You can manage your vendors and consultants by creating their profiles in Core. Core allows you to track time and expenses for vendors on various projects and, if the contract allows, bill those to the client. In that case, you can pay your vendors after being paid by the client. Core gives you the ability to pull vendor time and expenses on a vendor bill if you need to pay your vendors based on time and expenses charged by them on a project. Alternatively, you can enter your vendor bills directly, just post the relevant accounts and pay the vendor bills.
It is a very common scenario wherein you have a project with a fixed contract amount and you hire consultants to perform portions of that work. The contract amount can cover your consultant fee (external expenses) as well as your fee (internal expenses). Or it might just cover your overall fee without any consultant fee breakdown.
In the first case, the consultant fee becomes part of the contract amount and you can bill it directly to the client. In the second case, you don't need to show the consultant fee to the client. In both cases, you would want to know how much of the cost is internal (employee salaries) and how much external (consultant fees paid by you). So it is a good idea to track the fee separately.
Core lets you track your consultants via project phases, purchase orders or by using budgets. Depending on your preferences and requirements, you must set up the relevant information and items in Core, as explained below.
1. VENDOR SETUP
The first step is to create a vendor record in the Contacts > Vendors screen. There are 3 types of vendors in Core, which determine their profile and functions in Core. If you choose to track time and expenses for your vendors, you can set their bill and cost rates here. If you choose to track payables via vendor bills, you can set the relevant A/P account too. It might be useful to create vendor groups that will help in reporting, filtering data, etc. Check the Core Help for details on creating vendors.
2. PROJECT SETUP
The next step is to create a project from the Projects screen that your vendors will contribute their services to. Check the Core Help for details on creating projects. You can track your vendor expenses on projects either using budgets or phases.
- If you want to use budgets to track your vendor expenses, you must specify the service and expense part of the contract amount under the contract details of the project. The expense portion is related to your vendors.
- Select the project rule 'Include billable expenses in the contract amount'. This allows you to treat the vendor or consultant non-reimbursable expenses as part of your overall contract amount.
- If your contract provides for the vendor expenses or consultant fees to be passed on directly to the client, you can consider those as reimbursable expenses. By default, all reimbursable expenses entered in Core are considered extra and not part of the contract amount.
- If you want, you can create project phases for each vendor/consultant expense and arrange them on the Structure tab. You can allocate specific contract amount to each phase and later track those when billing the client.
3. ESTIMATE SETUP
Typically, projects start with a proposal for the client that can later become the foundation for project contract and budget. To save time and prevent double-entry, Core allows you to create estimates and then convert approved estimates into internal budgets. You can do so from the Estimates screen. Check the Core Help for details on creating estimates.
You can also use this estimate to create manual invoices for approved vendor time and expenses.
4. BUDGET SETUP
Set up a budget to define the cost and revenue benchmarks for your vendors. They are a good way to track the expected revenue or cost of a project against the actuals. Make sure to specify the expense items for vendors and consultants. Later, link the budget to the new project you created for the vendors. This budget can be converted from estimates or created from scratch on the Budgets screen. Check the Core Help for details on creating budgets.
5. PROJECT ASSIGNMENTS
If you choose to assign team members to projects so that only they can work on them, be sure to assign your vendors too. Otherwise, they will not be available to make time and expense entries or create vendor bills for that project. You can also assign specific activity and expense items to the project from the Project Assignments screen. Check the Core Help for details on assigning items to projects.
6. TASK ALLOCATION
Now you can schedule your resources including vendors from the Allocation & Forecasting screen. Either select the vendor or the project the vendor is working on, and list the start and end time of tasks they are expected to do. You can use the budget to allocate tasks quickly. Check the Core Help for details on allocating tasks.
7. FEE SCHEDULES RATES
You can create a unique fee structure with special bill and cost rates for the vendor on a project basis using the Fee Schedules screen. These rates are used for billing the client for the vendor/consultant fee on your hourly jobs or fixed fee jobs (for job costing). Check the Core Help for details on creating fee schedules.
8. PURCHASE ORDERS
Purchase orders are often used for purchasing inventory items from suppliers, but in Core, you can also use them for services you want to buy from consultants. From the Payables > Purchase Orders screen, you can request a vendor to send desired items to a specific address or provide certain services. After receiving them, you can create a vendor bill for that. Check the Core Help for details on creating POs.
9. VENDOR EXPENSES AND BILLS
Reimbursable expenses can be entered in two ways in Core.
- After you receive a bill from your vendor, use the Payables > Vendor Bills screen to enter the vendor bill. Here you select a vendor and activity/expense associated with the bill. Depending on the items you choose, a corresponding time or expense entry is created automatically in the background. The same time and expense entries can be both billable to your client and payable to your vendor. You must approve the entries for billing. Check the Core Help for details on entering bills.
- Alternatively, your vendors can record expense entries in Core using the Expense Entries screen. Later, you can import those into a vendor bill. This also results in having expense entries that are both billable to your client and payable to your vendor. You must approve the entries for billing. Check the Core Help for details on entering expenses.
In the Billing > Invoices > Batch Invoice screen, you will see approved expenses, ready to bill. These can be billed either fully as is or with a % Complete value. For example, if you enter 50%, Core re-calculates the Net Bill and creates an invoice for 50% of the contract amount.
Another option to bill your vendor services and expenses is to create a manual invoice directly from an estimate. Here you can choose the % Done of the estimated item. By default, this column is hidden in the grid, but can be shown from the More menu. Check the Core Help for details on creating invoices.
11. VENDOR PAYMENTS
Core has a 'Pay when Paid' feature that is triggered while recording client payments on invoices with billable vendor expenses on them. You are informed that Core has detected unpaid vendor bills associated with the invoices and you might want to review those now. After receiving the payment, you can decide to pay the relevant vendor from the Bill Payments screen. Check the Core Help for details on paying vendor bills.
12. VENDOR CREDITS
If a vendor has issued you a credit for future services, you can use the Payables > Vendor Credits screen to enter them. If they have issued a refund instead and you use the Core Accounting module, you can deposit that directly into your bank account via the Deposits screen. Check the Core Help for details on entering vendor credits.
13. VENDOR REPORTS
There are many reports in Core that are useful in tracking vendor services and expenses, such as:
- Payables - Vendor Bills, A/P Aging, Credit Register
- 1099/1096 - Vendor
- Expenses by Vendor
There are several dashboard widgets too that can be used to track vendors and their performance in Core. With the right security permissions, you can see those widgets. Check the Core Help for details on dashboard widgets.
The Vendors > Performance screen can also provide important metrics and KPIs that can help you evaluate their role in your company and overall business.