Progress invoicing in QuickBooks for Mac 2011 and earlier

Editor’s note: This is the manual process for progress invoicing you can do for Quickbooks for Mac 2011 and earlier. If you have QuickBooks for Mac 2012, then you can use the new progress invoicing feature.

Progress invoicing, or “progress billing,” refers to billing progressively “towards completion a percentage at a time” (wikiCFO.com 05/15/2010). In QuickBooks usage, “progress invoicing” refers specifically to invoicing from an estimate in stages instead of for the full amount of the estimate.
This method of invoicing is particularly suitable for projects that have multiple phases and that continue over an extended period. Construction companies and other contractors commonly use progress billing. However, it’s also appropriate for large, multifaceted graphic-design projects, web-design projects, architects’ work, and similar jobs.
While QuickBooks for Mac doesn’t have the built-in progress-invoicing feature that Windows versions have, creating progress invoices is relatively straightforward.

Do-it-yourself progress invoicing

Beppe, an expert contributor on Intuit’s QuickBooks for Mac Community, has shared steps he follows for progress invoicing. The steps below are based on Beppe’s originals, as well as on information found in the QuickBooks 2010 for Mac user’s guide.

  1. Prepare and complete an estimate (Customer > Create Estimates) for the customer job. If you want, you can send the estimate to your customer, but it’s really just for your own purposes.
  2. When it’s time to issue the first invoice, open the estimate you created and click “Create Invoice.” (You can easily locate an estimate using the Transaction Center or Customer Center; just double-click the estimate to open it.) QuickBooks copies all of the information from the estimate into the invoice, but every entry is editable.
  3. Adjust line-item amounts as needed.
    • You can use QuickMath in QuickBooks number fields to bill a percentage of the estimate’s total. For example, to bill 30% of an original unit entry of 50, click next to the unit amount, press *.3, and tab out of the field (or hit Enter). The quantity recalculates.
    • To help with your recordkeeping and for your customer’s information, you can state the percentage either in the description or in a custom column field you’ve created and added to your custom invoice template (in Layout Designer).
  4. Save the invoice and send it to your customer.
  5. When it’s time to issue another progress invoice from that same estimate, follow steps 2 through 4 again. (This time, you might want to indicate both the percentage being invoiced this time and the total percentage that has been invoiced from the same estimate so far.)
  6. Optional: Once you’ve invoiced everything from that estimate, open it once more, uncheck the “Active” checkbox, and save the estimate again.

Extra tip: QuickBooks 2010 for Mac, unlike previous versions, allows multiple estimates for one customer job. If your project is particularly large and has multiple phases that are handled independently (for example, the client gives approval at the end of each phase to continue to the next one), you could issue a separate estimate for each phase and use this progress invoicing method for each phase’s estimate.

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About Debi Calvet

Debi Calvet was a small-business owner for nearly 14 years, most recently co-owning a creative-services firm that developed brand identity, Web sites, and promotional and advertising materials for other businesses. QuickBooks for Mac was the only accounting software her businesses used. As an active participant in Intuit’s QuickBooks for Mac Community, Debi enjoys helping users solve their problems. Her husband, however, suspects that she enjoys the forum a little too much. See all of Debi's Articles

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