If you own or manage a small business, you know how long it can take to track down paper invoices, purchase orders and sales records. It can be a real nightmare! That’s where the billing software comes from. It allows you to record your customers, sales, invoices, inventory, suppliers (and much more) in a computer-based system that is easy to use.
It’s not hard to decide if you should invest in a good quality billing software. The tricky part is to choose the right software package for your needs. There are dozens of systems on the market that claim to be the holy grail of all your business problems, but choosing the wrong one can cost you time and money.
Here’s a simple checklist of 11 things to look for when buying billing software for your small business:
1) Consumer Reports
This is the core of any billing system. What information do you need to report your customers? There are obvious things like address, phone, fax, mobile, email and web address. But marketing-related information “How did the customer know about your business?” And what about “standard discounts” for key clients?
2) Multiple Contacts and Communication History
If most of your clients are multi-link businesses, can you record individual contact information for each person? In a literal sense, advertising is the most important factor in customer satisfaction. Have you thought about keeping a log of all communication with your customers? It will greatly enhance internal communication within your business and provide a more personalized service for your customers.
3) Multiple shipping
Obviously your billing software will require you to create sales orders – it’s an exercise. Do you want to report employee related information, such as who the “vendor” is? How about flexible shipping options such as multiple shipping to a sales order?
4) Search facility
There is no point in recording all this useful information unless there is an easy way to get it. Check whether the search feature is flexible and easy to use. What criteria can you look for? Here are some useful areas you need to use: customer phone number, customer address, order date, departure date and shipment number.
5) Tax and regional support
Are you able to change tax rates on an order line basis? What about money formatting? If you and your clients are in Europe, using billing software that can handle only US dollars is useless.
You don’t have to dream anymore to make accurate reports in a few seconds. In fact, it is a necessity in today’s competitive market. Make sure your billing software can calculate sales information based on the date, seller, and customer type. If you are running a B2B business, another key performance indicator is the sum sent by date and employee. But one important thing to keep in mind about software is … you can only get what you put in. So if you are looking for a specific report, make sure the information is recorded in your billing software package.
I first saw how devastating a hardware failure can be. Billions of dollars’ worth of data can be destroyed in a few seconds … unless you have a backup procedure. Be sure to choose a billing software package that has a built-in backup utility or works with your current backup system.
8) Online Help and Support
If you are a new computer user, you definitely need a software package that has an extensive Internet and easy-to-use support system. See what direct technical support is available through the vendor. Some software companies charge very high rates for personal support, so be sure to include this in your budget.
How much are you going to spend? It really depends on the complexity of the software package you are looking for. Smaller software packages can be found for under $ 100, while larger, more complex packages can cost upwards of $ 3,000. Select the number of customers you have, the number of sales orders you have and the solution that best fits your business.
If you buy an inactive billing software package, you may need small customizations to suit your unique business processes and industry. Some software vendors offer customizations at fairly reasonable prices. But be sure to include these costs in your budget.
11) Other features
What more do you need from billing software? If you are dealing with fixed price products, you may need an extensive inventory management system that allows you to buy stock, manage inventory levels, and contact suppliers. Some quality software packages include a useful follow-up diary that allows you to keep track of tasks and assign them to other staff members.