How To Choose The Right Small Business Billing Software

How to​ Choose the​ Right Small Business Billing Software
If you​ own or​ manage a​ small business,​ you​ know how much time can be spent chasing down paper invoices,​ purchase orders and sales reports .​
It can be a​ real nightmare! That is​ where billing software comes in​ .​
It allows you​ to​ record all your customers,​ sales,​ invoices,​ inventory,​ suppliers (and more) in​ a​ PC-based system that is​ easy to​ use.
Deciding that you​ need to​ invest in​ good quality billing software is​ not hard .​
The tricky part can be choosing the​ right software package for your requirements .​
There are dozens of​ systems on​ the​ market claiming to​ be the​ holy grail of​ all your business problems,​ but choosing the​ wrong one can cost you​ valuable time and money.
Here's a​ simple checklist of​ 11 things to​ look for when purchasing billing software for your small business:
1) Customer records
This is​ the​ core element of​ any billing system .​
What sort of​ information do you​ need to​ record about your customers? There's the​ obvious things like address,​ phone,​ fax,​ mobile,​ email and web address .​
But what about marketing-related information like how did the​ customer find out about your business?,​ and standard discounts for key clients.
2) Multiple contacts & Communication history
If many of​ your clients are businesses with multiple contacts,​ can you​ record individual contact details for each person? Word of​ mouth is​ the​ most powerful form of​ advertising,​ and statistics show that one of​ the​ most important factors in​ customer satisfaction is​ good customer service .​
Have you​ thought about keeping a​ log of​ all communication with your customers? It can be extremely helpful for improving internal communication within your business,​ and results in​ a​ more personalised service for your clients.
3) Multiple shipments
Obviously your billing software will need to​ create sales orders - that's a​ gimme .​
But do you​ need to​ record employee-related information,​ like who the​ salesperson was? What about flexible dispatch options,​ like multiple shipments per sales order?
4) Search facility
There's no point recording all this really useful information if​ there's no easy way to​ get to​ it .​
Check that the​ search facility is​ flexible and easy to​ use .​
What criteria can you​ search by? Here are a​ couple useful fields you​ may want to​ use: customer phone number,​ customer address,​ order date,​ dispatch date and dispatch consignment number.
5) Tax & regional support
Are you​ able to​ change the​ tax rates on​ an​ order line basis? What about currency formatting? If you​ and your clients are in​ Europe,​ then there's no point using billing software that can only handle US dollars.
6) Reporting
Producing accurate reports in​ seconds is​ something you​ no longer have to​ dream about .​
In fact it​ is​ a​ necessity in​ today's competitive market .​
Ensure your billing software can calculate information on​ sales based on​ date,​ salesperson and customer type .​
If you​ operate a​ B2B business,​ another key performance indicator may be dispatch totals,​ based on​ date,​ and employee .​
But one important thing to​ remember about software.. .​
you can only get out what you​ put in​ .​
So if​ you​ are looking for a​ specific report,​ make sure that information is​ being recorded by your billing software package.
7) Backup
I've seen first-hand how devastating a​ hardware failure can be .​
Hundreds of​ thousands of​ dollars worth of​ data can be destroyed in​ seconds.. .​
if​ you​ do not have a​ backup procedure in​ place .​
Ensure you​ select a​ billing software package that has a​ built-in backup utility or​ works with your current backup system.
8) Online help & support
If you're a​ new computer user,​ then you'll definitely need a​ software package that has a​ comprehensive online and easy-to-use help system .​
Also check out what direct technical support is​ available through the​ vendor .​
Some software companies charge very high fees for personal support,​ so ensure you​ include this in​ your budget.
9) Budget
How much are you​ going to​ spend? That really depends on​ the​ complexity of​ the​ software package you​ are looking for .​
Smaller software packages can be found under US$100,​ and larger more complex packages can cost well over US$3000 .​
Take a​ look at​ the​ number of​ customers you​ have,​ the​ number of​ sales orders you​ process,​ and choose a​ solution that fits your business.
10) Customisations
If you​ purchase an​ off-the-shelf billing software package,​ you​ may require minor customisations to​ suit your unique business processes and industry .​
Some software vendors offer customisations at​ quite reasonable prices .​
But ensure you​ include this cost in​ your budget.
11) Other features
What else do you​ want from you​ billing software? If you​ deal with fixed price products,​ you​ may need a​ comprehensive inventory management system allowing you​ to​ purchase stock,​ manage inventory levels and supplier relations .​
Some quality software packages also include a​ useful follow-up diary,​ allowing you​ to​ keep track of​ tasks and assign them to​ other staff members.
When choosing a​ billing software package for your business,​ make sure you​ check that it​ offers everything your business needs .​
And then the​ only thing you'll have to​ worry about is​ what to​ do with all your newly found spare time!

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