2009 Review of Time & Billing Systems
Managing Time & Billing Improves Efficiency
From the Oct. 2009 Issue
Time and billing products have been around for several years now and there are many choices in the marketplace today to fit your firm’s needs. These products have evolved over time from initially being somewhat crude and non-intuitive to systems that are now much more user-friendly, flexible and capable of meeting the needs of many firms.
In my opinion, time and billing products have two distinct users, with very different needs. The first user is the person entering time. This user is now being served very well in the marketplace. Most, if not all, of the products on the market today provide an intuitive time and expense data entry workflow. The user that is not being served as well is the person responsible for billing the client.
A time and billing product must make it easy for the firm to create a bill based on the specific needs of the firm. The billing process must be flexible and allow the bill to be presented to the client in a timely manner.
I have always been taught that cash is king. Getting bills out the door sooner allows firms to collect cash sooner. Another reason for billing when services are rendered is that it is easier to collect for your services. It is like fine dining: you spend a lot of money on a nice dinner, have an extra glass of wine and splurge on dessert. Once the meal is complete, the waiter brings the check and you don’t feel bad for spending the money on the meal because you still have the satisfaction of the experience. Then you get your credit card statement the following month and review your charges for accuracy and you gasp at the amount you spent. The expense does not seem like such a good deal now. The same goes for billing for services. Bill now, while the client has the satisfaction of receiving your services, not 30 days later.
In addition to looking at the very important billing processes of each of these products, the following key areas will also be addressed:
- Management Functions & Reporting
- Billing Processes
- Support & Help
- Overall Value
As you will notice, there are many choices in the marketplace for time and billing. As a result of this competition. pricing is very competitive. My advice would be to read the reviews based on the features that fit your firm. Find the system that fits your business needs and process, because any difference in price will be recovered in the efficiency your firm will gain.
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- Abak Softwares - Abak 7.0
- Abak is a Canadian company that has developed a time and billing application focused on professional services firms for the U.S. and Canadian markets, including accountants. The application can be installed on a firm’s internal network or can be used by practices as a hosted ASP program.
- AccountantsWorld - Practice Relief
- Practice Relief is the time and billing system in the web-based product suite offered by AccountantsWorld. This system was developed specifically for accountants, not other professional service industries.
- BQE Software Inc. - BillQuick 2009
- BillQuick is a time and billing product designed for professional service firms, including accountants, engineers, lawyers and consultants. BillQuick has leveraged its knowledge and experience from other professional services industries to create a time and billing system that provides specific tools for the public accounting profession.
- Edison's Attic - BigTime
- BigTime is Edison’s Attic’s time and billing system for firms that are using QuickBooks, providing seamless add-on integration to the small business accounting program. So if your firm is a QuickBooks-oriented practice, you should consider looking into this product.
- ImagineTime Inc. - ImagineTime Time & Billing
- ImagineTime’s Time & Billing program is targeted at smaller accounting firms and it gets the job done. There is nothing fancy about this product, but we accountants don’t like fancy, we just want something that works. ImagineTime fits this mold.
- Sage North America - Timeslips by Sage
- Timeslips has a user friendly design and user interface that makes data entry processes for tracking time and expense information simple and straight forward. The system offers multiple entry screen formats, including daily time slips and weekly input screens.
- Tenrox - Tenrox Project Workforce Management
- Tenrox is a web-based (SAS 70 compliant) project management solution that has many modules from which to choose. I will focus on the Timesheet and Billing modules for this review. If your firm is interested in the other modules in the product, please visit their website for further information.
- TPS Software, Inc. - TPS Software
- TPS is a time and billing product that is specifically designed for accountants in public practice. The product is built on Microsoft technologies; therefore the product has nice integration with other Microsoft applications.
- Virtual Software, Inc. - Virtual Time 7 Virtual Expense
- Virtual Software has created a web-based time and billing product that has been included in the Intuit Marketplace and the company is an Intuit Gold Developer.