Are you an Excel/Office consultant or freelancer? If so, I’d like to know what tools you use. Specifically how you track your time, invoice your clients, and account for your business.
I track my time in Excel. Whenever I complete a task, I add a line to a spreadsheet with the client, project, hours, category, and description. I also I have an invoice number and invoice date column so I know if I’ve billed that time or not. I don’t have any major complaints with this method except with how it interacts with the billing and accounting. (Hint: It doesn’t.)
For billing, again I use Excel. I filter the above mentioned time tracker on client, project, and invoice number (to get the blanks), then produce an invoice in Excel manually. I print the invoice and the filtered time tracking list to a pdf and send it out. It would be nice if it was a little more automated.
For accounting I use Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting. I enter invoices, cash receipts, expenses and such. It sucks.
MOSBA is now defunct. Microsoft, I guess, was trying to make something to compete with Quickbooks and probably decided it had better things to do. MOSBA is what QB was about 10 years ago. That is, it’s only good for the most basic stuff. I don’t need more than the basics, but I’m sick and tired of these “accounting” packages that show me a picture of a check when I want to enter a check. Seriously, I’m not an idiot. I grok that the information is stored in a database, so just show me a form to enter the information. I can appreciate that some people like the pictures, and that’s fine for them. But I’d prefer something more sophisticated.
As it turns out, sophistication costs a lot of dough. There are a lot of decent accounting packages out there, but I don’t have $10,000 to spend on one. Now that MOSBA is done, I need to transition to something else. As long as I’m transitioning, I thought I’d look for an integrated solution. Rather than actually research it myself, I’m hoping you’ll do all the work for me.
I want to enter my time as I do the work. I’d like to generate invoices from those time entries. I need flexibility, though. Some clients want a big number that matches their PO. Others want it broken down in various ways. I’d like to be able to specify by client and project how the time entries are summarized on the invoice. I’d also like to have a detail sheet separate from the invoice so that AP can have the invoice, but my contact can see the details. Then I want that invoice to be entered in the accounting system. I don’t want web-based software. Sorry SAAS folks, I just don’t see the benefit. The cost is that I can’t bill if my internet is down.
Beyond the time and billing, I still need to enter expenses and credit card transactions. No, I don’t need to interface directly with my credit card company. I can enter them myself. I also don’t need to track my investments for goodness sake. I just want what I want and not much more.
Oh, and I want an ODBC compliant backend. I could keep my time and billing in Excel if I could push it into the accounting system. So that leaves Quickbooks, and its XML based interface, out.
So what do you use?