Getting paid – making it easier

Steve Lett, Invennt

Getting paid is extremely important. Invennt’s Steve Lett offers advice on how to ease the process – gathered from years of painful (but successful!) experience at home and abroad.

Know your approval chain –these will include the technical, commercial and financial functions and often each will have to approve your invoice. In international markets this process is often amplified, creating a very long chain. It is therefore essential that you know the full extent of the approval chain and build relationships throughout it.

Make it easy to say yes – often it can feel as though you are faced with a deliberate wall of obstruction when trying to gain approval and payment of your invoices. Whist this can sometimes be the case, it is more likely that this perceived obstruction is actually a lack of understanding, authority, and a requirement to comply with detailed internal procedures and audit. You need to place yourself in the shoes of your approver and do everything you can to make it easy for them to say YES!

How to make it easy?

The factors you need to consider when preparing and submitting your invoices for approval are:

Contractual cover – computer says no.

Quite simply if you do not have contractual cover in the form or a letter of intent, contract/agreement or purchase order there is no point even raising an invoice. It is essential to gain this contractual cover prior to commencing works.

Contractual Awareness – are you entitled to that?

Once you have a contract you have to fully understand its mechanisms for payment, what you are entitled to claim and how your scope of services, programme and deliverables are structured. Any invoice needs to take cognisance of all these matters.

Dates – see you next month.

There will be a project timetable that determines when invoices/applications for payment are to be submitted. You must adhere to these timetables otherwise your invoice/application payment may be rejected until the next cycle.

Progress – if I can’t use it I can’t pay for it.

To enable interim payment through a design stage, at the outset, provide your client with a simple/graphical programme that shows the sub-stages that you progress through in order to complete a defined stage of design.

Deliverables – if I can’t see it I can’t pay for it.

In tandem with the above statement on progress you need to practically articulate how deliverables are going to be produced, where they will be stored/issued and when.

Resources – how many?

Payment on a reimbursable contract can be protracted due to confusion and misunderstanding of the resources deployed. Delivery of design solutions do not follow the same pattern as the delivery of construction so clear explanations of the resources to be deployed should be provided at the outset and subsequently with each invoice.

Change – design development?

Change can be the biggest issue when it comes to obtaining full payment of your invoices. Ensure that all changes have a:

  • Source of instruction
  • Basis of entitlement
  • Build up/supporting information
  • Measurement of progress each month
  • Clear deliverables.

Application for Payment or Invoice?

Clients and contractors are more familiar with applications for payment (AfP) rather than invoices. Issuing and agreeing an AfP is often better than immediately issuing an invoice as it allows for negotiation and agreement without setting off accounting clocks – internally or with HMRC.

The above is an overview of how to ease payment issues. If you would like more detailed advice on how to improve your future payments or assistance in recovering outstanding amounts please contact Steve at