Creating new client database - what columns would you suggest?
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Sep 8, 2013

G'day everyone

I don't really have a database of all my clients at this time. I just basically search old e-mails whenever I need to find some information about a client. For some clients with weird invoicing requirements, I make a note somewhere, but I don't keep it in a special database. For the most part, I know all of my current clients more or less off by heart (there aren't more than about 30, I think).

But... perhaps it is time that I get organised. I could invest in a program like TO3000 and just enter all the information in it, but I think I could easily keep track of this information in Excel or in a flat-file database. All I need to do, is to figure out what columns to have. In other words, what fields do you think should I create in the records of such a database? I don't want overkill, but I don't want underkill either. For example, I would have a separate field for company name, but I would have the entire company address in a single field and not in ten different fields such as Address1, Address2, PostalCode, City, Suburb etc.

So, what columns would you suggest?

So far, my thinking is:

Client name
Client postal address
Client other contact details (e.g. phone numbers, web site address, global e-mail address)
VAT number (if any)
Type of client (local, EU, non-EU, private)
Invoicing details (including various requirements, as well as "standard" rate, if any)
Payment terms
Path to folder with NDA etc
Names and e-mail addresses of PMs
Other information about the client (e.g. link to their BB entry)

For clients whose PMs often share the workload, I'll just put all PMs' details into a single field, but for clients whose PMs don't share jobs, I'm thinking of treating them as separate clients and creating separate entries for each PM. Not sure about that yet.

Your thoughts?

Samuel


 

Daniela Zambrini  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:50
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
two items Sep 8, 2013

Ciao Samuel!

would you find it useful to add a column withspecific fields (e.g. automotive, medical, IT, etc.)?
And also if they prefer (or provide use of) a specific CAT tool?

Just some brainstorming.. but might just be useful for filtering or for statistics, though.

D.



[Edited at 2013-09-08 20:29 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Daniela Sep 8, 2013

Daniela Zambrini wrote:
Would you find it useful to add a column withspecific fields (e.g. automotive, medical, IT, etc.)?
And also if they prefer (or provide use of) a specific CAT tool?


In my case those two fields would not be useful for the client database, but I can see how it may be useful for other people. Very few of my clients use just one CAT tool, and very few of my clients deal with just one subject field. If I wanted statistics on these issues, it would be better to search my jobs database.


 

J.Kampinga
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:50
Member (2012)
Japanese to English
client source Sep 9, 2013

I think I would add a column to make a note of how I got that specific client, e.g. I'm on their database because I emailed them myself/client found me through proz/client found me through my website/etc. Useful when evaluating what method is worth investing in.

 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:50
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
PMs, payment terms and invoicing Sep 9, 2013

Hi Samuel,

I've often thought about this myself but never managed to set up a system that is workable enough for me to consistently use it to enter and find data. I know that it's one of those things I'll have to find the time for some day though.

I think that you've got it all covered there.
I would be inclined not to create separate entries for different PMs. I don't think this would add value to your database. I don't think the PM is the important thing but rather the entity that is paying you or subcontracting work to you. (I'm talking in this context of course... I'm not saying PMs aren't important).

The question is whether you'll ever need to search for data by PM. I think that if you know which PM you're looking for, you'll know which agency it is because you'll have it on your e-mail. You might want a field that says "usual contacts" and list all the PMs for one agency under the entry for the agency itself.

I think that it might also be useful to colour code the payment terms so let's say an agency pays you in 45 days from the date of invoice and always pays on time, you could have the 45 in green; if they have sometimes paid late but this isn't a regular occurrence, orange, and if they often need chasing, in red. This may help you decide quickly between agencies who are competing with each other for a job at any one time. I always prefer an agency I don't have to chase over one I do but also, if a 45 green were competing with a 30 green, I'd take the 30 green job.

Equally, it might be useful to have a "comments" field because you may want to enter clients you don't actually work with and want to quickly find why i.e. "they were offering half my rate and wouldn't negotiate" or "they have a terrible history of payment practices". This would also save you time checking your e-mail each time an agency contacts you and their name rings a bell but you're not sure why.

Would it also be viable to perhaps have a link to an invoice template for each client?


 

XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:50
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Had one for years Sep 9, 2013

I've had the same system for the past 15 years. It seems to work. Mine is an Excel file. Where mine differs from your list:
1) I don't have their VAT number. That goes on the invoice, which is used as a template for the next job.
2) I don't specify the "type of client". I find that easy enough to remember (or google).
3) I don't keep details of payment terms. As far as I'm concerned the payment terms are my payment terms - 30 days. I don't get too uptight on payment terms. Provided they don't exceed 60 days I'm not fussed.
4) The NDA just goes in the client folder along with a folder for each job.
5) I would have checked their BB entry before accepting a first job from them and then again if I haven't worked for them for a while (6 months+). I wouldn't bother with a link to their BB entry.
6) I have a Comments field for Miscellanea. Significant jobs they offered but that I couldn't take on. Unreasonable requests. General good/bad points.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Lisa Sep 9, 2013

Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:
1) I don't have their VAT number. That goes on the invoice, which is used as a template for the next job.
2) I don't specify the "type of client". I find that easy enough to remember (or google).


I need easy access to the VAT number because of the way my current country's tax web site works. The "type" of client is also useful to me because I can't always remember whether a client is from the EU or not (and I can't always remember which European countries are in the EU and which ones aren't). Some of my clients have similar names but are on different continents, and that means that the taxes they (or rather: I) have pay are different.

Of course the VAT number is also on the invoice. My invoice template system is similar to yours: I simply search my hard drive for the latest previous invoice for that client, and then use it as a template (I don't store my job folders by client but by month). However, I'd like to change that by making a folder specifically for each client, and then put an invoice template for that client into the client folder (along with e.g. contracts that I signed with them).

3) I don't keep details of payment terms. As far as I'm concerned the payment terms are my payment terms - 30 days. I don't get too uptight on payment terms. Provided they don't exceed 60 days I'm not fussed.


I tend to get confused with payments, particularly since my clients pay at many different times. A quick entry in the client spreadsheet would be helpful to me. My invoices all say "pay within 14 days" but putting that (14 days) on the invoice that is a legal requirement hereabouts, and you don't have to enforce it as long as you state it.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Marie-Helene Sep 9, 2013

Marie-Helene Dubois wrote:
I think that it might also be useful to colour code the payment terms so let's say an agency pays you in 45 days from the date of invoice and always pays on time, you could have the 45 in green...


I'm not sure if that alone would be useful, but you've made me think of something else that might be useful, namely a field for [abbreviated] payment history. For example, when and how much. Most of my clients don't pay for individual invoices with individual payments.

This may help you decide quickly between agencies who are competing with each other for a job at any one time. I always prefer an agency I don't have to chase over one I do but also, if a 45 green were competing with a 30 green, I'd take the 30 green job.


I tend to fill my hours on a first come first served basis. I have a limit of 2000 words per client per day, but other than that I fill the hours as they come.

Would it also be viable to perhaps have a link to an invoice template for each client?


A link would be good, but I would have a link to the client folder anyway, and the invoice template would be in the client folder.


 

IrimiConsulting  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 04:50
Member (2006)
English to Swedish
+ ...
I'm using TO3000... Sep 10, 2013

... and have the following information:

Name and postal address
VAT number
My supplier code (if applicable)
Payment terms
Currency
General information (e.g. delivery specifics, invoicing e-mail addresses)
Rate information



I use TO3000 for creating invoices. If I change any of the following:

Name + address,
VAT number,
Supplier code,
Payment terms,
Currency,

all new invoices automatically use the new data.

In addition, I add timestamped logs about e.g. changed payment terms, changed rates, new contact persons and other things that are needed.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:50
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Information about agreements and PMs Sep 10, 2013

Personally I would add a field for the date any framework agreement or NDA was signed with them, along with an embedded PDF file with the actual contracts, so that you have them easily at hand should you want to check the agreement or decided to discontinue the relationship.

Also, since PMs usually move between companies or change names, you might want to keep a little field for comments about PMs, things like whether person A changed her surname to B because of marriage or divorce, whether person C moved to this other agency or comes from this other agency... This kind of information would have done me a lot of good with my long-term customers. I am not good enough at remembering these things along the years.


 

Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:50
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Dates/etc Sep 10, 2013

Hi Samuel and all,
I also have columns with dates when I received project, date when submitted, rate per word/hour, what field the job was, e.g. medical/legal, etc, when payment is due and some notes about the agency so that I will remember-either some special note like "late payment", agency pays by PayPal, or texts are more technical than agency says, any conditions agency puts, so I remember.
I think that is all.


 

564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 04:50
Danish to English
+ ...
Easy solution: Microsoft Outlook Contacts Sep 11, 2013

I aim to keep things as simple as possible including keeping administration down to a minimum. I simply keep all contact details in a separate company Contacts section of Outlook. It has all the relevant fields that I need, and any additional details, e.g. VAT no. or odd payment agreements, simply go in the notes field. And there is room to add a photo of the client, which I quite like. Nice to see a face on each email I receive from a client. icon_smile.gif

As for keeping track of how clients 'behave' in relation to specific orders, I make notes of that in my Orders sheet (Excel).

My clients are all very different, so I don't see a need to compare them based on specific factors, but then that's just my way. icon_biggrin.gif


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
On comparing clients Sep 11, 2013

Gitte Hovedskov, MCIL wrote:
My clients are all very different, so I don't see a need to compare them based on specific factors...


Mine are also quite diverse, but it is nonetheless nice to be able to get overall data of clients and of a period of time of jobs. I can't answer questions like "how many words have you translated" because I don't keep a record of that, but it would have been interesting to me if I did. However, that is not information that I would keep in the "client database" but rather in the "jobs database".

Josephine Cassar wrote:
I also have columns with dates when I received project, date when submitted, rate per word/hour, what field the job was, e.g. medical/legal, etc, when payment is due and...


This is the type of information that I would put in the jobs database, not the client database. My idea with a client database would be something that I would have to update with new information only rarely. What you're describing seems like information that needs to be updated almost daily, and that would fit into my understanding of a jobs database.

Right now I don't have a jobs database either (which is why I lost a great deal of my admin work (and I'm going to have to recreate it) when my hard drive crashed and I didn't back up all my old jobs folders sufficiently). The way I used to keep track of my jobs was via jobs folders -- if a job was invoiced, I'd move the job's folder into another folder, etc. But it has become time for me to keep all of this information in databases and not simply "in folders". I suppose if one thinks hard about this, one could liken it to keeping one's bookkeeping in a shoe box, which works fine, up to a point.


 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Creating new client database - what columns would you suggest?

Advanced search







BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »
TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search