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Introduction to the Payment Module

The Payments module provides a general-purpose interface to your accounting system. It tracks your accounts (customers), receivables (invoices), and payments (both e-commerce and off-line).

Terms

  • Account
    An account is a customer, person, or organization with which you have a business relationship. The account balance is the difference between the receivable totals and the payments on the account.
  • Accounting Code
    An accounting code is a way of classifying individual receivable items to allow for more filtering in reports, or for calculation of specialized surcharges such as sales taxes.
  • Payment
    A payment is a record that an amount was received from an account. A payment is associated with an account, but can also be associated with a particular receivable if you want to track whether particular items are paid for, rather than just the account as a whole.
  • Receipt
    A receipt is basically the same as a receivable, below. Essentially, a receivable becomes a receipt once it is paid.
  • Receivable (or Invoice)
    A receivable is a statement of an amount owing from an account; it consists of one more more line items that are totaled into the total amount due. The system also supports payables, which are just like receivables, but in the opposite sense: a payable describes an amount owing to the account holder, rather than from.
  • Receivable Item
    A receivable item is a single line-item on a receivable. It provides more information on the details of the purchase.

Receivable Status

Receivables can be in one of several states, described below. The most important one from an accounting perspective is "active".

  • active - these are good receivables that will be used by the accounting system.
  • inactive - these are receivables that are being assembled, but are not yet in a complete state. They are not used by the accounting system. Note that abandoned shopping carts will show up as inactive receivables.
  • processing - these receivables were sent to an e-commerce payment gateway, but notification has not been heard back. This usually happens because the customer abandoned their payment, or was declined. However, it can also happen if the browser session was closed before the payment gateway replied to the website with notification of successful payment, or if the user is still there completing payment.
  • canceled - these receivables have been manually marked as bad, and will not be used by the accounting system.

Finding Invoices

You have several ways to query for invoices in the system:

  1. search for recent invoices
  2. search for invoices in a date range
  3. look up a particular invoice or receipt number
  4. search for account names

When searching for invoices in a time span, you can also specify the receivable status.

Search results are displayed under different tabs. Not all tabs will be available in every case. If multiple tabs are available, you can use them to quickly switch between different views. For instance, if viewing an invoice, you can switch to the account statement, or to a list of payments against that invoice.

Account Tab

The account statement is a summary of the account, listing all active receivables and all completed payments, along with the balance owing. The account statement only includes those items that affect the account balance. Non-active receivables, and invalid payments are not shown (but can be found under other tabs).

(If an account search has turned up multiple matching accounts, you may have to select one first.)

Invoice Tab

The invoice tab displays the selected receivable (or a list of receivables to choose from, if one has not been selected). It also summarizes any payments that have been made against the selected receivable.

The receivable status can be changed here. WARNING: this may change the account statement.

A list of payments against the selected receivable is also summarized here.

Payments Tab

Payments on the account or receivable are listed here. Click the invoice number to jump to the receivable view. Click the payment status to edit that payment. Click "+Add payment" to add a new payment to the account.

If you add a payment on the account, you will get a form to provide the following information:

  • amount - note that you can enter negative amounts to reverse previous payments, or apply credits to the account.
  • method - how the payment was made
  • status - the state of the payment. For good payments, the status should be "paid". To cancel a previous payment, set its status to "canceled". To mark a payment as tentatively received (eg. a cheque that has not been cleared), use "received". The status of "suspicious" is normally used to flag automatic e-commerce payments that could not be validated through the gateway. These should be checked, and then updated to "paid" or "canceled".
  • invoice - a payment can optionally be tied directly to an invoice so that you can quickly tell whether a particular receivable was paid. This is optional; all payments are recorded against the account in any case.
  • note - it is often useful to include notes for tracking or auditing purposes
  • post-processing - check this if you want your system to perform any extra automatic processing functions that normally occur following a successful payment. (For example, email notifications, activations, etc.) Post-processing is only performed if it is a good payment (status paid).

You will get the same form if editing an existing payment. However, it will not let you edit the payment amount. This is to ensure that the history of payment activity remains clear. If you need to correct a bad payment, you can do one of two things:

  1. cancel the payment, and add a new payment with the corrected values
  2. enter another payment for the difference in the amount actually paid (can be positive to raise the amount paid, or negative to reduce the amount paid).

The second method gives a slightly better audit trail, since the original payment is left untouched.

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