Invoices are at the heart of most business relationships. Sending a client a summary of services, goods, hours or anything else is so commonplace, it seems indispensible. Yet invoicing is a convention, not a necessity. Perhaps it served its orginal purpose for one-time services or transactions, but for many purposes today - especially between long-running business relationships - it’s cumbersome, repetitive, and leaves a heavy papertrail.
Here’s why invoices are less-than-ideal:
Difficult to resolve errors
When Alice sends an invoice to Bob, she typically has Bob’s consent in general terms (he signed a work order, or ordered goods, or had agreed to pay her for her work on an hourly basis, etc) but often not on the specifics of a particular invoice. If Bob notices an error in the invoice, there is no structured process for him to ask Alice to correct it. A second invoice for a credit has to be issued, or Alice and Bob agree to apply the difference to the next invoice. Resolving an error can drag out and become so complicated that, after a while, it’s hard to remember the details. Even if the error is eventually resolved, it results in additional transactions in the accounting systems like the dreaded system of assigning version numbers to Microsoft Word files. Who knows which version is the latest?
The act of sending an invoice has a certain hard-to-reverse, semi-final nature to it; it is awkward for the sender to have to increase the amount if they made a mistake. It’s also offensive for the recipient to receive an invoices for an excessive amount. Both can lead to double checking on the sender’s side.
Lack of clarity about which item(s) are on which invoice
There are several layers to this process that can add confusion: One invoice may contain several items - the invoicing process itself is too onerous to do it on every occasion! Many invoices may be issued over time, adding confusion about what has been invoiced already and what hasn’t. This complexity is in addition to the question which invoices have been paid and which are still pending.
For longstanding business relationships, using Flextab to keep track of monies owed and paid has advantages over invoices.
Easy to resolve errors
Flextab is a tool not just for tracking work and services, but also for discussing and coming to an agreement about them. Resolving a misunderstanding or error needn’t involve creating a new document; the misunderstanding can be resolved in the discussion thread associated with the item. A finaliezd tab can serve as the invoice itself, or - if convention dictates that you must genetate a pdf – then the tab can provide the infomation that will ultimately go into the the invoice. Of course, a pdf invoice can also be uploaded to the tab to reflect the final agreement.
Flextab provides a place for a structured conversation about each item that would normally go on invoice, without immediately creating a heavy paper trail with consequences for accounting. Discuss each entry with your client or contractor before it’s set in stone. Ensure that there is agreement and clarity before a final document is sent. Remember, both of you can edit the flextab.
No confusion about which invoices have been paid and which are pending
By keeping a running tab of services owed and monies paid, it’s the running tally - not the individual invoice - that matters. Instead of juggling dozens of invoices, trying to remember which ones are paid, partially paid, and pending, Flextab gathers all that information into one place. If anything is pending, it’s the collective balance not some arbitrary subset of services.
Consider suggesting that you use the “Approve” button in lieu of an invoice–to lock in the amount that is owed. Once both parties “Approve” a flextab, that flextab becomes uneditable.