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Office Tools Pro — Office Tools Pro 2006

the Nov. 2006 Review of Time & Billing Systems

Tools Pro offers a time and billing suite that borders on practice management,
providing a fairly comprehensive collection of tools for time and expense management,
billing, calendaring/scheduling, contact management, due-date reporting, project
tracking and paperless document management. A complete one-user package that
can support unlimited staff and timekeepers (only one person logged in at a
time) starts at $500 for a single user, with additional users costing $75. Multi-user
packages are also available, as are trimmed down versions that start as low
as $200 for a sole proprietor package. One year of support and updates is included
in the pricing.

Ease of Use/Navigation Features — 4 Stars
Office Tools Pro uses a crisp interface that immediately opens to a tabbed screen
that is focused on contact management instead of to a centralized dashboard.
Because the system is centered around the contact management function, other
tasks, such as entering or accessing timesheets, invoices, documents or other
data, are generally accessed through the client that is involved. From this
screen, users have multiple methods of searching for a client, including pull-down
lists by company name or account number and query fields.

The tabbed interface generally provides intuitive navigation, providing a
centralized location for logging in client calls, entering notes and action/follow-up
items, entering timesheets, and accessing client billing functions. It is further
enhanced by a user-specific Activity List at the bottom of the screen that acts
as a To-Do calendar for the current user. This list can be filtered to include
action items, calls, schedule items, projects, statuses and the user’s
hot list. Client contact information is always present at the top of the screen
while working within any part of a client’s records. Many of the data-entry
fields and tabs for the interface can be customized to fit user preferences.

Office Tools Pro’s primary time entry function is calendar-based and
geared toward daily entry by the user, with the interface providing selection
lists for entering company and work codes, with options for entering expenses,
mileage, notes and other information. Time can be entered either as total hours
spent or as a start/stop log of the times worked on the client project. The
system provides a timesheet summary view, along with a more comprehensive detail
view. The program also makes it easy to access calendaring functions directly
from any client view or timesheet, enabling the user to quickly add or view
client appointments. The system’s Call Messaging and Tracking function
includes callback reminders that pop up on the user’s desktop, and provide
automated time entry for clocked calls with the ability to take notes and mark
items for follow-up.

John Scott, principal of Scott Tax Associates, Inc. (
in Garden Grove, California, has used Office Tools Pro for just a few years,
but definitely sees the financial benefit it has given his firm. “Although
I know it is a powerful program with many features, I use it primarily for contact
management and billing,” he said. “We have five workstations in
our office, and Office Tools Pro has made communications between workstations
something very simple. In the past, each day my desk would fill up with slips
of paper messages (telephone and others) that were walked into my office. This
program has eliminated this mess and made us efficient and communicative without
the cost of work interruptions.”

Management Functions — 3.5 Stars
Office Tools Pro can support any number of clients, projects and staff, with
the ability to assign multiple rates to staff and bill based on time or a flat
rate, including expenses and markups. The program offers good project management
capabilities, maintaining complete project histories in the system’s status
log. The program also offers records and document management. Records management
focuses on paper-based storage, providing a reliable utility for managing these
items. The document management system is focused on paperless electronic filing,
with support for *.PDF, word processing documents, Excel files, images, scanned
documents, e-mail, invoices and various other file types. The system’s
calendaring/scheduling feature allows management of appointments for multiple
staff members with daily, weekly and monthly views. The program offers only
sync-based support for remote timekeeping and contact management (sync the PDA
with the system prior to leaving the office, and sync it again upon return).
No web-based access is available.

Billing & Reporting — 4 Stars
Office Tools Pro includes more than 200 customizable reports and templates,
including AR, realization, aging, reconciliation, utilization, WIPs, YTD hours
and various other management reports. The system’s invoicing provides
multiple invoice types that can include notes and explanations and allow rates
and totals to be edited, marked up or written off as needed. Billing statements
are easily created and accessed from the Billing tab and include customizable

Integration — 4 Stars
Office Tools Pro can share data with Outlook for contact management, and its
document management system can manage virtually any type of file format. Additionally,
the system has data integration capabilities with 2004 and later versions of
QuickBooks, enabling direct transfer of invoices, receivables, company data
and other financial information. The program’s e-mail functionality does
not require Outlook and can manage individual and batch e-mail distribution.
The system can be used with Palm-based PDAs.

User Support & Help — 5 Stars
Office Tools Pro has excellent pop-over field descriptions that greatly increase
the friendliness of the system, and the program is generally very easy to navigate
and work in. The built-in Help utility is standard, and the company offers user
guides, tutorials, training, “helpful tips” and a knowledgebase
on its online support center. As noted earlier, pricing includes one year of
support and system updates. The company also has more formal training options

2006 Overall Rating: 4 Stars