A number of customers use PaperCut successfully for billing clients for their operational printing/copying/faxing/scanning costs for particular projects. For more information about Client Billing, take a look at the Client Billing Print Tracking tour page that includes a number of case studies and fact sheets.
Once you have your shared accounts set up, you can then report on your shared account activity. There are more details about the types of reports that can be run, on the reporting details page under the section ‘Shared Account Based Reports’.
Scenario 1: Billing per Month
If you have a number of clients that you bill by the whole month, then this makes it easy to report on the printing/copying/faxing/scanning for the months in question. In this scenario if you need to bill the client for February and March, then you would go into a suitable Shared Account report - e.g. under Reports → Account → Shared Account Reports → Shared account print/copy/scan/fax - breakdown. You can then use the ad-hoc function to specify the one shared account that represents that client, and you can specify start date of 1st Feb and end date of 31st March.
The Shared Account balance in this scenario isn’t as critical as in the next scenario. It would be your company’s choice whether to set a balance as detailed on the Shared Accounts page. One possible configuration is that if a client has specified that the printing/copying/faxing/scanning costs do not go over $300 per month, then the account can be configured as ‘Restricted’, and then have a Quota of $300 per month applied through the Quota Scheduling documentation.
Scenario 2: Ad-hoc Billing
If your billing requirements are a lot more flexible, then the best way to keep track of when the billing was done, and when the billing period was reset, is to use the Shared Account Balance. As detailed on the Shared Account Details page, the default setup of a Shared Account is that it will be unrestricted, with a balance of $0.
Under the user details, check that their ‘Account Selection’ under Users → [select user] → Details → Account Selection → When shared account is selected is set to ‘Charge Shared Account’. This means that when someone prints a document and charges it to that account, the funds will be taken from the account balance, rather than the user’s personal balance.
When transactions take place (prints, scans, faxes etc), they will take money off the shared account. So you would start off the billing cycle with a balance of $0, then after e.g. 90 days of activity, the account may have a balance of -$455.90. You now want to bill the client, so you would reset the balance of the shared account to $0 under Accounts → [select the shared account] → Adjustments & Charges to show that the client has been billed and is now on a new billing cycle. You could also add a ‘comment’ in the comments section.
You can then run a report from Reports → Account → e.g. Shared account print/copy/scan/fax - breakdown. Select the start date as the last-billed date, and then the end date to be the date and time of the Transaction date when the account was reset - in the above example that would be March 17, 3.15pm. With this method, the costs in the report that is generated should match up with the balance of the shared account before it was zeroed out, since both should be showing the cost of all printing/copying/faxing/scanning jobs since the last bill date.
The cycle then begins again, with users printing/faxing/scanning/copying and charging costs to that account. After X many days, when you come to run the next bill for the client, you would do the same thing, using the start date from the last ‘Billed Client on…’ date and time, and then reset the balance to 0 again for the next run.
Note: the balance of the shared account does not alter the transaction history. In other words if you reset the shared account balance, and then run a report showing the printing/scanning/faxing/copying between date X and Y, the transactions will still show up in the report - they do not ‘blank out’ when you reset the balance. In this way, the shared account ‘balance’ is merely a counter, counting cost from all transactions since the last time it was reset.