How To Use NetSuite Billing Schedules

If you’re tired of manually creating invoices every month or struggling to keep track of recurring billing cycles, then NetSuite Billing Schedules are definitely worth a look.

Billing Schedules work behind the scenes to ensure that your customers are billed accurately and on time across a given billing period. They can help simplify the process and reduce the risk of errors when billing for subscriptions, maintenance contracts, or installment payments.

In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to start using NetSuite Billing Schedules. We will also look at the pros and cons of using this feature so you are informed enough to make a decision on whether it is right for your business.

What are NetSuite Billing Schedules?

NetSuite Billing Schedules are a feature included in the Advanced Billing module found under the Enable Features menu.

The Billing Schedule defines a schedule for Invoices to be raised over a period of time. They are used for subscriptions or recurring billing scenarios and dictate when and how much an invoice should be raised for.

You can set up Billing Schedules to have an initial down payment then even payments for the remaining term or consistent amounts for the whole period.

You choose what time in the month the invoices should be due for raising and the recurrence frequency.

One major benefit of NetSuite Billing Schedules is that they give a more accurate view of your sales forecast by splitting the revenue over the full term.

Overall, this is a reasonably flexible feature that provides at least some benefit to almost all organizations.

A Step-by Step Guide to Set Up a NetSuite Billing Schedule

To start using the NetSuite Billing Schedules feature, you first need to enable Advanced Billing.

Navigate to Setup > Company > Enable Features. Click the Transactions tab, mark the box for Advanced Billing and click Save.

Where to enable Advanced Billing so you can start using NetSuite Billing Schedules.

Before creating a new Billing Schedule, check the predefined schedules. These may meet your initial needs especially if your billing operations are fairly standard and consistent.

You can find the predefined schedules via Lists > Accounting > Billing Schedules. The predefined options are:

Predefined NetSuite Billing Schedules
Monthly – 12 Months
Quarterly
Twice a Year
Upfront

To create a new Billing Schedule navigate to Lists > Accounting > Billing Schedules > New.

On the Billing Schedule record, populate the following fields:

  • Name – Give a name to the new schedule.
  • Initial Amount – Enter the amount that will be billed on the first invoice. This can be a monetary value or a percentage. If the schedule will be used at header level, however, only percentages can be used here.
  • Initial Payment Terms – This is the payment term to be used on the first invoice.
  • Recurrence Frequency – Select the recurrence frequency. Custom frequencies can be created if needed by selecting Custom.
  • Recurrence Count – This is the number of times an invoice should be generated after the initial amount is billed.
  • In Arrears – When checked the invoice will be dated at the end of the period. When unchecked it will be dated at the beginning of the period.
  • Recurrence Payment Terms – This is the payment term to be used on all subsequent invoices after the initial invoice.

Finally, save your Billing Schedule.

An example of a custom NetSuite Billing Schedule

Private and Public Billing Schedules

Billing Schedules can be marked as either Private or Public.

Private Billing Schedules only show in the list of schedules on the transaction it has been created from. Public Billing Schedules show up on all transactions.

If a schedule is created from an Estimate or Sales Order the user can choose whether it is Public or Private provided it is not a Milestone Billing Schedule.

Auto Creation of Billing Schedules

If a significant portion of your sales revenue is subscription based or recurring in some form, you may want to look at automating the generation of Billing Schedules.

This can be done via SuiteScript and, depending on the complexity, should not be a major piece of work provided your schedules are standardized.

How to Use a Billing Schedule

Once Billing Schedules are created, you need to be aware of two steps in order to put them to use. Applying them to the relevant transactions and generating the due invoices.

Applying Billing Schedules

There are a number of ways to apply a Billing Schedule but the most common is to apply directly to the transaction or default it based off item.

When applying to the transaction you can assign schedules to the transaction total, subtotal or at line level.

Transaction HeaderTo apply a Billing Schedule to the transaction header first enter a date in the Start Date field in the Sales Order header. This will be the date of the Initial Invoice.

Navigate to the Billing subtab of the Sales Order. In the Billing Schedule field, select a schedule from the list or click New to create a new one.
Transaction Line LevelTo apply a Billing Schedule to the line item first enter a date in the Start Date field in the Sales Order header. This will be the date of the Initial Invoice.

On the relevant item row in the Items sublist, locate the Bill column. If the item used has a default schedule this will be populated here. If not, a schedule can be selected from the list.
ItemTo define a default Billing Schedule on an item record, navigate to the Sales / Pricing subtab. Locate the Billing Schedule field and select the relevant schedule.

Raising Invoices from NetSuite Billing Schedules

When an invoice is due to be raised it will appear on the Bill Sales Orders page. Navigate to Transactions > Sales > Invoice Sales Orders.

Filter the list using the Customer and Period fields in the header.

A screenshot of the Bill Sales Orders page in NetSuite

Check the Invoice column next to the item you want to generate an invoice for, then click Submit.

You can also create invoices manually from the Sales Order record.

Navigate to the relevant Sales Order then click one of the following action buttons:

  • Next Bill – Create the next invoice in the schedule.
  • Bill Remaining – Invoice the remaining unbilled amount and end the schedule.

Benefits of a Billing Schedule

Overall, NetSuite Billing Schedules are a really useful additional to the billing functionality in NetSuite.

They will improve your revenue forecast planning and reporting and remove any manual adjustments to these to account for recurring billing.

Invoices are likely to be sent more promptly and less likely to include errors as they are being generated directly from the Sales Orders.

Check out this article to understand the different ways you can actually get your invoices in to your customers mailbox.

The biggest benefit, however, is simply the time saved by using Billing Schedules. Before using them you will have been using manual processes to ensure your customers are being invoiced on time and accurately. This feature could automate that for hundreds or thousands of orders at a time.

Limitations of Billing Schedules

Modifying Billing Schedules after they have been created is difficult. If, for example, there is a change to the value of the order mid way through the billing term, this has to be managed manually.

There is also a limitation to when the invoices are raised. You choose the beginning or end of the period but anything beyond that can be difficult. If, for example, you have irregular periods but want to bill in calendar months, you may struggle.

No solution is perfect though and really Billing Schedules should be viewed as a first step. Once your needs grow and your operations become more complex you will need to start looking at something more substantial.

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