🚀 You are a Freelancer? Save time now for free.


Robert Reiz Robert Reiz / April 05, 2023 / 13:06 UTC
ZEIT.IO is a platform on which you can manage your experts (freelancers & permanent employees). ZEIT.IO digitizes the business processes of agencies that invoice according to time and material. These include contracts, budget monitoring, time recording, an approval process (in which your customer can also be involved) and an invoicing module that can automatically create invoices/credit notes.

Who does not know that? The month is coming to an end and at the beginning of the next month the game with the outgoing invoices begins. The hours worked on the project must be invoiced to the customer. If you only have 5 experts working for the customer, then it is still manageable and you can create the outgoing invoices manually. However, if you have a few tens, or hundreds, of experts at different clients, then you're grateful for any automation you can get!

On ZEIT.IO you can of course invoice the booked hours and expenses of your experts (permanent employees and freelancers). There is a billable table for controlling, in which all billable and billed items can be viewed grouped by service month. Items that have not yet been billed can be billed from the table with a single click. But ZEIT.IO does not claim that you create invoices and credit notes manually! ZEIT.IO stands for the automation of these processes. Ideally, all credit notes and outgoing invoices are created and sent automatically and you only have to use the billable table for controlling.

In the best-case scenario, you have implemented this fully automated process yourself.

Your business fully automated

In the process shown in the image above, your experts log project times and expenses throughout the month. At the end of the month, the accounting process is started, in which the experts request approval for the booked times. Your customer will receive an email with a link to a timesheet where the booked hours can be viewed, commented on and approved (or rejected). After your client approves a timesheet, a credit note for the expert is automatically generated and sent out. Of course, this step only happens if the expert is a freelancer or supplier. If the expert is a permanent employee of yours then of course no credit note will be issued.

In the next step, the outgoing invoice is automatically created and sent to the customer. The outgoing invoice contains the items that the customer has approved on the timesheet.

If your ZEIT.IO account is linked to a DATEV account, the credit and outgoing invoice will be sent immediately to the linked DATEV account. This means that the documents are available to your tax advisor in real time.

If your customer's SAP system is connected, the approved times will also be transferred to your customer's SAP system. This means that the approved hours are also available to your customer for controlling.

This process does not require you to create a credit memo or A/R invoice manually. You just have to set up your projects correctly in ZEIT.IO. The automatically generated credit notes and outgoing invoices naturally appear in the billable table, which you can use for controlling.

Automatic outgoing invoice - configuration at the customer

The automatic outgoing invoices can be configured per customer and per project. If you have several projects with one customer, then it makes sense to configure this feature directly in the customer object. To do this, navigate in ZEIT.IO to the desired customer object and click on "Invoice settings". The form then looks like this:

Auto-Invoice configuration at customer level

invoice type

In the form you can configure the invoice type to be used for outgoing invoices to this customer. The invoice type determines the grouping of items on the invoice. By default, one outgoing invoice is created per expert. But of course you can also create an invoice grouped by experts. Some customers don't want to see expert names on the bill at all and instead want the hours grouped by activity. Everything can be adjusted here.


Next you can configure whether you want to generally activate automatic outgoing invoices for this customer or not. If the trigger is set to "None", then automatic A/R invoices are disabled for this customer. Otherwise you can configure here what should be the trigger for the automatic outgoing invoices. In most cases, approval of a timesheet should trigger the A/R invoice. But there are two other triggers. Optionally, you can also set that all open positions should be settled on a certain day of the month. The same can also be set for a certain period of time.

target state

You can of course also configure what the target status of the outgoing invoice should be. In most cases it makes sense to select "Sent". In this case, the invoice is created, completed and sent. You can also select "Draft" or "Final" as the target state. In this case, the invoice is generated but not sent. If the target state is "Draft", then the invoice is generated in draft mode and you can still edit the invoice manually. In this case, the invoice must then be completed and sent manually.

Otherwise you can of course set the language and date format for the invoice and select a recipient. All e-mail addresses of all contact persons and departments of the customer appear in the selection field for recipients.

If you create a new project and assign the project to the customer, the auto-invoice configuration from the customer object is automatically adopted for the project. Of course, settings can be further overwritten at project level.

Automatic outgoing invoice - configuration at the project

Of course, the feature can also be configured at project level. If you have an existing project for which you want to enable automatic A/R invoices, then you must do so at the project level. To do this, navigate to the desired project and click on "Auto. Outgoing Invoices" in the side navigation. The form for this looks like this:

Auto-Invoice configuration at project level

Similar to the customer object, you can configure the trigger and target state here at the project level.

Which projects are particularly suitable for automatic outgoing invoices?

All hourly-based projects where consultants submit monthly timesheets. It doesn't matter whether the times were recorded on ZEIT.IO or not. It also doesn't matter if the timesheet is approved by a client or by you. the aproval triggers the outgoing invoice.

Which projects are not suitable for automatic outgoing invoices?

Fixed-price projects are not suitable for automatic outgoing invoices. You should continue to create the outgoing invoices for fixed-price projects manually with a plain invoice in ZEIT.IO.

Should you switch everything at once?

No! It is best to start with the projects where both experts and customers are on ZEIT.IO. This is where you save the most time. In the next step, you can convert all projects for which you have to approve the timesheets yourself. And then the rest.

What if I need very specific project numbers on the invoice?

This is not a problem! If you edit the project, you can store "dynamic fields" in the project. These are any "key-value" pairs that are saved directly in the project. Here is an example:

Dynamic input fields at project level

All dynamic fields from the project are included in the invoice when the invoice is created. These values then appear in the upper right corner of the invoice, right on the first page.
By the way, there are also dynamic fields at customer object level. If the values do not change from project to project, then it makes perfect sense to store them directly with the customer object.

Can I configure the email body?

Yes, of course! In the organization's settings, under "Defaults", you can configure the email body used to send the invoice. The invoice itself is attached to the email as a PDF attachment.

How does controlling work?

The invoices that were created automatically also appear in the billable table. This means you can use the billable table for controlling. You can also filter for the "AutoInvoice" label on outgoing invoices. This displays all invoices that were created via auto-invoicing.