I have been recently looking around all over the net for an automated invoicing system. I’m very well know for not keeping accurate accounting and client details etc… my accountant gets so frustrated when he has to manage my tax stuff at the end of the year!
At first I was looking for a PHP software that I can install on my server. I actually tried quite a few, and managed to come to a conclusion on a final decision to go use the Clientexec application. Installation wasn’t so straightforward, in-fact at the end I just gave up, and asked my web host guys to do it for me. It required messing up with some php.ini files to install ioncube loaders (way too complicated for me). Once the software was up and running, I couldn’t really figure out everything, and after a few days I just scrapped the thing off.
Started looking around again for a remote hosted solution; basically an online invoicing service. And a after a few minutes of looking around, I bumped into zoho.com. They offer a whole suite of services, and the online invoicing was one of their services. I went ahead to register for a free account and I fell in love with it in the first couple of minutes!
Setup was extremely easy, and it guides you step by step, some very basic users would probably not understand the e-mail section since it requires the basic understanding of variables in the email templates (just like the Microsoft Office Mail Merge options) but for me it was incredibly easy. You can upload company logos to customize the invoice and also there are several templates you can use for the invoice styles – a very basic but very useful feature.
I started inputting client details (that actually reminded me to try to update them all with the latest details) and I started setting up scheduled invoices for all my client’s domains and hosting accounts. The process was extremely easy. One major feature that would save you tons of time was the recurring profiles. It allows you to schedule daily, monthly, or yearly invoices so the software would send an invoice automatically so you don’t have to take care of renewals. It also integrates with paypal and some other merchant services, so you can even automatically process online payments. For clients that prefer other payment methods, you can also just input the payment details when a payment arrives, and the client is automatically informed that a payment has been processed.
A very important feature for me is data backup. At first I didn’t find any information on that, however using the built in feedback facility in the website, I got in touch with support, and I got the info needed within less than a day, they assured me that all data is backed up very frequently, and that there is an exporting feature that allows you to backup the data locally if needed. That gives you an extra piece of mind!
Other great features include the ability to store customer details, extensive reporting features, and also automatic reminders for due invoices – very handy indeed!
I applied for a paid account after only about 1 hr of using it, since I’m absolutely sure that it will work very well for me! So if you are looking around for such a software, just go ahead and give it a try at http://invoice.zoho.com – very highly recommended!