Make a good impression with efficient, project-based invoicing

Ryan Plourde
| 8/14/2018
Make a good impression with efficient, project-based invoicing

Most consulting firms focus on improving their clients’ business processes. Unfortunately, some handle project invoicing inefficiently. When a consulting firm’s processes lack efficiency, clients notice.

Consider these four steps toward more accurate and efficient invoicing:

1. Avoid “catch-up” billing

When project consultants don’t keep up with time sheets, initial invoices often are smaller than they should have been. Once the late time gets billed, the subsequent larger invoices can be a shock. Clients do not like unpleasant surprises and are likely to question the charges.

Takeaway: Time should be entered daily and invoiced on a consistent schedule.

2. Avoid incomplete or general descriptions

If project consultants put off entering project time for weeks or even months, it’s likely they will have difficulty remembering the specifics of the work they did. Rather than entering a specific description like “Onsite meeting to discuss development standards,” they might just enter “Meeting.”

Clients likely will object to the lack of detail, because they want to know exactly what they are being billed for. To clear up questions, the client might call the project manager, who then has to follow up with the consultant, who might not remember the details.

Takeaway: Detailed, specific time entries save time later.

3. Avoid project overruns

The project manager shouldn’t have to be a timesheet enforcer. However, he or she is responsible for keeping projects on time and on budget and making sure resources are used properly. If project consultants do not enter billable and nonbillable hours, the project manager cannot measure the services performed against the project budget. Project costs might exceed the agreed-upon budget, which most often leads to client dissatisfaction.

Takeaway: To keep the project on track and the client informed, project managers need full visibility into project status, budget, and milestones.

4. Avoid rounded-up hours

Clients pay for the consultant’s time and expertise. They don’t want to pay for time that has been inflated. “Guesstimating” or rounding up can erode the client’s trust and open the door to closer scrutiny of future invoices.

Consulting firms often use minimum billing increments such as 30 minutes or one hour. A customer who calls for a status update that takes 55 minutes probably would expect to be billed for one hour. Yet billing a client for eight hours in one day – even if the majority of the consultant’s time was spent on billable work – might raise suspicion. The client might question whether their organization was being billed while the consultant was eating lunch, checking unrelated email, or taking unrelated phone calls from other clients.

Takeaway: Clients notice and appreciate detailed invoices that have been reviewed for accuracy and provide a breakdown of the time worked with supporting details.

A positive experience

Consulting firms need to account for consultants’ time, prove the value of that time, and bill appropriately. An important element of efficient project billing is making time entry easy so that busy employees enter time every day. When this administrative task is simple and quick, it is more likely to be done consistently.

With the right tool, time entry can be more punctual and more accurate. The billing process can be easier, invoices can go out on time, and payments can arrive sooner.

A tool to simplify time entry

A core belief at Crowe is that businesses maintain their competitive edge by providing versatile software tools that enable employees to be more productive. Crowe Timesheets is a straightforward and intuitive time-tracking solution that integrates with Microsoft Dynamics 365™ software.

  • The Crowe Timesheets solution simplifies the process of tracking time against clients, tasks, and activities.
  • Its dashboards and reports enable managers to confirm that detailed and accurate descriptions are available to clients.
  • An invoicing module collects project time to help expedite invoicing.
  • Charts and graphs provide visual updates about project status, helping project managers to keep the project on time and on budget.
  • The Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform provides CRM functionality that can help improve the efficiency of project teams and, ultimately, impress customers.

Get more information about Crowe CRM services for Microsoft Dynamics 365 software from Crowe. Have a question or interested in evaluating the CRM functionality in Microsoft Dynamics 365 software? Contact us today.

Microsoft, Microsoft Dynamics, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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Ryan Plourde
Office Managing Principal, Westborough, Microsoft CRM Services Leader