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Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

This is a topic every year or two, but it seems worth asking again because there's some moving targets on the cloud side of things.

I have never had more than one or two clients in a year and haven't really thought about invoicing or accounting too much as a result. I'm ramping that up slightly, but not too much. I'm concerned, though, that if I don't set up a usable system now I might accidentally end up in a situation where it's hard to do it later because I've entrenched myself into something that isn't scalable.

I am not good at being administratively organized, so I have two goals:
1) Quick set up of clients or projects and invoicing
2) Structure

If it stays fast and easy, then I'm more likely to get it done, but I don't want to create a headache down the line by just shifting the pain.

Quickbooks seems like the typical answer. Is that the right thing?

We're talking a sole practitioner doing half their time for a large consulting firm and half of their time elsewhere. Tracking invoices and payments is a big deal, dealing with business expenses and the odd subcontractor as well. Time tracking would be nice but I can do it outside if necessary. I'm more of the twenty hour type of project person, rather than the eight hundred one hour projects in a year type of person.

I am wary of cloud stuff, because a service shutting down would be a giant pain. That being said, I won't have anything complicated enough that it's really a big deal, so maybe I'm overthinking.

I don't love that quickbooks is subscription only for the same reason, but it's been around long enough that there's obviously going to be some path forward from someone if they ever decided to depreciate it.

What are other people doing.

Oh, also I'm in Canada which biases me towards the couple of solutions that build in Canada specific stuff.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

I've been using Harpoon. It works okay. Has the key pieces, and gets the job done. For your size operation, probably okay. It's a little clunky for me. Resource management has to be done externally and linking them together, along with accounting (though it has sufficient reporting for a sole proprietorship). I'm a one person operation with contract drafters. I have between 80 and 150 projects per year depending on size. I have my 10 or so 'regular' clients that don't go more than a month without having something on my active list, about 15 or 20 'infrequent clients' that give me 2 or 3 each year, and I round off the rest with one-offs when I have openings for them.

I'm in the process of transitioning to BQE Core. It's expensive, but I was able to negotiate a discount given the size of my firm. It's feature rich (more than I need), and developed for the A/E industry originally. It has time tracking, resource management, project management, full accounting functionality, CRM, invoicing, and payment processing all in one place. In terms of scalability, it's hard to beat. I think Factor is their primary competitor as far as budget options go.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

Sole practitioner. Canada. ~50% consulting directly with another firm. The other ~50% consulting with one-off or semi-regular clients:

Quickbooks works for me. I use it to generate invoices, track cash flow, and keep track of my mileage. Some of the reporting features I use for taxes and such. It's probably way more powerful than I need, but it can also be dead simple if that's how you use it. I also *think* there is some feature which would allow me to give access to a book keeper or accountant if I ever get to that stage.

Subscription fee is what it is. I'd rather pay $20 a month and have a dead simple, semi-pro way of doing things than trying to save that cash and building my own system. They moved me to the Cloud unit this year because the desktop version stopped being updated or something. I haven't noticed a difference other than I hate having to enter passwords and I couldn't access anything at home today because the power company was doing maintenance on the lines. Oh well, no work day.

I don't time track regularly and I really should. When I do, I use Toggl and somehow make the two systems jive manually.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

Sounds like quickbooks and excel would work fine for you.

BQE and Factor would be overkill. We only recently started to use Factor after hiring a few folks and tracking time and expenses in Excel was obviously going to be a waste of our time. We first tried to use Harvest for some light project management but it’s only really good for tracking time and expenses. The limitations on tracking subs was frustrating so we had to switch to Factor. I didn’t enjoy how the BQE rep treated us, and they were more money, so we figured we give Factor a shot. So far so good.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

I was using QB desktop but switched to QB online once I hired a bookkeeper. The monthly fee is un pleasant, however, I am invoicing 6-700 jobs per year so it gets spread out. The online version is far superior to the desktop version IMHO.
If I was only billing a few per year, I would probably find another way.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

I also use QuickBooks Online and have for years. I am generally happy with it. Intuit has made the product better and better over the years during which I have been using it. My only reservation is that the price continually goes up. In generally, though, I guess I would say that the price is mostly commensurate with the quality and usefulness of the product, which I think is pretty good.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

Take a gander at Wave. It's a Montreal startup that was bought by RBC a few years ago. Core book-keeping functionality is free, they make money on optional add-ons like payroll processing and credit card transactions. I have used it for three years without paying a cent. My accountant doesn't balk at it.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

Okay, thanks everyone. I'm going to take a look at Harpoon and Wave, as well as Quickbooks. I'll report back if I find anything interesting just so the next guy with the same question has something to read!

BQE does look interesting, but yeah it's definitely overkill.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

We use Quickbooks for invoicing, accounting, paying employees and 1099 and taxes, BQE Core for project management (keeping track of financials, client, marketing campaigns, etc.) as Quickbooks doesn't have most of this, and Wrike for resource management and scheduling. I have only ever seen one software that does all this together which was was Ajera, however it's extremely expensive with a large up front cost to setup and then monthly costs.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

I am a one-man operation myself and used to use Quickbooks until it went to subscription then I changed to Quicken but now that has gone to subscription so I am looking for another option. Right now I am planning to give Bookkeeper a try.

I mainly need to make invoices and track expenses for tax time. I don't like a monthly fee of QuickBooks or other options and I am leery of free online options. I feel like they could become a bait and switch.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

I am a one man show with two part time 1099 contractors. I deal with about 20 one-time clients a year and around 5-8 repeat clients. I use Quickbooks online for bookkeeping software and link all my business accounts (automatically records transactions). I also use it to create all my invoices, payment processor (accept cc and ach), and pay my contractors by direct deposit. I use the app for mileage tracking and taking picture of receipts so I can immediately toss them. It has allowed me to delay hiring a bookkeeper much longer than if I was using a free accounting solution, and I give my CPA access to it for tax time. I recommend Quickbooks if you think about growing. Well worth the cost for me.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

Find an online bookkeeper who will license Quick Books Online to you. Hook up your business checking account. QB is easy to send an invoice with minimal data entry. Let bookkeeper report your monthly financials. Bookkeeper plus license should be less than $150/mo.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

JMASE, where have you found a bookkeeper for $150/mo?

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

I'm a big Wave fan. Wish they did instant payouts though. That's my only knock.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

My only gripe with Wave is that when we started off using them the double entries for items made it difficult for our accountant to use so he said if we kept using Wave find another accountant. If I recall correctly, the double entries was based on how the payments were received when paid online, in the end they did balance out, but I guess were annoying to verify. We switched to Quickbooks and no issues since.

We were also paying Wave to file our quarterly taxes which you typically pre-pay 3 months in advance, so we paid for Jan - March up front and we cancelled our service with them before the next period (toward the end of period 1) to keep from having to pay for another 3 months that we wouldn't be using them and they decided not to file, nor pay our taxes, but did take the money out for taxes and kept it sitting in their account. By the time we noticed we were hit with penalties and contacted them and at first their response was since we cancelled before they filed (within 15 days after said period) then they didn't file, but then they realized that we did pay for them to file that period because you pay ahead and that they had taken the money out of our account already for these taxes; so they went ahead filed the taxes, however they refused to reimburse us for the penalties. Hopefully they have addressed their processes since.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

"JMASE, where have you found a bookkeeper for $150/mo?"

That is about what mine charges also including the quickbooks license. I do all the invoicing and receivables so she does not have much to do.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

Sole Proprietor (not in Canada) here as well. I use Freshbooks (based in Canada). It's more basic than Quickbooks, but has all I care about at the moment. I like that it has Projects that I can track time and invoices. Most things are smooth and easy enough to work with. There are 3 levels of advancement of features. I use the Standard basic one, and it's good enough. There are some nice Profitability features in the next level up, but the cost jump is not worth it for me.

Freshbook has payment options including instant and Credit Cards. Money usually arrives in my bank in less than 3 days, so I haven't used the instant payout option (which has a fee).

I use ManicTime for my time tracking since I am lazy... The nice thing is ManicTime can be imported into Freshbooks pretty easily.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

Yeah, I'm running Quickbooks and Freshbooks in parallel right now to compare. Quickbooks is cleaner on some of the stuff, but the lack of projects at the payment level I otherwise need is starting to look like a deal breaker.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

One other thing I do like about Freshbooks is they are very responsive to feedback, and a few of my suggestions were implemented within a couple of months.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

Anyone know a good multi-user desktop solution other than Quickbooks desktop? I need 2-3 licenses for Quickbooks and it's insanely expensive (about $1200 per year) and doesn't even work half the time with multi-user access. (I'm not looking for online or cloud based stuff; long story.)

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions

Seeing these replies makes me feel less embarrassed about continuing to use my desktop version of Quickbooks pro 2014, which might have cost me $300 back in the day. When I get a new computer, I use the original CD to install it and it does what I need.

RE: Invoicing and Accounting Solutions


Don't feel bad, I'm still using my CD of Office 2007 on my personal PC.

Please note that is a "v" (as in Violin) not a "y".

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