From the March 2013 Review of SaaS Small Business Accounting systems.
FreshBooks is a cloud accounting application which started as a tool for managing invoicing, collections, and revenue tracking for small businesses. The product has grown over the last ten years to include time tracking, expense management, bank imports and integration with the BaseCamp Classic project management tools.
The company now boasts five million users (including users tracking their time and their customers). Long ago, the company moved out of founder and CEO Mike McDerment’s parents’ basement, and has been recognized by a number of major media outlets like USA Today, Fast Company, Bloomberg, ZDNet, and Mashable for its ease of use.
[Read a "First-Hand Perspective" about an accountant using FreshBooks for her clients.]
Instead of focusing on depth of features for accounting professionals, FreshBooks markets directly to end users by promoting its ease of use and by citing their internal statistics which show that, “the average FreshBooks user gets paid 11 days faster and saves eight hours a week doing invoices,” as compared to previously used solutions. FreshBooks also makes it easy for customers to pay with credit, as it integrates with a wide range of merchant service accounts.
Basic System Functions: 4 Stars
FreshBooks is one of the easiest applications to use included in this review. Users with no financial background can create, distribute, and collect invoices using this tool with almost no training. Invoices are based on customizable templates, and users can add details about their business as well as a logo to give the invoices a very professional look. User menus are not customizable, and a dashboard showing a fixed set of key performance indicators is shown in a screen called “the Account Overview.”
The product is designed for small businesses, (e.g. integration with BaseCamp Project Management), these industry specializations would be useful to almost any business user.
FreshBooks supports all major Web Browsers, and has a number of available mobile apps, including company-provided apps for iOS, and Google’s Chrome browser. Users who do not want a separate app can also access their FreshBooks portal through the browser on almost any online mobile device.
Although FreshBooks is a Canadian company, the company’s primary servers as well as the backup servers are housed at two different public data centers which are more than 100 miles apart. If the primary data center has a catastrophic failure which overcomes the redundancies built into each site, the backup servers are configured to automatically handle traffic as the primary server.
The product has an audit trail (referred to as the “autobiography” of each transaction), and can be accessed for each record in the application. The company also keeps logs of every user login and IP address, although there is not a formal, user-facing report which shows the changes made to all records over a period of time.
FreshBooks supports billing and collecting receivables in multiple currencies), and although it is possible to use FreshBooks with multiple profit centers, there is not a simple way to separate results for each unit and still see the combined results for all divisions.
There is not a maximum number of employees who have access to a company, however, FreshBooks charges an extra $10 per month for each additional staff employee user. Users can have simultaneous access to the database; however, no two users can simultaneously post to the same database record.
Core Accounting Capabilities: 4 Stars
Freshbooks is designed for simplicity, and is primarily built around billing and collecting receivables from customers. As such, it is primarily a “forms oriented” application, and it is difficult to even find debits and credits in the application. The product does an excellent job of creating, distributing, and making it easy for customers to pay invoices.