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Groupe AGI — Abak Software

the Nov. 2006 Review of Time & Billing Systems

The Abak
Time and Billing system from Groupe AGI, Inc., provides an integrated time and
expense management program for professional services firms. The system, which
is offered in English and French, utilizes a variety of timesheets and expense
reports and allows detailed management of productivity and pass-through billing
of client-related expenses. Abak is available in Professional and Enterprise
versions, which provide the same general functionality including integration
with payroll systems, but with added features such as support for remote access
and increased management reporting available in the Enterprise system. Either
version of the system can support a virtually unlimited number of clients, staff,
pay rates and expense items. The program’s monthly service starts at $8
per employee.

Ease of Use/Navigation Features — 4.5 Stars
After initial setup of staff, clients, billing rates and expense codes, the
user is presented with a customizable environment, which includes a navigation
menu on the left-hand side that provides access to the system’s primary
functions. Primary functions include icons for going to timesheet entry, expenses,
management functions, the user’s datebook, which provides good appointment/task
tracking, or any system shortcut the user wants to include. The datebook is
useful for employee collaboration and to schedule meetings, etc. The system’s
menu-level customizability is also a great feature.

The program includes well-designed client and project screens that display
information in a spreadsheet format with filtering and query capabilities. Likewise,
all data-entry sheets are efficiently configured in a manner that greatly resembles
Outlook, offering tabs to move between functions, which speeds the process of
growing comfortable with the system. The program’s timesheet screens are
also well-designed, simplifying data entry and providing the user with easy
access to prior slips with drilldown capability to client, job or project details.
The system’s three options for time data entry — Fast Entry, Batch
Entry and Detailed — also provide great flexibility, offering the user
a choice of methods by which to input data, whether for him or herself, or for
multiple employees at one time. The Detailed entry system can also act as a
helpful review tool.

Management Functions — 5 Stars
As noted earlier, the system can accommodate virtually any number of clients,
staff, projects, expense codes and rates per staff member, and offers the ability
to set adjusting factors on a recurring or one-time basis. Abak supports time-based,
flat-rate, consolidated and split billing options, with all data processed as
it is entered, which speeds the management review process. New for 2006, users
can also set minimum billable amounts for activities. In addition to traditional
expense tracking and pass-through billing with markups, the program can track
third-party expenses for outsourced or contracted parties.

Among the more notable management features, Abak includes a variety of tools
that assist in monitoring employee time and efficiency, with an approval process
that can help in maintaining client budgets. New features also provide enhanced
review functions, including approval by project, project phasing, increased
budget controls, and enhanced project management capabilities. A variety of
tables and summary screens with drilldown functionality further strengthen the
managerial focus of the program. The Abak system also includes HR-like functions
including employee benefit tracking, which is a welcome addition to a time and
billing application.

“Abak allows us to control which clients, and specifically, which projects
one of our consultants enters their time for,” said Bill Onion, managing
member of BriteSkies (,
a management and information technology consultancy in Cleveland, Ohio. “As
a professional services firm, we rely heavily on billable hours as our source
of revenue. Therefore, we must ensure that a consultant enters their time accurately
(to the right client and project) and quickly (to make it easier to enter time
and notes). We also keep detailed notes related to the work done for each timesheet.”

Billing & Reporting — 5 Stars
Abak Time and Billing includes more than 200 customizable invoices and report
templates that include AR, AR aging, budgeting, resource productivity, WIP,
WIP aging and other options, all of which can be further customized from within
the system or through Crystal Reports. All invoices and financial and time-based
reports provide drilldown capabilities while viewed on-screen, allowing quick
access to detailed data and timesheets, as well as the ability to manually override
rates and times, change or add markups, or perform write-offs if the user has
appropriate security access rights. Invoices can be processed at any time or
can be set to automatically run. Abak also supports multi-currency invoicing.

Integration — 5 Stars
The system can integrate with many third-party accounting and payroll applications,
including QuickBooks, Sage Accpac, and ADP, enabling the quick transfer of GL,
AR, AP and payroll data between the systems. Abak can also export data into
and import from most plain-text formats.

User Support & Help — 4.5 Stars
The built-in Help functions in Abak are based on the traditional Windows Help
system with indexed referencing, along with content-specific assistance and
right-click menus. Abak also provides an online support center that includes
FAQs and system updates. Support packages are available, and the company has
a variety of training options that include on-site, phone and online.

2006 Overall Rating: 5 Stars