New Automated Invoice Backup Generation Process Added to ProjAX (now known as Projects+) Billing Process
SAGlobal ProjAX (now known as Projects+) for Microsoft Dynamics AX can help simplify and accelerate your billing process.
In our experience working with many professional services organizations over the years, we’ve found that the billing process can be one of the most cumbersome and manual processes that they have to manage. This impacts their business in many ways, not the least of which is the impact it has on their cash flow. Any delay in the time between the work being performed and invoices being sent out and collected upon can directly impact your cash flow, which is the lifeblood of any services organization.
Because the billing process is so critical to our clients, SAGlobal has made significant investments in our ProjAX (now known as Projects+) industry solution for Microsoft Dynamics AX to help simplify and accelerate the billing process. The first significant investment was our Invoice Grouping feature (described here: http://blog.saglobal.com/item/project-invoice-presentation-gets-more-flexible-in-microsoft-dynamics-ax.html) which provides flexibility by making it simple for power users to create new invoice formats on the fly. This saves significant time and cost by allowing you to easily vary the presentation of your invoice data within a single invoice template.
The other major hurdle that our clients face in the billing process is in pulling together all of the backup details that their customers require in order to pay their invoices. This process can take a lot of time and manual intervention to chase down the detailed documents, pull them all together, and send them off to the customer. This process is not automated in the standard Microsoft Dynamics AX service industries solution, but due to its universal applicability to our clients, SAGlobal has now added this functionality to our ProjAX (now known as Projects+) industry solution for Dynamics AX.
This solution required some creative thinking, since it’s very difficult to convert backup files of varying file types into one single PDF file and then append it to the invoice in Dynamics AX without significant custom development. So instead of trying to post everything into a PDF file, we’ve decided to accumulate these documents into a zip file archive instead. In addition to compiling these backup files into the zip file archive, we’ve then created logic to rename the backup files so they sort nicely within the ZIP file. We then automated the process to generate this backup file, which can now automatically be sent with the invoice to their customer.
Since our clients have a wide variety of different types of backup documents that they need to provide to their clients along with the invoice, we’ve identified a number of places in Dynamics AX where we wanted to be able to auto-generate these backup files out of the box. This includes:
- Expense report SSRS document
- Expense report attachments
- Timesheet SSRS report document
- Vendor invoice attachments
- Project attachments
- Invoice proposal (draft invoice) attachments
One of the things that is interesting about our design, is that you could extend this concept to basically any report or table in Dynamics AX. There’s no technical limitation to this concept now that we have this framework in place. So any type of file or SSRS report can be generated and included in the backup file along with the invoice.
This feature is now part of our standard Invoice Grouping functionality in ProjAX (now known as Projects+). In the invoice grouping setup, you can determine what types of transactions or documents you want to flow into the archive.
Invoice Grouping Setup
Once you’ve set up the archive defaults, you’ll see that there is now a new button on the action pane of the Invoice Proposal form that says “Create archive file”.
Generating Invoice Proposals
During the invoicing process, this function can be initiated to automatically create the archive zip file of backup documents and store it in the document handling system for that invoice.
Archive File as Attachment
When you open up the archive zip file, you can see all of the backup documents that have been compiled into it. In the screenshot below, it’s a very basic numbering format to organize the documents within the archive file, but you can number and sort the backup documents with whatever nomenclature you want.
For organizations that also pass-through vendor invoices to their customers, the archive file also brought in a vendor invoice from the AP module to be included with the customer’s invoice:
AP Vendor Invoice
Again, this feature can bring in any type of file that has been attached to the project. To illustrate this concept, we also brought into the archive file a project status report in Microsoft Word that had been attached to the project:
Project Status Report
We’re excited about the potential this new functionality has to not only reduce one-off customizations for each client that we implement Dynamics AX for, but also the direct impact this will have to our client’s billing efficiency levels and ultimately their cash flow.
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.