In general billing, invoicing and accounting software referred to the same type of software. Companies tend to market them with different name - sometimes depending on the feature sets they provide. In this article I am considering them as the same software.
Okay, you have decided to use online billing software for your business. You search for “invoicing” or “billing” in the Internet, you find probably more than one hundred web based invoicing software. Which one to choose? It is a daunting task to select right one. You may have look at some of the comparisons analysis done in the some of the blogs. You are still not sure. Let me make it clear – you are not alone. Pretty much every one go through this pain without knowing exactly what they are singing for. So I am not going to write here comparison among available online software rather I am creating a guideline to select online billing software.
1. Are you sure you need billing software?
Since you are reading this blog I am sure you already know you need online billing software. Since billing software term is used so vaguely, it is very important for you to determine what exactly you are looking for. Just to tell you my story – I was initially interested for online invoicing software. Later I realized that some of the online billing software also provides order management. Since our company supplies goods for its customers, it became clear to us that we should choose software which can do the both: invoicing and order management.
2. Depth or coverage?
Ask yourself, do you use the entire features of Microsoft Word? If you ask me, probably I only use 30% of what Word is capable of. And if you ask around you will find similar answers. Only difference is that use cases in my 30% may not be the same in others. This means we are not using all the features software provides. There is a saying in the Software industry, “only 80% of the features are mostly used”.
So when you analyze software, ask yourself what you really want rather than what the software provides. Many software provides a lot of features, but they do not do good job in any single feature. Some software provides very few features but they do good job on what they provide. Here is my prioritization of features set of online billing software:
For example you should be able create Quotes as shown below from the same software:
(I have found almost no use for this feature because most of the customers want quote or invoice through email)
3. How is easy to use software? Is any training required?
Online software typically are cheap. Downside of it is there is a little support from these companies to help you out on how to use the software. But upside is – you may hardly need this help. Most of the online accounting software are user friendly and intuitive to use. But still there are plenty of online software which are comparatively not that easy to use. So best thing is to avoid using those software.
You can do a quick test:
4. What is the cost to switch the vendor?
It is possible that many times as your company grows you may want to use more efficient software then what you have. Also if the online software company go out of business or stop adding new features which are must-have for you then you may have to migrate to another software. Software migration is not an easy task. So first thing you should find out whether you can get the data dump from the company you are inclined use for billing. Most of the company provides this facility. Secondly, you should find out whether the download data are in a common standard. If so then it is easy to migrate those data to another software. If not then it may cost you little bit to import your data to another billing software. At least you should ask whether the company plans to implement a common standard for download data in future.
5. What types of support is available?
Many times you may need immediate support from the Company even if you are not a paying customer. You may have locked yourself out, you may have deleted a customer profile, you may have messed up some of your invoices and would like to resolve those issues immediately. Make sure that you have the ability to contact the support team to resolve those issues.
6. What is the cost to own this software?
I know this is one of the most of important criteria for many of you. Careful – cost of ownership is not always what you pay at the beginning but what you would end up paying in the long run. Look for following:
Once you have done you analysis, next thing you should do it is to play around some of the online billing software. Many of the online software have free license for certain time. When you check around software your objective is to find out whether it satisfies what you are looking for. Only after you are satisfied what you are looking for you should look for extra which you may like to use.
Disclosure: Author uses Datamoto ( http://www.datamoto.com ) for his own billing and accounting. He tried out many online accounting (invoicing or billing) software and decided to stick with Datamoto because it suited him the most.