Are you using an automated invoice processing system? They’re transforming field service businesses across the UK. After all, think about it: does invoicing ever end?
True, invoices are rarely ever a bad thing themselves: they lead to you getting paid, which means you can buy the equipment you need, pay your staff, and generally keep your business ticking over to grow!
For all the good invoicing brings, though, it doesn’t necessarily stop it from being a time-consuming process, and yes: that can still happen, even when you’ve got great software to support you!
Like most things, there are few one-and-done solutions that’ll make invoicing easy, forever. What may have been the best solution a few years ago can eventually become bogged down with inefficiencies that slow productivity, waste money, and even stunt growth.
However, rather than it being the fault of the software itself or the people using the tool, such trouble is more likely the result of new demands put upon your business. That means it could be time for an upgrade.
Let’s take a look at how an automated invoice processing system can help solve those problems:
1. Do you need a variety of invoicing tools for every occasion?
Think of introducing automation like this:
You’re renovating your garden (stick with me here) and want to create some new flowerbeds. Using a shovel and trowel, you can quite easily get this job done.
Later, however, you decide that you actually want to renovate the entire garden, right down to the grassroots. You’d be forgiven for not wanting to use those smaller tools to do this monumental work because to do it well you’ll need a machine to save you from backbreaking work!
Obtuse as it may seem, that example is helpful to consider when it comes to improving your invoicing strategy.
After all, even if the tasks you’re wanting to do are the same (i.e. you’ll always be sending invoices to your customers and suppliers) you want to be sure you have the best tools to manage volume so that your business can work as efficiently as possible, even as the scale of the task grows.
It’s a case of working smarter, not harder!
Whether it’s due to an uptake in the number of engineers you’ve hired, or the amount of jobs each of them is capable of completing in a single day, the total number of invoices your team takes care of will go up over time, and so will the other administrative tasks they take care of, too.
If we return to the gardening analogy for a moment: this means that once you’ve done your landscaping, you’ll likely turn back to the trusty spade and trowel so you can tackle the smaller, more delicate tasks, and tend to each flowerbed with precision.
That’s my way of saying you should think about the tools you have and the new tools you need to help complement all your needs!
2. Will automation make invoicing easier?
You may have found yourself in this position already: with concern rising as you realise that productivity has slowed down and that your teams appear fatigued.
On closer inspection, it’s not that they’re incapable of doing their job, it’s that they’re overwhelmed because the tools they use aren’t appropriate for the volume of work they’re handling.
Success may be great, but not if your staff are hindered from managing it well.
Automation can help to solve this problem.
Or, more specifically: an automated invoice processing system.
An automated invoice processing system might sound like a mouthful, but through automated invoicing, the goal is to make it more straightforward and it’s where your job management software can help oversee invoicing tasks for your team.
That’s not to say that tools you were using become obsolete, though.
This means your invoice portal—where customers access a digital space to securely pay you—can keep on working wonders. And for consolidated invoicing—which groups together multiple invoices into a single, easy-to-digest entity—it will continue to be fantastic at simplifying bulk payments.
However, what automation adds on top through your software is that it takes the strain away from your team, letting them do more of the same work, but faster, more efficiently, and with the confidence that invoices are fulfilled accurately!
An automated invoice processing system could, in theory, go on to eliminate manual admin tasks, but the reality is more likely to reduce the manual steps required so that managing invoicing becomes an absolute breeze, streamlined by automated workflows.
Or, as our very own CEO, Jason Morjaria, puts it:
“Automation creates consistency; if something is automated in your business it means it’s done every time, without fail. You’re not relying on a person to do something (or forgetting to do something). You also know it’s done in a particular way, every time.”
That sense of consistency adds security and we’d argue that this is one of the best reasons for making use of automation—and not only when it comes to an invoice processing system—automation can help prevent your staff from getting overwhelmed by ensuring that inefficient processes won’t harm your business.
The alternative, particularly if you continue to pursue business growth without the right tools to support your teams, could be:
A breakdown in customer relationships (who are frustrated by delays)
Irritated staff (who are overworked or left bored)
A high risk of leaving money on the table (and how will you grow if you’re not getting paid?)
However, with automated invoicing and automation tools supporting other administrative tasks. Instead, you’ll see that you can:
Deliver peace of mind to your customers and suppliers
Create happier colleagues who can do more interesting work
Improve cash flow across the business
This is all because you’re ensuring that accurate invoices are created, sent, and filed precisely when they’re needed.
3. Does automation help your business grow?
Deciding that you may need to change the way your business operates when it comes to invoicing (especially if it means spending money) can be tricky.
It’s understandable if you’re not yet convinced. Besides, you may be coping well with the tools you already have in place and wonder what the point is: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix”, right?
However, even if tasks seem to be running like clockwork at the moment (i.e. your teams know the prices for each and every job and your engineers, admins, and finance managers can easily create, compile, and send invoices already) that doesn’t mean you can’t—or shouldn’t—look ahead, right?
After all, if you’re already close to working to capacity and contemplating bringing in new hires to support you, it makes sense that you’d want their induction and training to be as easy as possible, doesn’t it? On the other hand, what if people leave and have to be replaced?
New-starters can always expect a learning curve whenever they settle in somewhere new, and whether your company is newly paperless or a fully digital business, if your processes are streamlined, then both new and current employees—whether engineers or admins—will have a much easier time, with everyone managing growth more easily.
4. What do Commusoft’s customers say?
Software tools are proving time and time again to be a cost-effective way of enabling and empowering your staff to do more because of how it simplifies their workload and limits the need to have to hire loads of people, just to cope:
As you can see from Phil Mulvena’s comments, in practice, tools can make a significant impact on productivity in a massive way, letting fewer people achieve a great deal more!
It’s because of tools like automated invoicing software that you can streamline the way your staff work. When it comes to training new staff, it’s easier because tools are intuitive and there’s less risk in relying on memory alone.
Ask yourself: do engineers need to learn all the specific pricing variations for every job as soon as possible? You might say yes, but with automation, they still can learn these details, but they can also create mistake-free invoices that help them get the numbers right and even help experienced engineers not to forget.
Let’s explain that a little: that’s because, with an automated invoice processing system, you can simply configure the software “rules” and set pricing for your automated invoicing system to take care of all those details for you!
With Commusoft, as an example, you can customise the default pricing by job type and go on to invoice certain jobs automatically.
Is an engineer going to do boiler installation? Great! They can select that option and the system prices it correctly. You can even decide whether a job is charged by a flat fee, or by labour and materials, too.
With default pricing items, advanced labour rates, and price books, you have a wealth of automatic invoicing options available so every engineer and staff member applies the right figures, to the right job, for the right customer, every time.
For your current employees, as mentioned, the same benefit applies.
We mentioned before that those repetitive tasks could cause them to get fatigued, or even lazy, and who could blame them for having to repeat a mundane process over and over again?
While it’s great to know your staff are equipped with the knowledge needed to invoice correctly, using automation to help to invoice can prevent them from wasting brainpower, ensure they get the numbers right, and even apply their newfound time to discover new skills!
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Hi! I'm Rhys Pattimore
I'm eager to share great stories, advice, and tips that can help inspire and motivate field service businesses to find success. It's that, or I'm hunting down the best bagel recipe I can get my hands on!