Automated and intuitive billing system software will streamline your administrative invoicing operations while also collecting important business data about your customers. When customer relationship information (CRM) or QuickBooks accounting software is integrated with the best invoice app, business owners have the power to pull together analytical reports that can show you deficiencies in your operations. 

The right invoice billing software should be able to do just that - generate reports that show how much work in progress (WIP) you are invoicing and how much money you are owed for work completed that still needs to be paid for. Many business owners think that billing system software is only for tracking the services you've delivered and to automatically generate and send out invoices.

While this is the most basic description of invoice billing software, the best invoice app will go a step further. Consultants like architects, accountants, lawyers, financial managers, engineers, IT experts, and creative professionals like graphic design artists and website developers may all have various ways to get paid for the services they perform.

Many attorneys will charge clients with an initial retainer fee followed by other agreed upon amounts due at a specific time. Other small business owners will bill clients depending on the service delivered, which is common in service industries like auto repair shops or salons and spas. Finally, there are the consultants that bill by the hour, which engineers, accountants, designers, and many other professionals typically prefer.

This means that offline billing software should be flexible enough to automate any of these billing models, while also being intuitive. The best invoice app will feature an intuitive interface, meaning it will exhibit the following user experience features:

  • The software interface should be friendly and easy to navigate between options.
  • Most functions should be accessible from a main menu, and not buried under multiple menus.
  • The entire system should have a clear architectural hierarchy with obvious drill-downs to detailed features.
  • The applications should know what your next process should be, and present those options organically.

Intuitive billing system software with these features are more likely to be used, and the end-user is more likely to take advantage of more advanced software features as opposed to giving up on the program because it is simply too burdensome to use.

Billing System Software for Small Business

Small business accounting is critical to the success of your business. Actually, many SMBs (small- to medium-sized businesses) admit failure due to a lack of good accounting. This includes staying on top of accounts payable or the money you owe to keep your business running, and accounts receivable, the money owed to you by your clients. The best billing system software for small business owners

If you own a service-based business, you will likely depend on either cash, credit, or online payment solutions to collect money owed for services rendered. Additionally, even a simple billing software for small business should also automatically handle tax information, create and send out client receipts, along with the tracking of non-direct expenses. Expense accounts include overhead expenses like travel, food, gasoline, lodging, and sometimes equipment.

With so many billing options, you may wonder how many types of invoice or billing templates are there? Here are some types of invoices that can be created in a billing system software for small business:

  • Recurring invoice is used to charge for ongoing services and may be the same amount such as with a membership or subscription type business model.
  • Pro forma invoice will show the client the entire amount that is due when the project is completed and is similar to a contract or bill-of-sales.
  • Interim invoices will break down large projects into multiple payments, which is common for consultants like engineers and architects.
  • Miscellaneous invoices may not follow a standard invoice format but is used to bill the client for miscellaneous services or expenses.
  • Past due invoice is a reminder to the customer that they have an unpaid amount due for services performed or purchases made.
  • Final invoice is sent out at the end of a project and also serves as a notice that the project is complete.

All types of billing systems should allow you to create these different types of invoices, making your business look professional and efficient.

Simple Billing Software

There are 3 basic functions that even simple billing software should allow the user to perform. Those are setting up and sending an estimate of charges for a project, creating an invoice for services performed and accepting the payment, and to automatically generate a customer receipt once the funds have been received and verified.

Here we will examine 3 types of billing systems that should be considered for any small business, including stand-alone, bundled, and cloud-based types of billing system.

Stand-alone simple invoice software

These fully functional and simple billing software apps are a good start for a small business owner who wants to eliminate the burden of inputting and formatting billing data using an Excel spreadsheet or other outdated billing app. The most simple billing software will be affordable and provide different invoice templates that will have users up and running in a short time.

Even stand-alone types of billing system software will allow you to access invoices on a mobile device. So, even while in the field or in your client's office, you can quickly create and send out an invoice.

Bundled project management software

The next step is to consider a bundled accounting and project management software package such as that offered by BigTime which allows you to plan, budget, and bill the project all from one convenient location. These apps include many exceptional project management and billing tools like employee time tracking, project timeline tools like Gantt charts, workflow management, and project billing.

Cloud-based types of billing system

A cloud-based billing system is perfect when employees are at various locations and need to capture client time and expenses while in the field. Since all your client billing information is stored in the cloud, you can access the information via smart phone, laptop, desktop, or tablet. Also, cloud-based software are the best solution when you want to make sure you never lose any data, because these systems have automatic backup and restore features.

Billing System Software Price

Most developers of billing software for PC realize that a small business will need fewer features and options, while an enterprise-type corporation will be okay with paying a higher billing system software price because they will take advantage of many higher level automation features. So, they offer different types of invoices with examples from multiple tiers of service.

For example, BigTime offers 3 billing system software price points to the benefit of their customers, both large and small. Like many companies, BigTime offers the 3 levels at a price per user, which is billed annually. As a business owner, you can choose which plan is right for you instead of taking on a software that has more features than you or your team will ever use.

A smaller business with 5 or fewer employees may opt for the EXPRESS Plan at $10 per month, per user, at the writing of this article. This includes the basic invoicing needs such as time tracking and QuickBooks Integration. The PRO level is still reasonably priced at $30 per month. But it will include more features, such as a client portal, payment processing, expense tracking and some project management tools.

The PREMIER level comes with all the bells and whistles and is a complete project management and project budgeting and invoicing bundle. At only $40 per month, per user, this app offers Multi-Level Approval Workflow and extensive analytical reporting and business intelligence tools.

As a business owner, you can start with the express package and as your business expands, you can easily choose to move to a higher level plan without any worries about data syncing and integration. It only makes sense for a small business to choose a company that will grow with them as they move into new territories, expand their service offerings, and take on more projects and hire more employees.

Billing System Software Free

When choosing a billing software for PC, not only will you want to have access to different types of invoices with examples, you will also want a free trial period to test drive the billing system. Companies like BigTime offer free trial periods to demonstrate to potential customers how the invoicing app can help them. Committing to a software platform can be scary, because once you buy in and take the time to train other users on the invoicing app, you don't want to turn back and lose the time and cost you've spent.

You may already have Excel spreadsheets or templates that you've created and consider as free billing software. But, Excel is a generic spreadsheet app that doesn't address the way consultants and professionals really work. And, unless you are an Excel expert or a software developer, there is no way you can get Excel or any billing software free to automate many tasks that must be done manually in Excel.

Other reasons to shy away from open-source billing system software free is that these program will often lack good security and privacy features, leaving your sensitive customer and financial data vulnerable. And, free billing software will eventually stop being supported by the developers as they have used the free version of software only to test drive a system that they will use as a subscription software business.

Don't take the chance of trusting your most important business information to a free invoice billing app, that may have hidden software bugs. These untested apps can cause unstable application functioning or you may experience frequent program crashing.