FreshBooks and SageOne Help Business Owners Collaborate with Customers and Subcontractors

Our review of SaaS accounting solutions has focused on tools to help manage a general ledger and create financial reports, but many self-employed individuals and micro-businesses need a more basic day-to-day solution to help them bill customers, track receivables, and manage projects.  While many applications can meet the needs of this segment, including the lower tier versions of QuickBooks Online, Xero, and Kashoo, two popular applications which are designed for non-accountants who need to accumulate transaction data are FreshBooks and Sage One.

FreshBooks (www.freshbooks.com)

Started in 2003 by former graphic designer Mike McDerment in his parents' basement outside Toronto, FreshBooks is a very popular solution for freelancers, consultants, and micro businesses who use subcontractors.  The application was initially focused on creating estimates, tracking work, billing customers, and collecting payments, but over the years has grown to include expense management, bank feeds, and a wide range of third-party solutions to meet many different needs. 

FreshBooks helps users track time entries, manage and rebill expenses, and share documents with clients and team members from a web-based platform.  By default, FreshBooks delivers invoices to clients from an included portal, but documents can also be e-mailed to clients, or printed and mailed.  The company provides customers with an optional service where FreshBooks will print a completed invoice, put it in a window envelope along with a preaddressed envelope for payments, affix a stamp, and mail the invoice to the user’s customer.  Users pay $2.29 per invoice, and the invoices are usually processed and mailed the next business day.

The company has a multi-client interface which allows accountants to use a single login to access shared data.  The FreshBooks Accountant Network is a group which helps accounting professionals learn more about the product.  Once accountants have completed the certification training, they can create a profile in the program’s accountant directory to help them find new clients.

Plans start at free (for users with very limited activity) and go all the way up to $39.95 per month for an account which includes five users, an unlimited number of customers, and provides the ability to do basic project management.

Sage One (www.sageone.com)

Business software publisher Sage is known for its on-premises applications which include Sage 50 (formerly known as Peachtree or Simply Accounting), Sage 100 (MAS 90/200), Sage 300 (ACCPAC), Sage 500 (MAS 500), and Sage ERP X3.  While these applications are sold at retail or through value added resellers, the company identified a need for a solution which helps entrepreneurs manage their projects, track expenses, accumulate time and expense information, bill customers, and monitor financial results.  The company created Sage One as a global platform for micro businesses after spending over a year studying the business processes of creative professionals like event planners, multimedia consultants and graphic designers.  Sage One was initially released in the UK, followed closely by the U.S. product launch, and is developed by a number of teams around the world (the U.S. version is managed by a team at the Sage campus near Atlanta).

Available U.S. versions of Sage One include Sage One Invoicing ($9/mo) and Sage One Accounting Standard Edition ($24/mo).  The invoicing product is designed to allow users to manage contacts, create quotes and invoices, track receivables, and optionally accept payments via credit card (PayPal or Sage Payment Services). Sage One Accounting Standard also provides income and expense with automated download of bank/credit card transactions, 5GB of file sharing space, unlimited collaborators (contractors, employees, and clients), project/task tracking, and basic financial reports.

The Company launched the free Sage One Accountant Edition in 2013, which provides single sign on access to all company data where the subscriber has designated the accountant as their financial advisor. Accounting professionals can learn more about Sage One Accountant Edition, educational opportunities, as well as accountant programs for other Sage solutions by visiting www.sageaccountantsnetwork.com

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