We work a lot with companies invoicing time (consulting companies, lawyers, development teams, outplacement). For them, we developed a SaaS software helping to automate the invoice production (account receivables).
Invoicing time means preparing timesheets using time tracker software, project management software, CRM tools, and classical accounting tools to produce the invoices. An example: While consultants work, they frequently must open their time tracker software, start and stop timers, register tasks into projects, and produce reports.
Discussing with our customers and leads, we discovered that writing an invoice with the usual software tools takes an average of 10 minutes.
We, and our leads and customers, consider this to be too long. The goal we set is 20 seconds for invoice production and sending it to the Customer.
But how can we achieve this?
Our idea was to use a voice-based tool to register everything while you work, in a simple but effective way: Amazon Alexa with Amazon Echo device.
What it does
Alexa Skill: moduulo Time Tracker. The first part is a voice-based time tracker skill: moduulo Time Tracker (BETA). This skill registers all your tasks into projects which you can manage in our SaaS Software. When starting a new task, the skill checks the project's existence or creates a new one. Website: https://agency.moduulo.net. As a second part, we created a website where they can have an overview of running tasks, projects, invoices, and customers. TEMPORARY (This will be implemented later in the moduulo Time Tracker skill): After using the moduulo Time Tracker skill the user has to specify details of the project’s customer and its company. Alexa Skill: moduulo Invoice Generator. As a final part and hackathon submission, we added moduulo Invoice Generator. Using this voice skill, you automatically generate your invoices in only 15-20 seconds. This new skill is based on Alexa Conversation (Beta). It reads Company data, Customer data, Project data, Prices, and much more from AWS DynamoDB using Lambda functions and generates the invoice. Upon request (during the conversation), the skill can send the invoice directly to the Customer via e-mail.
moduulo Invoice Generator is our contribution to #AmazonAlexaConversionsChallenge
How we built it
The backend tech stack is Alexa voice skill and Alexa Conversation (Beta), AWS Lambda, AWS DynamoDB, Claudia.js for API deployment, Node.js for API and skill development, and AWS Cognito. The frontend tech stack is React, and AWS Amplify for Auth and AWS API.
Challenges we ran into
From a CEO point of view: the only challenge we run in is the current challenge #AmazonAlexaConversionsChallenge :-)
From a developer point of view: We had to learn to build the conversation skill, in combination to connect it to various AWS Lambda functions to update our DynamoDB database. We also had to add the main screens of our AWS hosted SaaS frontend for the handling of Customer data and Company data.
Accomplishments that we are proud of
We are proud to see the first MVP working. And we have the proof that it is possible to generate invoices in under 20 seconds.
What we learned
Voice-based tools are not only a Gartner confirmed trend, but they help to make business processes easy. Tedious administrative tasks turn into fun work, just because an intelligent helper, Alexa, is doing the repetitive work for you. Also, first time experience with creating these Alexa skills were accomplished.
What's next for moduulo Invoice Generator
In the next couple of days, we continue developing our SaaS software, adding new views for managing the business processes via Browser and Mobile. Also, some bug fixes and adding personalized welcome message, making hardcoded entries to dynamic after database update and so on.
We already signed with four trial customers who committed to paid trials. Our primary focus is learning with these customers and enhances our voice-skills.
We will implement more voice-based skills to allow our customers to manage their businesses without any software.