Why you shouldn't use spreadsheets for invoicing

    Written by HarmonyPSA on 2018-05-21 Last updated 2020-02-01 - 2 minute read

Hands up who still has critical dependencies on spreadsheets as part of their invoicing process?

Pause to watch a sea of hands go up…

Whether the amount is recorded on a central spreadsheet from the contract, or spreadsheets are used to circulate time for pre-billing approval, a surprising number of large and otherwise sophisticated companies still have some critical spreadsheets as part of their invoicing procedures.

Even companies selling software work in this way. Pretty amazing when you think about it. Not that spreadsheets per se are bad things - they are great actually. You can calculate stuff, present it how you like... no boring system restrictions here. Create all the chaos you like. Spreadsheets are good at chaos, in particular when multiple people access and update the same control sheet.

What they are not good at is flow, automation and control. They are excellent for entering data you’ve captured it - assuming it is right.

An interesting word: “captured”…. Try searching “manual data capture” and see all the method guides, articles and process advice available online to try to make a fundamentally rubbish process acceptable. One quote stands out:

Manual data entry is an inherently slow process, prone to errors, subject to human resource fluctuations, and expensive to scale as your business grows”.

We agree. This process is worse still when the recipient system is a spreadsheet. No audit trail, no change control... just a nice grid to put information in that can then be retyped onto an invoice.

The use of spreadsheets in invoicing is a compensation for not having the right control system. If you need a spreadsheet to get your invoices out, you are building your business on an error-prone, fragile, manual and expensive process that will one day bite you, or maybe it’s just nibbling away all the time.

We don’t agree that companies should worry about data capture, or even data administration (another expression used to explain the consequences of poorly designed software/processes). Business activity should self-administer, data should never escape from the system that controls it and so never need recapturing.

Invoices should just happen because the business activity triggers them. Invoice events should flow from work and the actual invoice itself should be automatically generated, posted, send and paid without human intervention.

That’s what we think, and that’s why we wrote Harmony.

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About the Author: Harmony Business Systems Ltd (HBS) is the company behind HarmonyPSA, the most complete cloud PSA software on the market. Developed with functionality to cater for even the most complex needs of MSPs, VARs, ISVs and Professional Services organisations, HarmonyPSA truly is the next generation of PSA systems. Follow HarmonyPSA on , LinkedIn or Website

Tags: Business, invoicing, automated invoicing, Payments


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