When is the Best Time to Start Automating Invoices?

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 15/08/2023

The purpose of this article is to help finance managers and directors determine whether they should automate invoicing in their company. We believe there is the right time to start automating invoices and we will explain it in detail, as well as address some of the most common objections.

Automation tools are expensive. Not only do you need to justify their use to yourself, but also to the stakeholders as every business, ultimately, is trying to minimise expenditure and grow revenue. Many fall into the trap of working with lesser and often free (if any at all) tools under the impression they will invest in better solutions once they scale. However, this seldom happens, even when we talk about processes of huge importance, such as accounting or sales. So, what about smaller tasks like invoicing?

Naturally, they’re never seen as a priority, and we disagree with that. When it comes to automation and overall digitisation, we always recommend starting small. But again, there are many processes, and prioritising can be difficult. So, where should invoicing be on the priority list? When is the best time to automate it? Our aim today is to answer these questions. 

Signs You Should Automate Your Invoice Processing

Here are some pointers suggesting you should consider starting automating invoices:

  • You raise invoices regularly;

  • It became a stand-alone item on your to-do list;

  • It takes more than 5 minutes of your time;

  • You send invoices to multiple clients;

  • Your offer multiple services that need to be invoiced separately;

  • You charge different rates depending on the circumstances;

  • Your company is aiming to scale and grow

You may recognise your situation in some of these bullet points but still not find them convincing. However, if you do, we have already determined the most optimal time for you to start automating. And 

The Best Time is Now

Yes, you read that right. No matter how far along you are in your business journey and whether you raise one invoice a day or 10, the best time to automate the process is now. We already know what you might be thinking at this point, so let’s address that. 

“But It’s Not Taking Much of My Time”

That’s a very common misconception, so don’t feel bad for falling for it. At first glance, invoicing indeed isn’t one of the tasks that eats up much of your time. If you already have a template you simply need to populate it, it’s not likely to take over 5 minutes. We can add additional 2 minutes for emailing it over to the client. Overall, 7 minutes of your day are not worth spending hundreds on software to automate the process. But what if you have to raise and send 5 invoices?

That’s half an hour. While still not too damaging, you could be using that time towards something more progress-driving instead of keying data in. The bigger the volume, the more time it will be taking. Again, simply because the task is easy and can be completed in mere minutes, many companies convince themselves it’s not time-consuming. Even if you only raise an invoice a day, you still lose that half an hour on a weekly basis. So, with that in mind, recalculate how much time you actually spend on invoicing and reconsider your statement.

“I Don’t Raise Enough Invoices to Automate”

The key word here is ‘yet’. Every business is hoping to grow and scale, and as the number of your clients grows, the number of invoices you need to raise will too. There are other instances to consider too - how many contracted workers you bring on board for projects, different services your business offers and many more. In other words, starting to automate now is a good investment into the future. This way you don’t get overwhelmed by increased volumes when they eventually come.

In addition to that, the earlier you begin automating, the more accustomed you’ll be to the process. While invoice automation is a rather simple thing to set up, there are still a couple of intricacies depending on what type of solution you’re using. It’s certainly easier to start when you aren’t juggling big volumes of invoices and you’re likely to notice and fix if anything isn’t working the way it should, without it causing too much damage. Additionally, you will be applying minor tweaks as you go along in order to better the process instead of just putting it in place. Needless to say, there’s a big difference between the two.

Reasons to Start Automating Today

Now that we’ve addressed some of the common objections, let’s look into the additional benefits of kickstarting invoice automation ASAP. Mind, they aren’t visible immediately and are somewhat of a long-term investment, so if you’re trying to convince your stakeholders - have them warned of that.

Save Time in the Long Run

To be very straightforward, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you ‘need a solution yesterday’. This means you’re already under an avalanche of invoices to raise and have to learn on the go, which is barely ideal given how sensitive financial matters are when it comes to errors. It’s more difficult to set up and master the new solution when you’re already struggling, therefore it will take more time for yourself and your team to actually start utilising the tool. In other words, before you start saving time, you will end up wasting a lot of it first.

That’s why it’s best to start before you have an actual need for the software. This way you can experiment with it, trying it out on small tasks. This way you can also quickly undo the process if mistakes happen, optimise it for better operation and make sure everyone on your team is comfortable with the tool before it becomes a necessity. This way when you inevitably start dealing with bigger volumes of invoices, they will pose no challenge. 

Collect Data for Future Improvements

Another benefit of starting to automate as soon as possible is that when the software takes over the process not only it runs it, but also collects data. The said insights will then be presented in graphs on either your dashboard or, if you want more in-depth information, in granulated reports. Such a format makes it easy to analyse, quickly spotting trends, opportunities and the areas where the process isn’t running as smoothly as it should.

This data is crucial for optimising the process to bring it to peak effectiveness. What’s more, this also allows you to easily access the results of experiments you might be running as each change will start recording data immediately. You will then be able to compare the results from before and after, identifying what works best. Naturally, the earlier you start, the more optimised your process will be when you’re in need of it to be fully functional. So, even if invoicing isn’t much of a headache yet, best start automating now so you’re ready when it gets tasking.

Invoice Automation Tools

If you’re sold on the idea, you must be impatient to start automating your invoicing process the moment you finish reading the article. However, here comes the first hurdle - if you don’t have the feature integrated into one of your current solutions, you need a whole new tool. 

Automate Invoices with Timesheet Portal

As we’re continuously harping on through this article, the best practice is to start automating invoices from the moment you get to raise the first one. Or, more realistically, before you’re actually spending hours on a weekly basis both filling them up and distributing them to the involved parties. There are many solutions available on the market to aid you with that, and finding the one that works can be just as tasking. Good thing you’re already at the right place as invoice automation is something Timesheet Portal can help you with.

Our system pulls data to populate the invoices with data straight from the timesheets your workers submit. It’s also taking into consideration factors such as differentiating rates, overtime, expenses incurred and many more. Once the primary setup is done, generating an invoice only takes a click and a couple of seconds. It takes as much effort to send them to your clients straight from the system. What’s more, you can set them to be created and distributed to the recipients automatically on pre-set days, without having as much as long into the platform. Timesheet Portal adapts to your working preferences. 


The best time to start automating invoices is now. Even if you only raise one invoice a week. The couple of minutes you spend on it stack up at the end of the month - calculate them in that perspective and you’ll see how much time you’re losing. Additionally, there are plenty of benefits to starting automation while the volumes are still low.

First of all, there is room to make mistakes as they’re easily corrected. It also gives the opportunity to figure out the best workflow, test different solutions and train your team. Finally, the sooner you begin automation, the more data you’ll collect to bring your process to the next level. Of course, there are many solutions offering to take over-invoicing for you - it’s easy to get lost on the market. As it happens, we offer this service at Timesheet Portal too and, not to blow our own horn, it comes with many great extras.

So, since you’re here, why not start with us?

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Timesheet Portal online software provided by Anfold Software Ltd, a registered company in the UK.