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Sage Software — Timeslips

From the November 2005 Review of Time
& Billing Software

Timeslips by Sage has long been the Coca-Cola of the time and billing market.
That is, the name is almost a generic term for time and billing software in
general. The program was first developed in 1985, so it has earned this ubiquity
over the past 20 years. Timeslips is geared toward small and midsize businesses,
with off-the-shelf packages available supporting one, five or 10 users. In addition
to time and expense tracking, budgeting, AR tracking and billing, the system
includes industry-specific templates for a variety of business types, including
accounting and other professional services firms. It also provides pre-designed
billing items for accounting and tax services. With this latest version, pricing
for Timeslips has gone up to $449.99 for a single user; $799.99 for five networked
users; and $1,449.99 for 10 seats. Additional stations can also be added.

Rhonda McIntyre is a technology consultant who assists clients with software
evaluation, selection, implementation and ongoing support. She is currently
a sole practitioner who does work in Ohio with some work in surrounding states,
and she continues to work closely with her previous employer, a regional accounting
firm. She says that she has worked with Sage products for quite some time, and
has used many time and billing applications over the years. When asked what
drove her to select Timeslips, she said, “I received a mailer and did
some research as well as talking to others in the same industry.”

McIntyre says Timeslips is very flexible, fits many different situations and
meets her needs, adding that it does a “better job with the billing piece
than many high-end products on the market at a much lower total cost of ownership.”
She has found great benefit in the program’s setup capabilities, from
multiple billing rules to master clients to customized reports.

Ease of Use/Program Set Up — 4.5 Stars
Timeslips is fairly simple to install on workstations, with an interface that
guides users through initial entry of firm information, timekeepers, time and
expenses, and other data. As noted above, the system includes templates for
a few types of professions, including accounting, legal, construction, architecture
and computer consulting firms.

For the most part, these templates help make the technical lingo consistent
with the profession, such as using the word client in an accounting firm, as
compared with the term case in a legal firm or project or task in a construction
firm. The templates also aid in setting up commonly billed activities, such
as tax preparation, write-up and other typical work product. Unfortunately,
the setup wizard doesn’t use intuitive terminology in its own right, opting
to use the phrase “new database” instead of “new company,”
which most small business software users would probably be more comfortable
with. But this is a minor point.

Timeslips’ user interface combines a Basic Navigator subwindow that
can also be set to appear as a vertical menu, displaying key functions of the
workflow cycle and allowing quick access to these tasks, along with the primary
program window that uses traditional icons and pull-down menus. Time and Expense
data-entry activities are easily performed through simplified data-entry forms
that utilize pull-down selection lists for user, task and client, as well as
the ability to set non-billable time, holds, recurring billing or make adjustments.
Alternatively, timekeepers can enter time and expense data through a spreadsheet
view, allowing edits or batch time entry for multiple or single employees. Timekeepers
can also enter optional activity description, estimated time, reference notes
and other comments, with control over which lines appear on billing documents.
Security controls enable limiting access to override and other managerial features.
In addition to stopwatch-like task timers, Timeslips allows multiple instances
of these timers to be open concurrently, if desired. The TSTimer feature also
offers an additional time tracking function. Remote access capability enables
users to enter time and expense data when away from the office.

The system offers some customization capabilities, including the dockable
Navigator and the ability to move and rename components. An interesting customization
feature in Timeslips 2006 is its ability to detect unused features and offer
the user the ability to remove them from menus or help the user learn more about
the features.

Management Functions — 5 Stars
Another customization feature that enhances managerial supervision is Timeslips
Today, which provides a user-customized dashboard that can display slip totals,
budget figures, AR transactions, account balances and other frequently referenced
data. The system also includes analysis functions that can track overhead costs
and monitor productivity on firm and employee levels, and help manage AR and
billing functions, including retainer funds, write-offs, partial payments, credits,
refunds, aging and interest on a per-client basis. The system supports up to
20 rates that can be defined per client, staff member or task item. The program
also includes flat rate billing and supports contingency fees. Through use of
the spreadsheet time data interface or the Slip List, management can review,
sort and filter staff time and expense entries.

Billing & Reporting — 5 Stars
The system’s billing program allows generation of invoices at any time
and allows generation of e-mailable bills and statements. The billing utility
allows drag-and-drop design of bill formatting, along with a spellchecker and
other features that ease the process, such as the system’s pre-bill worksheet
that enables reviewing of client billable and non-billable activities before
actual bill creation. Billing can be performed by batch or filtered to run for
only specified clients, certain activities or staff members. The Billing Assistant
provides help while performing these activities.

Timeslips includes more than 120 pre-designed invoices, reports and client
letters that can be printed from any screen and can be customized using the
built-in Report Designer, which works similarly to the program’s Bill
Designer, to allow the creation of detailed and summary level reports and graphs.
Newly added drill-down capability helps users get to specific transactions and
time or expense slips from reports.

Integration — 5 Stars
Timeslips can print to Excel or e-mail and offers strong integration with Outlook’s
calendaring functions as well, sharing tasks, appointments and meetings between
the programs. The program can also export to *.RTF format and integrates with
more than 20 accounting systems. For remote access and data entry, Timeslips
can be used with PDAs.

User Support & Help — 4.5 Stars
Timeslips includes numerous help features such as wizards for completing setup,
billing and reporting tasks, and context-specific help and right-click menus
that provide information and shortcuts for virtually every part of the program.
The system’s help utility is well-designed, with a traditional searchable
index, as well as an online user’s guide, how-tos, more than 25 training
videos and links to various sections of the Sage Software web site. Support
plans are offered through the company and through its resellers. Sage also offers
live and online training, and resellers offer installation assistance.

2005 Overall Rating: 5 Stars