The "after invoice installment paid" workflow trigger can run actions based on your client paying an installment in a payment plan. This gives you the ability to hold off on certain actions until a client makes a deposit, for example.
This capability is powerful and opens up many possibilities in your workflows, but it can also lead to errors if not set up properly. Getting the hang of workflows with payment plans can be a bit tricky, so here's our list of seven "rules" to follow for success!
⚠️ Heads up! This article covers advanced techniques in Dubsado and assumes you are confident working with workflows, payment plans, invoices, and proposals.
Rule #1: To trigger an action based on an installment, you must specify a payment plan in the workflow template.
At the top of the workflow template builder, there is a dropdown where you can select a payment plan template. If there is no payment plan selected, the "after invoice installment paid" trigger will NOT be available to use in the workflow.
Not every workflow needs a payment plan! If you just need to trigger an action based on the client paying off the entire invoice, you can use the "after invoice paid in full" trigger and skip specifying a payment plan entirely.
The determining factor is whether or not you want to trigger actions in that workflow based on a specific partial payment toward the invoice, like the client paying the first 50% installment as a deposit.
Rule #2: A workflow with a payment plan will automatically create an invoice.
When you apply a workflow with a payment plan to a project, it will automatically create an invoice for $0.00 on the project and add the payment plan. The workflow is setting up the invoice and payment plan ahead of time so that it is ready to watch for your client to make their payments.
You have two options for adding line items to this invoice:
Use a proposal. When the proposal is submitted, any selected packages will be added right onto the invoice created by the workflow.
Open the invoice inside the project and manually add line items or packages.
⚠️ Heads up! This rule assumes that the project does NOT already have an invoice when the workflow with a payment plan is applied. If a project already has a primary invoice, the workflow payment plan will be applied to it (and replace the existing payment plan if there is one). Working with multiple invoices and workflows requires thorough testing!
Rule #3: If you are using a proposal with a workflow that has a payment plan, you MUST leave the payment plan blank in the proposal settings.
This rule applies to:
Proposals you send through a workflow with a payment plan.
Public proposals that start a workflow with a payment plan.
If you have a payment plan specified on BOTH the proposal template AND the workflow, the payment plan on the proposal will override the payment plan set up by the workflow. This will cause an error on any workflow actions triggered by payment plan installments.
If you do have a payment plan specified in your proposal template settings, just click the blue X to remove it and save the template.
Rule #4: The create invoice action (and other specific scenarios) will not work with the invoice installment trigger.
In some cases, a second invoice is created in addition to the primary invoice being watched by the workflow. In these scenarios, the "after invoice installment paid" trigger will not work.
The most common example is using the Create Invoice action. This action will always create a new invoice, separate from the one set up by the workflow if it has a specified payment plan.
Since the workflow won't be watching the payment plan on the invoice created by the Create Invoice action, that action is not compatible with using the "after invoice installment paid" trigger.
A good workaround is to use a proposal with a single required package instead, since sending a proposal through the workflow is compatible with the invoice installment trigger. Below are examples of workflow scenarios that do and don't work with the invoice installment trigger:
✅ Scenarios that work:
Sending a proposal through a workflow (with NO payment plan on the proposal)
Manually adding line items or packages to the invoice created by the workflow
Setting a workflow with a payment plan as the default workflow on a public proposal
Setting a workflow with a payment plan as the default workflow on a public proposal that is attached to a scheduler (with or without a required deposit on the scheduler)
⛔️ Scenarios that create additional invoices and will not work:
Using a create invoice action in a workflow with a payment plan
Sending a scheduler through the workflow that has an attached proposal and/or required deposit
Starting a workflow with a payment plan from a lead capture that is attached to a scheduler with a required deposit
These examples are just a starting point. The best way to find out if a certain workflow setup will work is to test it!
Rule #5: Do NOT remove the payment plan on an invoice created by the workflow.
You can edit installments within the payment plan (change the due date, amount, or reminders) on the invoice after it's been created by the workflow, BUT deleting any of the installments or selecting a new payment plan will cause errors.
Rule #6: A workflow can only accept one payment plan.
Just like proposals, a workflow template can only work off of one payment plan. Depending on your offerings and your process, you may need to get creative with different versions of your workflow for different payment plans.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution here, but one approach is to create a different version of your workflow for each payment plan you want to offer.
Rule #7: Applying a second workflow with a payment plan to a project will override the payment plan set up by the first workflow.
One of our favorite strategies is building workflows in phases. This means creating a series of shorter workflows for each main "phase" of your process instead of creating one long workflow. However, this strategy can pose challenges when it comes to the invoice installment trigger.
If you can, only specify the payment plan on the workflow where the invoice is first needed, such as the workflow where you send the proposal to the client. In any additional workflows that you plan to apply to the same project, leave the payment plan setting blank.
You could run into errors if you specify the same payment plan on additional workflows that will be applied to the same project, depending on the situation. In general, if all of the actions in the previous workflow will have finished running by the time the next workflow is applied, errors are much less likely. As always, our advice is to test thoroughly!
How do I test my workflow?
To test your workflow, you'll want to apply it to a project where you are the client. Specifically for testing with payment plans, you'll want to make sure your invoices look correct and that you aren't seeing any errors in the workflow. You can manually apply a payment to an invoice to set off any payment-related triggers. We have a great webinar on testing workflows here!
What if there is already a primary invoice on a project when I apply a workflow with a payment plan?
If you already have a primary invoice on a project and then apply a workflow with a payment plan, the workflow will add its payment plan to the primary invoice. If the existing primary invoice already has a payment plan, the workflow will replace it with its own payment plan.
I have the same exact payment plan set on my proposal and in my workflow. Why am I still getting an error?
If you are sending a proposal through a workflow with a payment plan, you MUST remove the payment plan from the proposal, even if it's the same payment plan you have on the workflow. Even though the invoice will look the same, on the backend, the workflow's payment plan was technically overridden by the payment plan you had set on the proposal!
If I select a payment plan inside the Create Invoice action will it work with the "after invoice installment paid trigger?"
No. This will just add a payment plan to the additional invoice created by the Create Invoice action. The workflow will still be watching the primary invoice.
This is a bit overwhelming. Where can I get help?
We totally understand that wrapping your head around workflows with payment plans can be tough, especially if you have a complex process! With so many possible scenarios that can affect how payment plans and workflows interact, we can't address every one here.
So we are here to help! Please write in to our chat support at any time or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also have free 1:1 screen share sessions available. If you want to book a screen share, you'll get the most out of the session if you have already had a go at building your workflow so that our team can take a look!