Small Business Services

Automate Transactions to Save Time, Avoid Problems

You’d think that repeating the same task over and over would reduce your chances of making errors. But if you’re doing the same thing multiple times, doesn’t your attention start to wander sometimes? You may make mistakes no matter how many times you’ve completed the identical task.

That’s one of the problems that cloud-based accounting applications solve by automating transaction entry: errors that appear in bills and invoices. Web-based bookkeeping solutions offer tools that let you create a transaction once, and then use that as a template for future occurrences. This feature can also:

  • Save time by reducing duplicate data entry,
  • Improve cash flow by invoicing in a timely fashion,
  • Maintain good credit with vendors by meeting suppliers’ payment deadlines.

Here’s a look at how it can work.

Enter Once and Repeat

Cloud-based accounting solutions already save time and improve accuracy by providing transaction forms that look like their paper counterparts, but which can be completed quickly using existing data. This data comes from records that you’ve created that contain details about contacts (customers and suppliers), products and services, and other things like sales tax.

When it comes time to enter an invoice, for example, you open the form and select the correct entries from the drop-down lists of options you’ve created. You’ll verify the date, select a customer, and then select the inventory items or services purchased. The site fills in details like the customer address, item descriptions, and prices. Some fields will require some manual data entry, like due date, currency type, quantity, and reference.

Creating a repeating invoice involves a similar process, though you’ll have to supply additional information, selecting the correct options from drop-down lists. You’ll specify the frequency, original invoice date, and the due date in relation to the invoice date, so that you don’t have to go in and add new dates manually (day of the month, number of days after the invoice date, etc.).

If you’ll only be sending this invoice for a limited amount of time, you can enter an End Date. Otherwise, the invoice will continue to be due at the specified frequency.

Completing and Processing

If the invoice will be identical each time, you can complete the actual order fields (item, price, quantity, etc.) before you save. If the items/services requested are going to change every time, you can either leave that portion blank or fill it in, then edit the item section before you dispatch it.

The best accounting websites offer you multiple options for processing repeating invoices. You can:

  • Save them as templates. You might want to choose this for a customer who occasionally places the same order, but not on a regular basis.
  • Require manual approval. If the site offers an approval level, you can indicate that the repeating transaction must be signed off by someone with authority before sending.
  • Automate them. Identical invoices can be dispatched automatically at the specified intervals. Be very careful when you select this option.

If some kind of action is required before repeating invoices go out, you’ll either see them in a list of transactions due for processing, or you’ll receive some kind of reminder. They may also appear on the site’s dashboard, an overview of things like account balances, current income and expenses, and to-do items.

Other transactions

Cloud-based accounting applications often let you create recurring templates for other transactions. For example, if you have a bill that is exactly the same every month, you could go through the same set of steps that you used when you set up repeating invoices.

Repeating transactions can help you save time, reduce errors, and maintain good relationships with customers and suppliers – if they’re created with 100 percent accuracy and processed on time (if necessary). But any mistakes can lead to unhappy creditors and angry customers.

As with any actions that you automate on a financial website, it’s best to run through their setup with your financial advisor.  Even if you double- and triple-check your work, another pair of eyes may catch something that could prove unpleasant.

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