Billing systems for businesses are akin to electricity for consumers: you only notice it when problems arise. Just think how frustrating it is when the power goes out. That’s the exact point when you realize how much you take it for granted!
Many businesses start out small and use rudimentary tools to invoice their customers. This is doable with only a small number of customers, but as your business grows it becomes unmanageable.
The next step might be to purchase billing software or build your own system in-house. But even with all the functions of a pre-existing billing platform (or the ability to develop your own), invoicing can still generate a lot of headaches.
The new billing platform might not have all the flexibility you need, or you might build your own system but not have the resources to update it as your needs change.
Related: Should you build your own invoicing software or buy off-the-shelf?
So how do you know when you’ve outgrown your current billing system? Look for these telltale signs:
You and your staff spending a big chunk of time on manual processes.
Think about how much time you and/or your employees spend on invoicing each week, and what functions you are performing. You might be printing and mailing invoices from your existing system, emailing one-off PDF invoices to customers, or using a billing system with no link to major payment processors.
And what happens when you generate an invoice? Do you have to manually enter and track each subscription plan and send reminders via email or phone calls? Can you and your staff access invoice data easily, or is there a lot of digging involved? All of these activities take time away from your core business functions.
Related: 3 ways online invoicing can make your employees more efficient
Any billing system you use should be configured upfront to limit effort over the long term. These can be small inputs like customizing the system with your logo and brand colors and entering customer billing data. Larger tasks take the form of creating subscriptions and payment plans, entering all your products into a catalog, and setting up automated payment reminders. With the legwork out of the way, extra time spent on billing software will be the exception - not the norm.
Visibility is low for everyone - senior management, employees, and customers.
Low billing visibility can take many forms depending on your business’s specific needs. Employees may need access to a subset of customer invoice data to follow-up on late payments. Customers may want access to current and historical invoices. And senior management probably wants to know how much the business is collecting each month or quarter, what’s outstanding, and how long (on average) it takes to collect.
Whatever the use case, your staff needs access to billing data in a variety of formats in order to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Customers AND employees get frustrated when they don’t have access to the most up-to-date invoicing data when they need it. This makes for a poor customer experience and low employee morale. And management needs accurate figures on liquidity so they can make informed decisions for the business. Without those figures, they’re just guessing.
Your billing system doesn’t communicate well (or at all) with other internal systems.
As your company has grown, you’ve probably realized how important it is for all your business systems to communicate with each other. Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM system) needs to communicate with your fulfillment process, which in turn needs to communicate with your payment processors and your billing platform, which then need to connect with your accounting software. And they all might feed into your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system as one central repository.
Related: What is an ERP system and why would you need one?
But what if your billing platform doesn’t play nice with the other systems, or at all? Without linking up to the other systems, invoicing is left in it’s own silo. And even if it does link up, repeated errors or failed communications can cause you to distrust the data in all systems.
The optimal billing platform for your business provides several stable, frequent ways to communicate with external systems. That means offering an API that your development team can configure on their own AND pre-built integrations that allow you to plug-and-play with specific systems.
If any (or all) of these warning signs fit with your current billing system experience, it’s time to start looking for a new one. Your search should include a complete evaluation of automation, visibility for all user types, and ease of communication with other systems.
To learn how Invoiced addresses all these requirements (and more), request a demotoday.