All of these tools will help you create invoices, retrieve and track overdue invoices. Some companies, such as ZenCash, also offer a managed service with accounts receivable assistance.
- Generate and send invoices: For ease of communication with clients, choose a tool that can easily generate invoices in different file formats (PDF or HTML is best), and automatically email to the client.
- Branding and customisation: For professional-looking documents, you may want to make your invoices, estimates and billing statements fit in with your brand. At a minimum, you will want to include your logo, however many vendors include far more advanced customisation options.
- Integration with payment system: To minimise your time and effort, look for a tool which automates the payment of invoices. Most tools will integrate with common online payment systems - like Paypal, Google checkout and Authorize.net.
- Reporting and analysis: To minimise unpaid invoices, most systems have the ability to report on ageing invoices, or delinquent clients and clients that are in good credit standing.
- Integration with other systems: Look for tools that have pre-built integrations with your CRM, accounting, sales management and/or project management tools. For more advanced uses, you might prefer to build your own interface - in which case, look for a comprehensive and well-documented set of APIs.
A note on Customer Relationship Management
You may already have a customer relationship management (CRM) system, and I highly recommend you find a tool that integrates to keep client lists, addresses and other information up-to-date.
If you don’t have a CRM solution, look for a with client management functionality. At a minimum, look for functionality to manage a list of all your clients and all the information you need for invoicing. Some applications have a more advanced client management module – they offer custom fields for client records, tracking interaction, client portals and related reports.