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Best Practices in Translation: Cogitco Develops Flexible Billing System

Objective: To change single billing system to take into account the varying needs of our clientele.

Clients Served:


In the early stages of its development, Cogitco always operated with a single billing system whereby each job was entered on a separate docket and billed separately. In 2001, the company migrated from an Excel-based billing system to Simply Accounting. Cogitco continued with the same system of one invoice per job request.

In 2004 and 2006, a number of clients from various sectors began to request a simpler billing system in order to facilitate their management of our invoices and lower their costs. Some clients preferred a weekly statement, while others requested monthly invoices.

The Problem

According to our usual billing system, a separate invoice was issued for each job request, following the docket number assigned to each job as it arrived in our inbox. The docket number (from Excel) was linked to the invoice number in Simply Accounting.

One client asked to receive both individual invoices and a summary billing sheet (not an account statement). Another asked to see specific details on the invoice that were not automatically generated by Simply Accounting.

This, in addition to carrying out per-contract billing for some clients and weekly, bi-monthly or monthly billing for others added complexities to Cogitco's management processes. In addition, cost savings to the clients would translate to loss of income or more carrying charges for Cogitco, especially in the case of monthly billing with a 30-day term, which meant that documents translated at the beginning of the month would only be paid in 60 days. On the other hand, good clients found it an irritant to pay "minimum fees" on numerous "micro requests," which had been put in place to cover the administrative costs related to handling documents under 300 words.

The Solution

The billing team (Simply Accounting expert and Accounts Receivable) at Cogitco worked with the translation and project management team to develop new templates that would allow for a new type of docket number that would still be useful from a project management point of view, yet allow Simply Accounting to generate a number of jobs on one invoice.

The way information was entered to Simply Accounting was also modified to enable the client to receive both individual invoices and a summary sheet if requested, and to enable specific details to be generated by the system, when requested.

Management negotiated special billing agreements with these clients to allow for volume discounts and eliminate the minimum fee irritant by radically reducing the number of words subject to the minimum, with a corresponding reduction in the actual minimum charged, if any. Project management procedures were modified to provide for reminders to bill clients according to their preferred frequency.

The Result

Greater efficiencies have been gained all around. The new procedures save time, as well as paper. Our major clients find it much easier to deal with weekly, bi-monthly or monthly billing. In most cases, clients have achieved not only administrative savings, but have reduced their overall translation bill due to the change to the minimum fee. With adjustments to the Simply Accounting invoice templates, our clients are as easily able to follow the information on the new bill as they were with the one invoice per job system.

A quote from one of our clients:
"Thank you Cogitco, it is always a pleasure to do business with you. I really appreciate your 'techspertise'."
Kathleen Rowe
President, NAMMU


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Cogitco is a professional translation agency located in Montréal, Quebec, Canada,
specialized in English to French and French to English translation services, as well as other language combinations.

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