Every project has to start somewhere and more often than not that project usually starts as an estimate. Although creating such a document is a great way for potential clients to see how much they might have to pay and for businesses to further streamline the sales process, without the right tool the process of quoting only slows down the commencement of the project, which ultimately leads to wasting money.
Luckily online accounting software can speed the process up significantly thanks to a crucial feature that conveniently turns estimates into invoices.
Why Are Estimates Important?
Admittedly striking a deal and then starting the project right away is way easier than generating a quote and waiting for a response. However, an estimate is actually more important than you might think.
From the client’s point of view quotes build trust between the two parties since they make clients feel involved in the project from the very beginning. This is best showcased by the nature of the quote, which shows in great detail what the end result of the project will be and how much the client might have to pay should the project get greenlit. Simply put, sending an estimate first allows your client to decide whether to accept your terms or not, and if they do then whether certain modifications are necessary before the project can be formally started.
Quoting is also beneficial for the business since it’s a great asset in streamlining any sales process. Think of the quote as a resume of sorts with all the necessary information included in it, from the client’s name and a description of the project itself to the quoted price and any special requests made on behalf of the client. In that regard, quotes can also work as reminders that let you see project details at a glance but can also be of great help in prioritizing the tasks of the project, too. And then there is the fact that by turning an estimate into an invoice the client is more likely to pay in time – and won’t be surprised by the fees.
Turning Quotes Into Invoices
Creating a quote and then transforming it into an invoice is an exceptionally simple task, but with an online accounting solution it’s like child’s play. For starters, putting together estimates happens in exactly the same way as with invoices and they are also tracked in a similar fashion from the moment they are sent until they are accepted or rejected by the client. And once the estimate is approved, converting it into an invoice is only a matter of a few clicks, since its content is automatically carried over to a new invoice that just needs to be sent to and paid by the client.
Although this is more than enough for truly hassle-free quote management, more advanced solutions like FreshBooks and QuickBooks Online take estimating to the next level. For instance, both programs allow users to customize the appearance of quotes to their liking and to require clients to first sign an estimate before accepting it. FreshBooks, however, ups the ante by providing the option to create more-detailed proposals instead of simple quotes, allowing for a two-way chat-like conversation between the client and all of the project’s participants.
However, note that in most cases estimates and projects are handled separately by accounting programs, meaning that estimates must be attached manually to ongoing projects. However, there are some online accounting solutions where a project can be built from a single estimate with the option to later turn that estimate into an invoice once the project is finished.
Estimating With Third-Party Software
Although estimating is important it’s not treated as well as invoicing, even when it’s a key feature of the accounting software. However, since online accounting programs are entirely cloud-based, there is the option to substitute the software’s default estimating function by integrating it with a third-party application.
These apps range from the simplest tools like the appropriately named Quotient – which do nothing other than generate quotes – to full-fledged business solutions like Harvest and Tradify that manage everything from invoices and estimates to projects. Regardless of the kind of software you pick, once they are on board all you have to do is sit back and watch as the quotes created by the add-on are automatically sent to the accounting program and converted into an invoice the moment they are accepted by your client.
Quotient and Xero
Best Online Accounting Software of 2019