Accounting in the Clouds

Posted on 7 April 2013 • BlogTechnology

So the biggest part of each day is dealing with clients, but the biggest hassle of each month is dealing with the admin side of my work and turning my work into invoices. I need a better system to:

  • Manage my time — tracking time on my calendar and sorting into projects so I can get paid
  • Estimates and Quotes — pitching for work
  • Invoicing and Expenses — asking to be paid and reimbursed
  • Reconciling Banking — checking my bank accounts for what’s been paid
  • Overdue — figuring out what’s still due and chasing payment
  • Accounts — tracking my end of year and tax accounts
  • PAYE — paying the staff

So, I have quite a wide range of needs and am looking for something that covers all the bases. I’d prefer to have a single app, but am willing to look at multi-app solutions, so long as it’s not too complex.

Now, in addition to my needs, I also have a few clients. Some have accounts going back 20 years, and all the bookkeepers, being terribly anal types, want ALL OF THE DATA in the new system. Yes, not just summaries, but every bit of old data. They need to reference it and if we don’t get all the data over then that means keeping the old system alive indefinitely. Thus I need import from:

  • QuickBooks
  • MYOB
  • Sage

I realise it’s early days up the clouds, but I’m only after making the move if it really does integrate and simplify my working life. Oh yes, and one other thing: It needs to integrate with Google Apps: syncing – not import/export – with my Gmail and Google Contacts plus most importantly my tasks need to be in Google Calendar. This way I can share my calendar with my colleagues so everyone sees what I’ve been up to.

Soooo, here goes a few test runs…

2013-04-07-cloud-accounts-freeagentFreeAgent — freeagent.com

  • Tagline — Online accounting software for small businesses and freelancers.
  • Features — Contacts + Estimates + Time Tracking (hours worked total, but no time/calendar) + Invoicing + Expenses + Banking + Accounting + Taxes
  • Integration — Mac Time widget, Google Apps
  • Time Logging — time only, no start/end time
  • Demo — 30 day free trial
  • Import — no import.
  • Cost — £15/m (sole trader) or
  • Notes — looks nicely laid out but no time tracking so no go.

Great accounting stuff, but time tacking is hideous. Can’t edit dates. Plus no import or export. Was the front-runner but now not so sure. Time tracking is key.

2013-04-07-cloud-accounts-freshbooksFreshbooks — freshbooks.com

  • Tagline — Less time tracking, more time earning.
  • Features — Invoicing, Time Tracking, Estimates, Expenses, Clients & Staff, Contractors
  • Integration — Xero, Google Apps
  • iPhone  — MiniBooks Lite (free) / MiniBooks for Freshbooks (£8.99)
  • Time Logging — no start/end time, no calendar
  • Demo — free 3-client version
  • Import — no import.
  • Cost — $0/m (3 clients) or $19/m (25 clients) or $29/m (100 clients)
  • Notes — looks good, very zippy, but missing suppliers, no start/end time logging

No start/stop time for tasks which are stored as decimal not time values. Can do % discounts but not % production fee. I wish the frame was wider. Something about this I just don’t like. Reports allow you to see company accounts, etc but not very intuitive. No banking and reconciliation.

2013-04-07-cloud-accounts-yanomoYanomo — yanomo.com

  • Tagline — Time tracking was never this rewarding.
  • Features — Projects & Sub-Projects, Tasks, Clients, Invoices, Expenses
  • Integration — Google Apps
  • iPhone  — £2.99 iPhone app by 3rd party developer
  • Time Logging — start/stop time logging to calendar
  • Demo — free 45 day demo
  • Import — 
  • Cost — $0/m (3 clients) or $19/m (25 clients) or $29/m (100 clients)
  • Notes – No accounts. No % invoice discounts or production fees.

There’s something about this one I just like. Feels like they’ve really cracked how to turn time-base tasks into a billable invoice. Especially like that you can edit a draft invoice at any time and update it with new tasks. Great for keeping an eye on things as you go. The one real problem though is the Google Calendar integration which doesn’t work. Ideally I’d like to just see my Yanomo Calendar events in Google Calendar via an iCal feed, not all my Google Calendars in Yanomo. More simple that what they’ve tried to do with greater flexilibity as then anyone can share their iCal feed with anyone who needs to see it. So support for company account and such. Just projects, tasks and invoicing. Can do invoice discount but only by adding line item with negative value. Bit primitive on reporting side with no real analysis of income and such.

Accounting in the Clouds

So even with all this work, and looking at a whole host of others, I’m still not ready to take the plunge.

Round and round he goes always the same way you see. Until he winds up, close against the nail
– The Wicker Man

See previous post Accounting in the Clouds from back in 2010. Didn’t find a solution then and not much better now.