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Learn why the Client Billing Schedule will enable you to provide an exceptional client experience.

IMPROVE CASH FLOW 5 mins 09 Sep 2020 by Dane Thomas
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Exceptional client relationships should be at the heart of every professional services business. This is easier said than done, so what does genuine client-centricity actually look like?

To be truly client-centric, practices need a way to define and manage the context of their client relationships, understand how this impacts the services offered to each client, and how this changes over time.

Recognising this, in June we shared that the future of our product relies on adding value at every stage of the lifecycle between your business and your clients. We realise we need to go beyond being a ‘proposal and payments tool’ to truly address the breadth of problems that exist across this wider scope.

Foundational to our focus on enabling client-centricity has been the introduction of the Client Billing Schedule as part of the Client view. This update, along with others that will follow, means you’ll have better visibility into the context of your client relationships – at every stage.

During the past months, we’ve gradually rolled the Client Billing Schedule out across all Ignition accounts and wanted to share more about this with you.

Change can be hard at first. Here’s how billing has changed for the better:

  • You’ll now navigate to the client to manage billing, rather than the proposal
  • In the Client Billing Schedule, you will see a list of services that are separated into two sections: Billed Manually and Billed Automatically
  • You’ll be able to see manual billings at a client level with new client list filters
  • You’ll be able to schedule manual invoices for the future (rather than only being able to raise them now)
  • You’ll be able to include fractional quantities for hourly billings (e.g., 1.5 hours)

Why make this change?

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? Truth be told, it was kind of broke.

Our previous billing engine revolved around proposals. Behind the scenes, payments and invoicing were connected to the proposal, instead of to the client. With invoices and payments spread across multiple proposals, you couldn’t really provide your clients with an overview of all the services underway, or find out when they were going to be billed next.

Now, when your client calls, you’ll be able to quickly bring up that client record and see the full picture. Proposals still remain, but a consolidated view means you can see and manage everything in one place – the source of truth for each client.

The Client Billing Schedule also solves a number of limitations with the display of our dashboard data. Previously, your in-app business dashboard was driven by finding and aggregating proposal data. Now, the Client Billing Schedule powers the dashboard for improved accuracy and reliability. This also sets Ignition up for greater improvements to dashboard reporting planned for the future.

What’s changed?

The most noticeable impact for you will be that instead of going into a proposal to view and manage billing, you’ll go to the client to access the Billing Schedule.

As a gentle reminder, we’ve included links to guide you to the client view from the old place in your proposals.

In the new Client Billing Schedule, you will see a list of services that are separated into two sections: Billed Manually and Billed Automatically:

  • Services that are Billed Manually work in a similar way as they did before – you can select one or more services, add invoice notes, confirm the quantity and amount and invoice the client.
  • Billed Automatically means that you now have a list of all the services that will automatically be billed by Ignition in the future - not just the next invoice date.

The client view is also where you can see all payments and invoices for every proposal in the ‘Invoices & Payments’ section. Here you will see:

  • A list of all invoices that have been raised for the client - click to see the full details.
  • Payments that are scheduled, collecting or collected for each invoice.

What’s new?

Most of the improvements to date have focused on manually billed services (previously referred to as on completion and estimate services).

Bill for fractional quantities
This allows you to bill for 1.25 hours rather than whole numbers.

Add a discount to your invoice
You can now add a discount amount when manually invoicing your client.

Schedule invoices for a future date
You no longer need to be in Ignition at the time of billing! As soon as you know what you’re going to charge your client you can select that service, enter the price and schedule it to be invoiced on a future date. Don’t want to send the client an invoice for work completed on a Saturday? Schedule it to go out for Monday and we take care of the rest!

New client filters for manual and overdue billings
To help you keep on top of your manual billing, we’ve introduced new client level filters that allow you to see what clients have billings which are overdue, due this week and due this month.

Improved review and preview step
The invoice and payment summary can be reviewed before sending. This will help reduce errors and build confidence that what you’ve entered is what’s going to happen.

Improved activity log and audit trail
We’ve greatly improved the activity detail when viewing an invoice. Logs are created for every step and if payments are being collected the flow of the funds can more easily be determined.

Based on your feedback, we have also added a project name for manual items

Thank you to all those who have provided us detailed feedback as to how they use manual billing items since our release of the Client Billing Schedule. In response to this feedback, we have added an additional field to manual billing items that is the ‘Project name’.

This comes from the proposal name and is something we have exposed to help with visibility for those firms who bill the same service across multiple projects for a client. We will be looking to expand support for this use case overtime as well.

What’s next?

Excitingly, now that the foundational work has been done, we are looking at other, highly requested functionality that previously wasn’t possible!

More control of the Schedule
One of the first improvements you'll see is the ability to ‘break the rules’ (billing rules, that is). Do you need to change this month's recurring invoice to push it back a week? Or maybe you need to charge a little bit extra, just this month? We will be opening up more control to make one time changes to your client schedule.

Even better visibility & searchability
We’re also working on visibility improvements that will be especially helpful for customers who bill the same service across multiple proposals. Searching and filtering is also being explored.

We’re introducing changes in a progressive and purposeful way. Soon you’ll see how we’re reimagining the proposal creation experience. Our focus remains the same as it’s always been – to help you do business with your clients.

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Meet the author

Dane Thomas

Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer  Ignition

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Published 09 Sep 2020 Last updated 19 Mar 2024