Timeslips by Sage 2008

From the Nov. 2007 Review of Time & Billing Systems

Timeslips by Sage 2008 is a proven time and billing product for both accountants and law firms, and it meets the needs of the traveling professional through handheld and remote processing add-ons. It is an excellent option for small service-based businesses that need a workflow-based system or the ability to handle complex contractual billing arrangements. A Single Station license is available for $499.99 and a five-station value pack is available for $899.99. For a network environment, five network station licenses can be purchased for $699.99. Support for network environment installations is $399, and Single Station support is $269.

Ease of Use/Navigation Features -- 5 Stars
Timeslips’ design provides for the needs of users unfamiliar with the complete processing steps to produce bills, collect money and provide reports to management. The use of guides to help manage new entries in Timeslips reduces the likelihood of errors. These guides engage the user to ensure process familiarity and consistency through simple flow diagrams for common actions, such as “Prepare Billing” or “Time and Expense.” In each action set, reports are listed beneath or as part of the action items — a great way to clarify the intent or need of the report. Two customizable dashboards allow for quick access to recent payments, AR details, and clients recommended for collections.

Timekeepers enter their time via the Slip Entry interface. There should be little difficulty in training individuals to correctly enter their time — simply select the client and task, and then fill in the hours worked on that task daily for the reporting period. With the spreadsheet-like design and the ability to create time templates and run timers, users will effectively manage their timekeeping. Billing includes a Q&A process on the slips (the first task is spell checking — an important task given recent “advancements” in phonetic spellings and abbreviations), and several options are available for bill production (by client, by multiple client and by worksheet). The worksheet provides a report for management review of all selected transactions; criteria can be entered and sort options used to customize the report.

Management Functions -- 4.5 Stars
Tools within Timeslips include rate table creation with the ability to set multiple professional rates based on timekeeper, professional level and task code. Automatic holds based on manager-specified threshold values can be entered with the billing arrangements, as can interest calculation methods and distribution methods. The AR tab has several guides to handle the specific tasks involved with the art of business (making and losing money) — write-offs, payment reversals, refunds, credits and entering payments. With payments handled, practice management reports can be generated for collections and performance.

While CRM functions may be stronger in other time and billing packages, Outlook integration and phone dialing both provide useful functionality with regard to client communication. Phone calls and e-mail can be directly tracked with time entries automatically generated. The alerting function allows management to set rules for slip entries and client records, which generate messages to intended recipients. Alerts can track most functions within the application and can monitor across a period of actual dates or a relative duration.

Billing & Reporting -- 5 Stars
Along with the management tools for client billing arrangements, users will find a host of tools for billing preparation based on client needs. Layouts for bills can be selected or customized, and the tool for customization allows the user to select detail levels. Customization provides several advanced features for section development and formatting, and several templates are provided.

Preparation of bills makes full use of guides and wizards, including the billing worksheet, a firm assistant, a billing assistant, and the guides within the navigator. The guides give a stepwise production that incorporates revision needs and final proofing. A final approval process then updates the client record and prepares the bill for printing or electronic distribution. Bills can be undone based on an “Undoable” list, a provision that allows for recent bills to be undone, changed, and reprocessed, which is a necessary feature for many firms.

Reports are made available both through the report listings and the dashboards. Billing documentation can easily be generated through automating processes and as part of the flow given in the navigator, while details regarding the current state of the business are best achieved through the Timeslips Today view. Details regarding each report are integrated with the Help function. Many reports are available for the management of the company and staff. Firms operating with tight controls over time utilization, client service and profitability will be well served
by the selections available.

Integration -- 5 Stars
Several remote processing options are available for integration, access and entry creation when working away from the office. Sage offers an online option called eCenter for entry via browser when connected to the Internet; a laptop-based, standalone install of Timeslips Remote; and mobile products designed specifically for the Palm and Pocket PC handheld devices. Direct integration to Peachtree and QuickBooks allows for bi-directional communication — entries from Timeslips automatically appear in the accounting software, and expenses and payments are recognized and applied in the Timeslips billing process. The additional phone support and Outlook connectivity round out the feature set.

User Support & Help -- 5 Stars
New users are supported with well-designed wizards for setup processes as well as instructional videos. Additionally, the website provides tours, product feedback opportunities, live chat assistance, and an actively maintained knowledgebase. Several users’ guides are included as part of the Help system, and samples and tips of the day are provided for further product clarity. Sage also sponsors a product certification program to encourage businesses to contact and use trained local vendors.

2007 Overall Rating: 5 Stars