being usually filled by the clients forms are also delivering other benefits such as consistency, user-friendliness, and custom designs. Digital form information is directly mapped within the CRM and can be easily reused by your employees’ team, while the custom design and the simplicity of data entry will keep the client engaged.
From these forms, invoices can be automatically generated via an automation feature. The only mandatory information is:
- the currency, which can be selected per default to avoid issues,
- the due date, which can be decided upon digital form submission, and
- the invoice number, which can be generated randomly.
Once this information is filled in, the invoice is generated and can be communicated to clients or prospects.
Using InvestGlass’s automation possibilities, recurring invoices can be set up for long-term clients on a periodic basis such as on a monthly basis. This helps in avoiding errors and forgetting to send them. Yet, this also prevents retyping the information. The time period, as well as recurrence, can be decided manually for each client.
This automation has an important effect on accounting and budgeting. Forecasting the cash flow and keeping a healthy cash flow has never been that easy.
4. Automatically send emails
Sending an invoice when generated may seem like an easy and straightforward task. Yet, human error exists and time consumption has to be considered.
This repetitive task can be easily avoided and automated by creating and sending emails automatically upon invoice generation. Your employees can automatically generate and create an invoices-based email with customizing variables using the contact information. Yet, the email body and subject have still to be specified using a pre-made or customized template.
Once the email is sent using information from the accounting software, the relationship manager in charge of the relevant contact will receive instant notifications.
5. Set up tasks and reminders
Emails ensure that accurate invoices are received promptly. Automation can be created to send automatic reminders to avoid late payments. Whenever a payment is not paid, an automatic reminder may be sent, instead of manually creating and executing a late payment workflow.
Besides sending automatic reminders per email to the clients, reminders can also be notified to company members. This enables them to check with the customer whether everything is fine on their end.
Invoicing tasks can also be automatically recorded upon invoice generation and completed once the invoice is paid. Admin tasks and other tasks are simply notified to the employee.
This type of automation is important as unpaid invoices can negatively affect your cash flow.
Bonus: The perfect Invoice management system
The ideal invoice management system would regroup all your invoicing tools and sales tools in general. CRMs and all-in-one solutions regroup invoicing systems and sales marketing automation/data management offering the best alternative to companies aiming at invoice automation.
InvestGlass can be applied to your entire company and help to monitor your employees’ performance via time tracking. This is increasingly important for invoicing as the response time can be assessed and the workflow adapted.
At the same time, while improving your invoicing, a CRM will replace your google sheets or your google spreadsheet used to manage to send invoices. Send invoices simply and add business tips and discounts when necessary.
Conclusion of invoice automation solution
Automating invoices is an important part of the accounting process and doesn’t need to get in the way. At the end of the day, business is about providing services and products for your customers. We hope the tips will help you focus on what matters most. To automate, you’ll have to keep an eye out for details about how to work around your accounting. InvestGlass offers a cloud-based platform that automates workflows. You can build custom workflows fit invoice management. This solution will help your finance team do more important tasks.
InvestGlass has an API to connect to another accounting system. Why? because processing workflow should handle recurring billing and specific VAT elements you might already have with your accounting team.