Project Invoice Presentation Gets More Flexible in Microsoft Dynamics AX
The client billing process is one of the most critical business processes that professional services organizations must manage.
Getting invoices out quickly, accurately, and in way that meets your client’s billing requirements can have a direct impact on your cash flow, which is the lifeblood of a professional services firm.
Many of the organizations that we engage with when implementing the Microsoft Dynamics AX Service Industries ERP solution have historically had very manual and inefficient billing processes, which offer significant potential for efficiency gains when implementing Dynamics AX.
Because this is such a critical business process, we at SAGlobal spend a great deal of time thinking about how to make this process more efficient and flexible for our clients. In fact, we’ve recently released a new feature in our ProjAX (now known as Projects+) industry solution for Microsoft Dynamics AX that we believe should significantly improve the project billing process. We call this our “Invoice Grouping” feature.
Historically in Microsoft Dynamics AX, each variation of an invoice format has required the development of a new invoice document template in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). For example, if you wanted to show the labor hour lines in detail on some invoices, but summarized on other invoices, you needed to two different SSRS invoice templates. For organizations that have a lot of variability in how they need to format their invoices, this adds a lot of cost and complexity to develop all of these different SSRS documents.
Now in fairness, there is a standard feature in Dynamics AX called “Format Invoice Proposal” that allows you to do one-off formatting of how the invoice details will be presented, but it cannot be saved or re-used on an ongoing basis – it is truly a one-off proposition.
Our new Invoice Grouping feature is embedded into the invoice proposal process where draft invoices are created and sent off through a workflow for approval. This feature allows you to create standard invoice presentations as a configuration exercise in Dynamics AX, rather than having to develop unique SSRS documents for each unique flavor. For example, if you want to create an invoice format where you display both labor and expenses in detail, but another invoice format where labor or expenses are instead summarized, this is simply a configuration now in Dynamics AX instead of SSRS development. These different formats can then be saved and utilized on an ongoing basis during the invoicing process. This lets you share a single invoice template for most standard types of invoicing requirements.
New Project Invoice Proposal Screen in Microsoft Dynamics AX
The screenshot above shows just one example of how you can create these standard invoice presentation templates. As you can see, there is a new field highlighted in blue called “Invoicing Group” where you can select which of these invoice presentation templates you want to use on an invoice for a given client or project. There’s also a new pane on the right hand side of the screen where you get a real-time preview of what the invoice presentation will look like when it’s rendered on paper. This gives employees that are creating and approving the invoices the ability to see in real time how the invoice details will be presented to the client so that they can make any necessary adjustments. The presentation example shown above includes a section for hours details with an hours subtotal, and then a section for expense details with an expense subtotal, and then a grand total at the bottom. This will also automatically make any necessary adjustments due to rounding differences between the overall totals and line total details.
In addition to providing the flexibility to easily address different invoice presentation requirements, this feature will save significant time and money associated with having to develop new SSRS document templates for each variation of your invoice formats. With this feature, only the most truly unique invoice formats will require that a unique SSRS template be developed. This will save clients $$ thousands in costs related to SSRS document development.
About the Author
Andy Yeomans is Director of Business Development for SAGlobal, where his role is to help project-driven organizations evaluate and select ERP software systems to better manage their finances, projects, clients, and resources. Andy was instrumental in developing the organization's Microsoft Dynamics AX industry solutions and practice area for the AE & Environmental industry. Andy has over 17 years of ERP experience and has helped dozens of AE & Environmental firms evaluate, select, and implement ERP software systems for their business.