Network Antics works with independent contractors to fill IT and admin positions. Invoicing and project time tracking are handled through Zoho Invoice.
Contractors are required to bill Network Antics on a retainer basis. The retainer system is often used in legal and accounting billing; a client pays an advance fee for the work to be done, and the contractor provides invoices detailing the work that has been completed.
Part One: Configuring Zoho Invoice
In order to create retainer invoices, timesheets and zero-balance invoices (which indicate that work has been completed), you’ll need to create a Zoho account. The Invoiceapp can be used by vendors and subcontractors to track payments, expenses and contacts. The Books app is geared toward small businesses and includes additional features.
Setting up an account
- Visit https://www.zoho.com/us/invoice/signup/to create a free account using a personal email address or linked social media account.Complete the following fields:
- Company Name – this should be the vendor/subcontractor’s name or d/b/a.
- Email Address – must be valid; a verification link will follow.
- Country –set to US by default.
- Complete the Organization Profile. This includes a minimum of the individual or d/b/a name and address; additional fields are available for logo, tax ID and date/time zone settings. Zoho will assign an internal ID number to each organization.
- Click the gear icon in the top-right corner; this will open the Settings menu. Navigate to Settings > Preferences > General. Make sure that the Retainer Invoice module is enabled. Save your changes.
- Navigate to Settings > Preferences > Branding. Within the Branding pane, navigate to the middle tab, Portal Settings. Customer reviews should not be enabled. Make sure that customers can view projects and timesheets and press Save.
- Navigate to Settings> Templates > Invoices. Hover over the pictured invoice template; a blue Edit button will appear along the bottom.
In the Header tab, scroll down to the Document Information section. Make sure that the Project field is selected. Save.
MAKE SURE TO REPEAT THE INSTRUCTIONS IN STEP 3 FOR THE RETAINER INVOICE TEMPLATE.
Now your Zoho Invoice account is set up and configured according to Network Antics’ invoicing requirements.
Part Two: Beginning a Project
The customer in this illustration is NetworkAntics. We hired you the subcontractor for a budget of whatever your hourly rate is x 10 hours.
Subcontractor agreed hourly rate is$25hr. His budget for 10 hours worth of work is $250. The $250 budget will be created in the “project” AKA “timesheet”
It is time to submit a retainer invoice the budget is created within the project. Follow the steps below for more detailed instructions.
Network Antics pays the subcontractor upfront. The subcontractor is responsible for logging time spent completing work, and for creating invoices showing that the retainer has been subtracted from the amount the client owes the subcontractor. The retainer is no longer considered a liability in the subcontractor’s books, and can be recognized as revenue.
Before getting to work, you’ll need to create a contact, a project, a retainer invoice and a timesheet.
Creating a Contact
- For each customer that you work with, you’llneed to create a new Contact. The details will then auto-fill when beginning new projects and creating timesheets for those customers. From the main blue ZohoInvoice Dashboard pane, navigate to the Contacts pane. Create a new contact by filling the following fields:
- Primary Contact Person
- Company Name
- Contact email address – make sure this is the billing address for your client. ZOHO WILL SEND A CONFIRMATION EMAIL TO YOUR CUSTOMER UPON ENABLING PORTAL ACCESS BELOW.
- Contact phone number
- Currency– should be automatically set to USD.
- Enable Portal? – make sure the checkbox is filled. This must be enabled for all Network Antics transactions!
- To make edits, select the contact from the Contacts pane.
Creating a Project
- From the main blue Zoho Invoice Dashboard pane, navigate to the Timesheet pane. Create a new project by filling the following fields:
- Project Name – this should include client names and the date of the project (mmyy).
- Description– the number of hours of work that will be performed.
- Customer ame – select the Customer from the drop-down menu
- Billing Method – select “Based on Project Hours” from the drop-down menu.
- Check toadd budget for this project – this box should be checked; two more fields will appear.
- BudgetType – select “Total Budget Cost” from drop-down menu.
- TotalBudget Cost – the total that will be billed on the retainer invoice: the number of hours to be worked multiplied by the hourly rate.
- Add Tasks to the project. It can be helpful to create a different task for each customer client or for each distinct phase of the project at hand. Include a short description. The Billable checkbox should be filled by default. Save your project.
Creating a Retainer Invoice
- From the Timesheet pane, select the project you want to create a retainer invoice for.
- Once you have opened the project, click New Transaction and Create Retainer Invoice.
- Complete the following fields:
- Customer Name and Billing Address – should be auto-filled with Customer info.
- Retainer Invoice Number – Zoho will auto-generate numbers.
- Retainer Invoice Date
- Description – “$__.00 in prepaid hours”
- Amount – the total amount due; the number of hours of work that will be performed multiplied by the subcontractor’s hourly rate.
- Email to – this should also auto-fill with the billing address (email@example.com).
Save and Send to submit the retainer invoice for payment. Zoho will generate an email with the retainer invoice attached as a PDF. The email will also include a link to the Zoho customer portal, where the timesheet for the project and other details are visible. You’ll have a chance to edit the email before sending.
Creating Log Entries on Timesheet
- From the Timesheet pane, select the project you are working on. The project should be one of the most recent projects with hours not billed to NetworkAntics yet. You should consider setting up a new project for the same budget and send another retainer invoice once you billed 80% of your hours.
- Click the blue Log Time button. Each log entry should include the following:
- Project Name – select from the drop-down menu if not auto-selected. The project name should automatically populate if you clicked in the project.
- Task Name– if you already entered this when creating the project, select from the drop-down menu; if you are working on a new NetworkAntics client,create a New Task andtype the business name.
- Time Spent – the time is based on .5 and 1 hour increments. Minimum of two hours billed for on-site work. Please make sure all tickets are updated possibly closed during your time on-site.
- Notes –copy the Zoho ticket subject line and ticket number from Zoho desk ticket. Submit aquick blurb of that days description of work. Full documented support details of the work performed are written into the ticket itself, not here.
- Save your log entry and get to work!
Recording Payments and Creating Invoices
Once you have exhausted the pre-paid hours billed on a retainer invoice by completing work and logging your time on the project timesheet, you’ll need to create an invoice.
You may be thinking, “but I’ve already created an invoice.” As a reminder, a subcontractor who has received a retainer payment but has not yet completed the deliverable work remains liable to their client; the subcontractor cannot recognize the payment of a retainer invoice as profit until the outlined work has been finished and an invoice has been delivered to the client as a form of transaction receipt.
Creating an invoice in Zoho Invoice is simple. The steps are similar to creating a retainer invoice, but requires that the budget for the project has been exhausted. This means that the number of hours billed on the retainer invoice must match the “billable” time logged on the project timesheet. If you sent a retainer invoice for 10 hours, you cannot send an invoice until you have completed and logged 10 hours of work.
Recording a Payment
After submitting a retainer invoice, you will receive pre-payment for the work to be completed as outlined. In order to create a zero-balance invoice (and in order to keep accurate records for yourself as a subcontractor!), use Zoho Invoice to record the payment.
- Navigate to the Retainer Invoices Select the retainer invoice for which you have received payment.
- Click Record Payment.
- Complete the form by filling the following fields:
- Customer Name – should auto-fill with project details.
- Amount Received – should auto-fill.
- Payment Date – the date that the payment was received.
- Payment Type – select payment type from drop-down menu (usually a check).
- Reference – include the check number for your records.
- Click the blue Record Payment button to save your changes.
Creating a Zero-Balance Invoice
- From the Timesheet pane, select the project you are ready to create an invoice for.
- Once you have opened the project, click New Transaction and Create Invoice.
- Fill in the following details:
- Bill up to – date
- How to sort data on invoice – select “Show all timesheet entries individually” from the drop-down menu.
- Show in item name – select “Project Name” from the drop-down menu.
- Show in item description – add all remaining fields.
- Save and send to submit your invoice to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your client's operations billing person should be adding your user account to each new client project created for NetworkAntics. Please email operations if you are servicing client and you do not have access to there timesheet.
Creating log entries on Networking client’s timesheet
Copy and paste all entries made in your own timesheet to the clients timesheet. The task options are different. Typically projects performed on-site or remotely are specialist. Have the client submit a ticket to the support email address for basic help desk needs as your time is more valued. Please create new tickets for the client if additional projects (not help desk) are demanded of you. Record additional tickets in a separate billable entry.