Billing – a different perspective

Billing (aka invoicing) strikes most professionals as boring and tedious. As far as the average professional is concerned there is only one way to think about billing – a necessary evil. It takes time, doesn’t really help build relationships and can only generate problems, which take even more time to resolve.

I must admit – if given a choice I would also rather spend my time talking to clients about their challenges and how I can help them meet those. However – no invoicing – no income and no funds to invest in the business, so we had better get this right.

Here is a somewhat different perspective on this critical and often under-appreciated topic. A pinch of salt, or perhaps a glass of good wine, may well help improve appreciation of this blog. Enjoy

Approach What is means Other considerations

Marquis de Sade

“Bill till they scream” No longer acceptable. Used to be widely practiced. Popular with management


Incomplete, incoherent, inconcevable If it’s that chaotic – usually missing a good part of what should be included. Unprofessional and not sustainable


Lob in a bill higher than expected by the client and then run for cover Happens surprisingly often. Tends to blow up client relationships.


Lots of small bills, narrative not transparent Not sustainable, client eventually get wise and then angry


Charge on basis of cost incurred Often practiced. Does not align interests between service provider and client. Usually limited upside and plenty of downside – as clients often query the input


(aka Elephant in China shop)

Don’t worry about the consequences – just invoice without regards to timing, content or impact on in-house counterparts. Happens more than one would think. Endangered species but surprisingly resilient in some micro-habitats


Take a risk sharing approach to a series of matters with a client Actually a very creative approach to risk sharing, often victim to internal accounting issues


Sometimes a higher amount is invoiced than intended – and client pays (often without comment) A miracle! If this happens you need to figure out why you have been under-charging for so long!


 The holy grail Actually really difficult to do well. Client often don’t recognise the true value of services rendered, and even when they do – they won’t tell you

Smart billing

The secret of sustainable success Read the book or contact me for insights on how to implement this. No invoice should leave the office without it.

Please let me know your favorites or if you have encountered other approaches that should be included in the list

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