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Need suggestions for automating invoice procedures
Thread poster: Joanne Parker

Joanne Parker  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:53
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Jan 22, 2004

Following on from the question posted yesterday about organizing file structures, I need some advice about becoming organized myself, in particular with invoicing.

I get my 99.9% of my job offers via email. Unfortunately I'm not disciplined enough to log each job that I take on manually. Lately I've been dragging each email containing a job request to my Outlook calendar, so I know what I've been working on.

At the end of each month, I go through each day in that month and create my invoices based on my Outlook calendar. Obviously, the success of this process depends on my ability to remember to peform this process, so I usually check through all of my emails again, client by client and cross reference this with my filofax that I also use to (manually) make a note of up and coming deadlines.

Obviously this is an extremely time consuming process. Please can you help me save some time at the end of each month and automate this process?

All suggestions gratefully received before the end of the month

Joanne

[Edited at 2004-01-22 14:56]

[Edited at 2004-01-22 14:57]


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blattke
United States
Local time: 01:53
English to Spanish
+ ...
It's a simple process Jan 22, 2004

What you should do, rather than postpone your invoices for the end of the month, is create each one as soon as you've completed the job. How? Well, you should create a template in word, in which all you have to do is "fill in the blank". Works marvels for me and it is 0-time consuming. Hope that helps!

Bryan

Joanne Parker wrote:

Following on from the question posted yesterday about organizing file structures, I need some advice about becoming organized myself, in particular with invoicing.

I get my 99.9% of my job offers via email. Unfortunately I'm not disciplined enough to log each job that I take on manually. Lately I've been dragging each email containing a job request to my Outlook calendar, so I know what I've been working on.

At the end of each month, I go through each day in that month and create my invoices based on my Outlook calendar. Obviously, the success of this process depends on my ability to remember to peform this process, so I usually check through all of my emails again, client by client and cross reference this with my filofax that I also use to (manually) make a note of up and coming deadlines.

Obviously this is an extremely time consuming process. Please can you help me save some time at the end of each month and automate this process?

All suggestions gratefully received before the end of the month

Joanne

[Edited at 2004-01-22 14:56]

[Edited at 2004-01-22 14:57]


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Fernando Toledo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:53
Member (2005)
German to Spanish
T.O.M. Jan 22, 2004

I work with Translation Office Manager
http://www.jovo-soft.de/
It is expensive but, I think the only one.


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Louise Dupont  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:53
English to French
I work in Excel Jan 22, 2004

Excel gives you the opportunity to create an invoice template. I have several folders that I update immediately when something comes up. When I receive a new job I fill in the template (if it is a new client) or copy the last invoice and change the data if the client is already in my database and I name the invoice : Invoice #, name of client and date the job is due: 1112 myclient 2004-01-23.xls and I print and file it in the client's file.
I have 3 folders:
1- Invoices paid
2- Invoices not paid yet
3- Listing of all the invoices by their number including all the info I need: Name of the Company, contact, name of the project or doc, translation due date, invoice #, word count, tariff per word total, currency, payment type(check, Paypal, bank transfer...),date I receive the payment, and fees I have to pay (bank or Paypal fees).
I add an hyperlink to the number of the invoice which get me directly to it when I need to.

When I get the payment I transfer the invoice in the Paid file and fill in the details in my listing.
If you want I can provide the template for my listing...
Good luck!


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jbc
Local time: 06:53
French to English
Agree with Bryan - invoice as you complete each job Jan 22, 2004

I do as Bryan does - invoice as I go along, using a template invoice (or, more usually, finding the last invoice I sent to that client and amending the details to create a new one). I wouldn't dream of waiting till the end of the month to invoice as it merely means I get paid even later.

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Joanne Parker  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:53
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
So far... Jan 22, 2004

so good. I've been doing just the same as everyone else - using Word templates for different clients, printing out the invoices etc and so on. That's not really my problem, perhaps I didn't explain myself clearly enough.

By the way, invoicing on a monthly versus ad hoc basis is a completely discussion that I don't want to get into here - it's been discussed many times before. Whilst I do invoice for larger jobs as they are completed, many of my clients (be they large corporations or small companies) prefer to be invoiced at the end of the month. Some of my clients give me small jobs every other day or so, so it's obviously not practical to invoice on a case-by-case basis.

Basically, my problem is one of organizing myself. Actually, it's a problem of REMEMBERING to organize myself. Ideally what I'm looking for is a way of automatically ensuring that I keep a record of the jobs I accept, and which does not rely on me having to remember to do this.

It's occurred to me that I could use the Rules Wizard in Outlook to do this....I'll work on it and see if any options are available there...

[Edited at 2004-01-22 20:20]


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Fernando Toledo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:53
Member (2005)
German to Spanish
Take a look Jan 22, 2004

I repeat, take a look at T.O.M. it is a complete solution of organizing and invoicing make for translator and agencies.
There is a Video inside his Site.

Practicount is not so complet but also good.
___________________
Basically, my problem is one of organizing myself. Actually, it's a problem of REMEMBERING to organize myself. Ideally what I'm looking for is a way of automatically ensuring that I keep a record of the jobs I accept, and which does not rely on me having to remember to do this.


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 08:53
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
We use the same system Luise mentioned, Jan 22, 2004

all in Excel, only we have one more folder – “unsent”. (the others are "sent" and "templetes") I also strongly advise to create a folder "PO in"
As the job is received, it is written with all details in accountancy file and invoice with job details, but without date, is either created from a template or previous invoice is copied to "unsent" folder and is renamed with the next sequence No. We have found this a fairly foolproof system. Also, it happens that sent invoice still hasn't been moved out of "unsent" folder (we all are only human), but if the invoice has been sent, it always contains date, if date field is empty, we are sure the invoice has not been sent to the client yet. At the end of the month you just have to examine invoices in the “unsent” folder, insert date and send them to clients.

Our file and accountancy system is much more complex (formulas, macroses, etc.) and interlinked than described above, of course, but the part Luise and I described should fairly suffice a freelancer as a starting point. As time goes by, you yourself will see what specific improvements you need.


Regards,

Uldis

[Edited at 2004-01-22 20:02]


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Sandra Alboum  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:53
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Translation Office 3000 Jan 22, 2004

Hi.

I used to be like you. I love using little scraps of paper!

I would recommend Translation Office 3000 (translation3000.com) for you. It's soooo simple, and a steal at the price they charge.

Take care.
Sandra


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Joanne Parker  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:53
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Outlook Jan 22, 2004

Toledo wrote:

I repeat, take a look at T.O.M. it is a complete solution of organizing and invoicing make for translator and agencies.
There is a Video inside his Site.

Practicount is not so complet but also good.



Hi Toledo,

That was the first option that I looked at, as you seemed to understand exactly what it is I'm looking for.

However, I believe I've found a way of doing what I need using existing software - Outlook. Basically, I've set up a rule so that if I reply to one of my clients with ACCEPT in the email subject line, then a copy of that mail will automatically be stored in a new folder. I'll call this folder "Work in progress" or "Jobs accepted this month", thus ensuring a reliable record of those jobs I've taken on, making invoicing much easier.

Perhaps I should have mentioned before that I've tried - and failed - on several occasions to keep records of jobs as and when I complete them!

This method will also keep a record of all the jobs I accept, but won't keep copies of any replies I send to my clients rejecting work.

Admittedly, TOM looks excellent, I don't think I would use all of its features as I have many of them set up already (invoice templates, my accountants provide the financial features and so on). So for me, personally, I don't think I need it but I agree it appears to be a very good product.

For me, I think I've solved my own problem by using Outlook rules and will continue using my existing invoice templates as many of you have said you also do.

I've also been using Outlook's Calendar function for invoice reminders: I keep a copy of the invoices that I send to clients in the calendar. By setting a reminder within 30 days, I am automatically reminded to check that invoices have been paid, and delete the Outlook reminder/send a reminder to the client if they haven't paid. This has been working well so far.

It's always good to find out how other people run their businesses and all your suggestions are much appreciated...


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Ruben Berrozpe  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
About Outlook Jan 22, 2004

Hi Joanne,

I got the same problem as you, as I am getting more and more work and I need to be better organised than I used to, unless I plan to give up my family life (or wife)!

I remember a few years ago I used to work at an Engineering Bureau where I programmed a few Outlook forms for use in the office - basically tracking employees and helping them organize their time; they were easy to build but gave amazing results, really. Now I am thinking of setting a fully tailored-made solution for my day-to-day project management and invoicing using this same approach. With a bit of luck (and work), I might even be able to figure out how to link it with Access and Excel and get the real big thing.

The problem about this is - you already guessed it - time. If you have your ups and downs, you may be able to use the downs to (very slowly) build a nice "application" on your own. If you don't have a minute and you're almost turning down jobs all of the time, you'd better but TOM. Well, that's my advice anyway, FWIW.

Best of luck in your search.

Rb

PS: I believe a new version of TOM is about to be released very soon; it may be worth waiting a few weeks then getting the demo and making your choice then.


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 07:53
French to English
Do you have Microsoft Access? Jan 23, 2004

Hi Joanne.
If you have Access, you can create a database with drop down menus where you create jobs, customers, rates, etc. to choose from and can then send jobs automatically to a monthly invoice.
I am currently working on this (actually, my partner, a real Access whiz is creating the tool for me). If you are interested, I would be happy to share it with you once the tool is finished. Maybe other ProZ have had some experience using Access for record keeping/billing? We are still playing with the formatting, etc. on the final invoice, but so far the tool seems great.
Regards,
Sara


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:53
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Try an article tree manager Jan 23, 2004

Joanne Parker wrote:
Following on from the question posted yesterday about organizing file structures, I need some advice about becoming organized myself, in particular with invoicing.


If you have a little self-discipline, try an article tree manager. It basically allows you to arrange "articles" (pieces of text) in a tree format. It's basic and it may not be exactly what you're looking for, but give it a try.

MyInfo (shareware)
http://www.milenix.com/myinfo.php
Very good, IMHO.

TreePad Lite (freeware)
http://www.treepad.com/treepadfreeware/
Not as user-friendly as MyInfo.


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Ruben Berrozpe  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
Looks great Jan 23, 2004

Sara Freitas-Maltaverne wrote:

We are still playing with the formatting, etc. on the final invoice, but so far the tool seems great.

Sara


Sara, what are you using for invoice templates? I can remember Access was not really powerful for this, and you had to turn to Crystal Reports to get a decent result (that was a few years ago though). It may even be possible to actually use Word for this, since Access-Word interaction is very flexible and works nicely.

Finally, I tend to think that a final product should be able to link to Excel (for accounting tasks) and Outlook (for automated messages, tasks and calendar). Are you looking into this in any way? I am not sure I can program the whole thing at the present time but since it IS possible, I might try.

I don't know if you mean to share this but your approach looks great so I'd love to give it a try and possibly help you with the Outlook part. Please let me know.

Ruben


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xxxNicolette Ri
Local time: 07:53
French to Dutch
+ ...
Print out e-mailed translation confirmations and purchase orders Jan 23, 2004

It's as simple as it is. If the printed page does not contain the price or the deadline, write it down on the page, immediately. At the end of the month you will have 20 or 30 printed pages that will remind you of the work you have done and facilitate invoicing. Besides, it is very dangerous to rely on Outlook: if the software or your hard disk crashes, you will loose everything, not only your work but also your e-mails (this happened to me).

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