In a perfect world, professional services firms could invoice their clients for every charge to every project, and the clients would pay every invoice. However, in reality, nearly all professional services firms have write-offs. Write-offs can occur when your firm and your client agree that they don’t have to pay an invoice, when the client is unable to or refuses to pay an invoice, or when your firm is unable to bill all project charges to the client.
While writing-off charges is necessary sometimes, the good news is that each of these types of write-offs can be easily handled in Deltek Vantagepoint. Since write-offs impact the firm’s financial statements, it is crucial to have clear guidelines as to the accounting period in which they should be created/posted. In this blog, let’s talk a little bit about how to handle write-offs the “right” way to make the process as painless as possible.
Firm and Client Agree to a Reduction in an Invoice Amount
Did you accidentally invoice the client too much? Did you send an invoice for a change order before it was fully approved? Or did the client argue about a portion of the invoice, and you agreed to a reduction in the invoice amount?
When the client does not require a revised invoice, you may choose to do an invoice adjustment through the transaction center. It is recommended to use the original invoice number and date, and the WBS2/3 level from the original invoice. Doing so will result in the adjustment being applied to the original invoice, making receipt more efficient. One thing to consider when using this method is that if you keep invoices on file, the PDF invoice stored on the project will not show the adjustment. If the PDF invoice was later needed, it could be confusing that the total no longer matches the invoice amount that shows in the system.
If the client requires a revised invoice, or if you prefer to make sure the invoice on file matches the amount the system shows as billed, you may instead choose to void and reissue the invoice through Interactive Billing in Deltek Vantagepoint. Voiding an invoice reinstates the charges that were included with the invoice (which allows you the option to hold or write-off charges) and you would issue an invoice for the new amount. When voiding an invoice, it is best to post the void before running the revised one.
It is important to note that voiding an invoice will affect the financial statements, so be sure to void in a current, open accounting period. Another consideration with issuing a revised invoice is what invoice date to use. If it is agreed that the payment terms can start on the date of the original invoice, you can change the invoice date in the billing session options.
A Client is Unable to or Refuses to Pay an Invoice
Did your client go out of business? Did a portion of your work fail to meet expectations? And, did it result in the client refusing to pay?
Many professional services firms track an Allowance for Bad Debts against Accounts Receivable. When a client cannot or will not pay an invoice, it is likely that you will want to put the write-off against the allowance. The most efficient way to do this is to process a zero-dollar cash receipt. Select the invoice as though you are paying it, then enter an additional line in the cash receipt and select either the bad debt contra-asset or expense account.
Many firms use an indirect account for a bad debt expense. But, if your firm prefers bad debt expense to be a direct expense, you could set up a project as a regular charge type and a direct expense account to be used exclusively for recording bad debt.
If your firm reports on a cash basis, and you do not want to show any revenue or expense, Deltek Vantagepoint can accommodate that as well. In AR Mapping accounts, set up your Allowance for Bad Debts as an invoicing account (leave all other fields blank unless you also want a separate AR column). Then when you need to write off an AR invoice, process a negative invoice transaction using the original invoice number, WBS level(s), invoice section(s), and the Allowance for Bad Debts account.
If you do not have a bad debt allowance, you can void the invoice as explained previously and write off the transactions (explained in the next section). You could also choose to do a credit memo. The credit memo function reverses the invoice but does not reinstate the charges to Interactive Billing.
The Firm is Unable to Bill All Project Charges to the Client
There are several reasons you may not be able to bill all the charges on a project to the client including inefficiencies during work performance, going over budget, training new staff, and resource turnover. GAAP guidelines indicate that potential losses are to be recognized as soon as known. When it is known that charges cannot be billed to the client, use the write-off function in Interactive Billing.
This function will cause the items to be excluded from invoicing, thereby not recording revenue. If your professional services firm uses revenue generation, then to exclude write-offs, make sure the formula is set up accordingly. Using the write-off function for charges will not remove the charges from project reporting, except in cases where you choose to exclude charges to be written off such as on the Unbilled Summary report.
On reports where you can select to show the billing status of charges, items that have been marked for write-off have a status of W, and items that have been written-off have a status of X. If tracking/reporting of write-offs is desired, you could choose to use the project detail report. Then on the options tab, only include charges with the X or W status.
Visibility Around Write-Off Amounts
Using Deltek Vantagepoint, there is visibility around write-offs. As mentioned, to see the specific items written off, you can use a report such as a project detail and include only items with the X or W status. Since typically no revenue is recognized for written-off items, there are other areas that you can see write-offs and their impact as well:
- As negative profit on the Project Earnings and Office Earnings reports when run at cost
- As a negative variance on the Project Earnings and Office Earnings reports when run at billing
- In Project Review at cost and billing in the profit/variance box
Use Deltek Vantagepoint to Manage Write-Offs
As discussed, there are several reasons that professional services firms experience write-offs. When write-offs are necessary, know that Deltek Vantagepoint can be set up and used to process them the “right” way, while also providing visibility so that your firm has a handle on its financial statements. If your professional services firm needs assistance in this area, don’t hesitate to contact us for more details.