Editor’s note: In this article, Tanya focuses on invoice automation as the way to streamline billing at organizations with both typical and unique invoicing needs. She explores pros and cons of three options for web-based invoicing software, including custom and ready-made solutions, as well as customization of existing software. If you need more information on which option to choose for your organization, feel free to turn to ScienceSoft’, a provider of custom software development services, for professional advice.
If your transactions are slowed down due to such billing issues as late submission of invoices, sending them to wrong people by mistake or even multiple errors in them, it’s high time for you to opt for invoice automation.
My experience proves that web-based invoicing software can help you handle these challenges with automated reminders, workflows and error checks that enable fast, accurate and continuous cash flow at your organization. In addition, digital invoicing allows reducing operational costs as it saves around $16 per invoice.
When customers turn to ScienceSoft for help in overcoming challenges in invoice management, our business analysts map their needs to the main viable invoicing automation options. They offer customers levering invoice automation through customization of software currently used in a company, buy a ready-made one, or develop a custom solution. Let’s walk through the considerations ScienceSoft’s BA experts usually take into account when recommending customers any of the options.
Customization of currently used software
Probably, your organization already uses some financial management solution for accounting, inventory, expense management or tax compliance. If this system is flexible enough to allow enriching it with invoice management capabilities that will meet your business needs (e.g., automated invoice creation triggered by a particular event) via customization, I suggest you consider it as your best choice. If you opt for customization, you don’t need to search and buy other software. Besides, your employees will adopt new capabilities quite soon as the source system will be familiar to them.
However, much depends on the kind of software you have. For example, if the core of your company’s digital environment is a complex ERP system like SAP or Oracle EBS, customization can be impractical due to significant efforts, long duration and high costs.
If you need basic invoicing features like invoice templates, automated reminders, recurrent payments and reporting, you certainly may opt for a ready-made web-based billing solution as the majority of them offer such functionality. With ready-made invoicing software, you can start using your tool immediately. What’s more, ready-made solutions benefit from inherent user-friendliness resulting from adoption by multiple customers.
However, I should warn you that due to having mostly typical functionality, ready-made tools can’t handle unique invoicing processes effectively. This is usually common to enterprises that need to handle invoicing for diverse groups of customers differently, depending on their language, relevant compliance regulations and suitable payment models (e.g., one customer pays in installments and another combines one-time and recurrent payments). I recall another example of specific invoicing needs in one of ScienceSoft’s projects. There, I helped a customer who wanted their invoicing to attend to special rates, discounts, premiums and fees, annual limits, limits for selected activity or employee, and more. Surely, in such a case, I recommended custom development as ready-made solutions couldn’t meet the customer’s needs.
Another point to take into account when considering ready-made solutions is that they can be more expensive than the custom and customized ones. To prove the idea, I can give you an example of one of our customers who used a billing-as-a-service solution but decided to develop a custom solution instead. According to their estimates, continuous use of their current solution would turn out to be much costlier.
I believe the main reason for companies to opt for custom invoicing software is that it can fully meet their business needs. For example, in one of our projects, the customer needed a solution that could generate invoices containing a discount amount along with a total amount in PDF format and share an online link for payment. And ScienceSoft addressed the customer’s needs by building a custom invoicing solution using Django, a Python framework. In another project, ScienceSoft helped a customer to achieve the much-needed speed in invoice management with a solution that reduced the time of processing 1,000 invoices from the whole day to 20 minutes.
Custom solutions are scalable due to modular architecture, which allows extending a solution’s functionality continuously when needed. A custom invoicing solution is also flexible and integrates well with other enterprise systems like CRM, ERP, a financial management system, a contract management system, and more.
If you opt for a custom invoicing solution with advanced functionality like custom calculations or non-linear workflows, such development and user adoption may require considerable time and technical skills.
Make an informed decision
Your final choice of invoicing software depends on many factors, such as differences in payment conditions for various types of customers or functionality and customizability of software you already use in your company. If your current financial solution allows customization to the extent you need for invoicing, I recommend you to opt for it. If you have typical invoicing needs, a ready-made solution can become your best choice. But if you have more complex requirements for invoicing software, I advise looking closely at custom invoicing software.
If you are not sure what path to take, feel free to consult ScienceSoft’s experts, who will be glad to conduct a feasibility study of your case and advise on an optimal solution.