I’ve been meaning to review Billings since the application was upgraded a while back, but I never got around to it. The positive that can come from that is that I’ve been able to play with it quite extensively in a real invoicing setting. On the whole it has made my life a lot easier, but there are a couple small suggestions that I would like to see implemented as well.
For those of you who have no idea what the application does, it allows you to maintain your invoicing and projects all in one well laid out place. The timers have been heralded for quite some time, and they essentially allow you to work on your projects while it keeps track of the work that’s going on.
The Projects Overview
There are two major overview modes in Billings. The first is the Projects overview mode. This gives you a listing of all your clients in the pane on the left, a listing of all the projects (both estimate and active), as well a list of all the tasks (slips) you’ve been working on for each particular client.
You have the ability to start timers on one or more tasks, as well as get a quick visual representation of any overdue amounts owed by a client, as well as unbilled, incomplete, and balance amounts.
The second major “mode” is the Account view that provides a more in-depth look at your actual invoices that you’ve sent to clients.
The three column layout makes it very easy to navigate and get to clients that you need to keep an eye on. Much like the project overview, we have a listing of clients immediately on our left. It should be pointed out that clients with a red icon have overdue accounts. This is a prime example of the excellent work Billings has done in ensuring that we can quickly get an idea about where our money is, and who’s holding us up.
The second major section in the Account overview mode is a listing or payments, invoices and estimates that have all been made. It also gives us the ability to add payments and retainers, as well as resend invoices and statements.
The Billings team has made it very easy to keep track of the time we spend on projects, and to ensure that we as small business owners are getting paid for the work we’re actually doing. The timer very elegantly lets you know what projects are being worked on, as well as the amount in dollars that each individual task is taking you. A timer also sits in your menu bar, and turns red while you’re working on a project, and black when you’ve stopped the timer.
These tools make staying on budget very easy to do. You can immediately see, in real time, what areas of a project are running close to going over, something every client can appreciate. Billings also has a built in time check that immediately stops the timer when it has realized that your computer has been sitting idle. You get to set the duration of the time it will keep running on idle before it stops in the system preferences.
Another major time saver, and a key factor in determining if I would continue to use Billings for my invoicing was the built in “Blueprints” mode. This mode lets you set up a skeleton for your projects that come up frequently so that you don’t have to constantly type up information for your estimates and invoices. If you find yourself doing the same tasks over and over, and having to write it out for billing/estimate purposes, then this application if for you. It will set up the hourly rates, taxes, discounts, and markup for each task you wish to assign to a blueprint.” You then have the ability to select each blueprint from a drop down menu in the estimate slips section as you build your estimate for a client. The only thing left to do is add in the hours expected to complete that segment of the project and Billings will fill in all the calculations for you. It’s a major time saver.
One Additional Thing
Overall, I recommend this application strongly. I’ve yet to see anything designed this intuitively, that making the switch to Billings full-time was a bit of a no brainer for me. But, there is one feature that it seems to be lacking, and if it exists I apologize, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it anywhere. Receipts are not included in this software package, and it’s something that’s a bit difficult to overlook in my opinion. I’m constantly being asked for receipts by clients immediately after they pay me for my services, and they usually want a document showing that they have paid in full. Billings already stamps invoices as paid in full once the appropriate amount of money has been added to each account, but it does not let me print it out. I think it would be simple enough to add, and it would bring me from a 4.5/5.0 rating to an easy 5/5… not that I rate software, or even care to do so.