Different firms have different requirements for their bill templates.
It is always better to start from the default Centerbase bill template and work with the firm on what changes are needed. Try to give them examples that show various features (fees and expense on one bill, trust activity, payments received, etc) and have them mark up needed changes. This allows you to determine what is an important difference and what is not. Many consultants spend a long time on changes to make a template look EXACTLY like the firms current bill and realize later that many of that was unnecessary (or worse, that the firm has always wanted to change that but couldn't in the old system). This also gives you a clear list of items to complete.
If a firm currently has multiple different templates, determine how they decide what template to use. Often times, this logic can be built into a single template that just hides/shows things based on a setting on the matter or bill itself. This can make it easier for you to maintain because a small change doesn't have to be applied to 5 different templates, it can just be made in one and show up on all of them. This can also make it easier on the firm as they don't have to remember to set a special bill template on a client/matter/bill.
Features that are available
There are various things that can be shown on a bill template. Work with your firm to determine which of these they are using in their current system:
- Columns on Fees vs Expenses - Many firms hide the timekeeper, quantity, and price on expenses and only show the date, description and total. Find out what columns are needed for both. Are there circumstances where these would change (such as on flat fee bills or bills with primary and secondary codes/UTBMS)
- Additional Information - By default, Centerbase prints the bill-to name/address, the matter name, the issue date, the bill number, and the due date. Does the firm need more information on their bill? Do they need it all the time or only for certain types of matters?
- Logo - Do they use a logo on their bills or just the firm name? Make sure to get a sufficiently high quality version of the logo that can be uploaded and sized appropriately.
- Pre-bills VS Posted Bills - It is possible to show different information on a pre-bill vs a posted bill. This includes additional basic information about the bill/matter/client as well as extra columns. Some firms like this options and others prefer the pre-bill to look as much like the posted bill as possible so they can know what their customers are going to get.
- Optional Sections - Determine which (if any) of these optional sections the firm wants to show. Do they want them all the time or only for certain matter/pre-bills/etc? :
- Staff Summary - Shows a breakdown, by timekeeper and rate, of total hours and total amount billed
- Expense Summary - Shows a breakdown, by billing code, of total expense amount
- Matter Statement of Account - Shows a list of all unpaid bills for the matter. Only prints if there are open bills. Does not show credit balances.
- Remittance Copy - Basic page printed at the end of the bill that can be included with a payment that the client mails in
- Cover Page - Cover that prints before the bill with a basic break down of: previous balance, new payments/credits, new fees/expenses, trust replenishment required, total due.
- Centerbase does not support page headers / footers (such as page numbering). So there is not a way to have something print on every page of an invoice.
- The cover page for a consolidated bill (that shows a summary of the bills that were consolidated and their information) is not currently customizable. Neither by a consultant nor by Centerbase.