Last Stage of the Production Process: Post-Production!
Here at Production Solutions, the process for billing a client’s project is completely customized. Our main difference on the market in the post-production realm is that we tailor and adjust to all your needs.
All Account Manager have five to seven days from the maildate to bill the job, so they are responsible for sending all materials to the Accounting team. In order to be prepared to hand it over to Accounting, the Production teams have extremely detailed processes and billing checklists. The top things the AMs must do when ready to bill are check final quantity and costs against the client budget, and ATP. Then they must confirm that the quantities on the invoice match what was mailed. Next the AM will verify all postage statements for accuracy in quantity and cost. Finally, the AM will check the client SOPs for any special requests or needs, including but not limited to sending package samples.
Within the PS Accounting department, there are 3 teams serving different functions: Billing, Accounts Receivable, and Accounts Payable.
The Billing team receives each job from our production teams and is the largest team in our accounting department. To begin billing your project, the Account Manager (AM) will submit your job to billing when the production and mailing is complete. Once over the fence and on the billing side, the AM can no longer change any details of the job because it is temporarily closed for billing. Many clients submit special requests such as: billing phases separately, billing phases together, using a contract number on the invoice, changing the contact person, or including specific text on the invoice.
The billing specialists then audit the job to check and verify that everything is accurate, and all paperwork submitted by production and the suppliers matches. They verify all supplier invoices match the work orders submitted by production and that the postage statements match what the suppliers have indicated was used in the mailings.
Billing will then summarize the postage statements and generate a postage reconciliation and an invoice. Lastly, the team requests any additional documents that the client may need, such as rollout costs or inventory sheets. All additional documents must be accepted by the client to pay the invoice.
Account Receivable Process
Once everything is audited, the billing specialists submit the job to the accounts receivable (AR) team via one file that has all documents compiled together. AR is the second line of defense. They provide a second audit to make sure there are no mistakes, and all paperwork is matching before sending out invoices. AR also maintains the escrow postage accounts for our clients, and they issue escrow statements monthly to see the balances and transactions.
The timing of when the invoice goes out to the client once the project is mailed all depends on the client and the complexity of the mailing. It is tailored just as the billing process is. The best-case scenario is that it is sent the same day – this is if everything matches and is verified with no questions. Worst case, the invoice will be sent to the client within 3-4 days. Typically delays occur if a discrepancy is found in the paperwork that must be cleared up by production, a supplier or the accounting team.
When a bill is sent to the client, the paperwork included varies as well – every job requires a client invoice and then additional paperwork is tailored to the details of the job and what the client asked for. Some paperwork may include postal certifications (which is proof of mailing).
Once the billing process is complete, the billing specialists will produce package costs if requested on the job by the AMs. The AM will submit a request if the package cost is part of the services package/contract for the particular client. The final cost sheet gives a detailed breakdown of the cost of each package, some of which can have 40+ packages in each mailing. Every print component is listed as well as all mailshop and postage costs as well as incidentals such as postal logistics and fees. This gives you a detailed picture of how much each package costs to produce and mail, so that you can see what is profitable and what made an impact.
This step is done after everything is finalized so you have the exact numbers, and it helps our client’s budget and plan for the future to see what they need and want to change. Clients can make accurate decisions based on this sheet because of the detailed data. This is the last document sent to the client and is usually sent within 7 days after the invoice is sent.
Accounts Payable Process
The accounts payable team (AP) is focused on our supplier partners. They are required to make sure everything is together so PS can pay our suppliers on time. They help maintain a close relationship with our supplier network so that we can continue to produce the highest quality of work. They also make sure the suppliers send us the invoices so we can pay our suppliers. They also process all ACH payments for client postage payments and send those funds to each mailshop to buy the postage for our clients’ mailings. And AP also handle the payments client give us through ACH.
There are many moving parts to the billing process. You can compare it to a big puzzle. If we are missing something, we must figure out how to find the missing piece before we can proceed. But each puzzle is unique and customized for YOU!