Got three minutes? That's all it will take to pin-down the must-haves when it comes to finding software that supports the professional services billing model.
Professional services billing gets messy. It's just the nature of the beast. There's a lot going on behind that final dollar figure on the invoice.
What did we think it would cost? What did we quote? What expenses came up? What were the contracted terms? Who worked on this? On what days? For how long? What's their billing rate again?
Most billing programs just don't have the smarts to keep up with that kind of complexity.
That's not be a problem if you're selling tangible stuff. In that case, it's just a matter of figuring out how many products you sold and at what price.
But that's not how time and expense service billing works. When you're billing for services, it's more complex.
The good news is quite a few programs support the full billing process from estimation through revenue collection. Buyers just need to be able to tell the difference between the contenders and pretenders. That means the first step is making sure the software feature set is complete.
|Phase||Module||What to look for|
|Cost projection||Estimating||Estimating software that provides a systematic structure to project costs should be flexible enough to allow for custom calculations depending on the type of work performed.|
|Proposal||Sales quote||Sales quote software should support all required pricing models (cost plus, time & expense, flat fee, value-based) and management controls to ensure that required supporting documentation is provided to clients with all quotations.|
|Negotiation and agreement||Contract management||Standard contract management functionalities such as templating, versioning, and audit trails are important but advanced systems will add support for electronic signature capture and custom workflow and approvals management.|
|Time collection||Timesheet||Ease of use and accessibility is paramount to ensure that on-the-go professionals can accurately and easily record time. Intuitive web-based & mobile-friendly apps that make it simple to assign time to the right client, project, and billing rate are a must.|
|Expense reporting||Expense reporting||Describing costs as "incidental" doesn't mean they're unexpected. Having a systematic way to capture travel, equipment, food, or other billable costs is an important part of protecting the profit margin on services work.|
|Job cost calculation||Project accounting||A project accounting or job cost module should not only allow for the capture and classification of all billable costs, but provide a means to analyze project profitability and identify the root of overruns.|
|Invoicing||Invoicing||An invoice needs to satisfy three objectives: It should be clear, complete, and accurate. Integration that allows collected costs to be converted into billing line items without re-entering data will help accomplish all three invoicing goals in the minimum amount of time.|
|Revenue collection||Accounts receivable||It would be great if every client paid on-time. Since that's not always, it's important to make sure that AR features help automatically update late-payments, offers alert & notifications, and create collection letters.|