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HarvestApp: How I Cut My Invoicing from Hours to Minutes

Accounting work is invoiced hourly.  Sure there is the occasional fixed fee project but more often than not I’ll invoice clients hourly.  This means I need to track my time.  Every minute of every day is accounted for in some way, shape, or form.  It’s not all chargeable but it’s all in my timesheet.  Previously I had used QuickBooks timesheets to track my time and then move it into an invoice to send to a client.  As I had mentioned in a past post I ditched the QuickBooks for LessAccounting and was thus presented with a problem: how do I track my time and subsequently send invoices and track my receivables?

I tried a few different web applications for time tracking but each had a quirk that lead me to hate the program.  I finally stumbled upon Harvest (www.harvestapp.com).  I was vaguely familiar with the software as a client of mine used it to track time for their employees.  Using their 30 day trial I gave it a shot and immediately loved what it offered.

Previously, I knew only the billable time that I spent on a client.  I didn’t have the ability to easily breakdown the non-billable time nor could I easily run reports to show realization (how many billable hours vs. total hours) or how my day broke down.  In Harvest it’s all right in front of you and easily accessible.  Over the last two months I’ve been able to see the clients that are profitable and those that have low realization rates.

Also, I was able to bring freshnesses to my invoicing.  In the past it was a pdf from QuickBooks attached to an email that I prepared.  It took some time, I’d have to review the time, ensure I used the proper rate for the project, determine the appropriate template, print to pdf, prepare an email then send.  If it sounds like a hassle, it was.  With Harvest I can review my ‘uninvoiced report’ select the client to bill, click 2 buttons and the invoice is sent.  It’s convenient and easy.  Recording payments is a 2 step process: 1) select receive payment; 2) enter amount received and check number then you’re done.

Last, Harvest has little features that are pretty convenient like one click reminder emails to late payers and thank you emails when payment is received.  The reports allow you to see how much uninvoiced time you have, realization, receivables outstanding, and money collected for any selected time period.  It’s an accountant’s dream!

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Making Moves: LessAccounting

Accountants are fickle, trust me, I know.  For the past 10 years I have used QuickBooks to manage my accounting, client’s accounting, everyone’s accounting!  I liked the ease of use from an accountants view point and I like how people pay me to spend time updating their QuickBooks.  It was a good arrangement.  My QuickBooks was always kept up to date and it was a pretty reliable tool.  Then this last tax season hit and I was swamped.  As I worked to service clients the QuickBooks got pushed to the back burner and updates became scarce.  When I finally resurfaced my QuickBooks was 4 months out of date and I had no clue how my business was doing.  As an accountant that’s embarrassing to admit, but I buckled down and managed to reconcile my accounts and get back up to date.  Then I started thinking: there has to be a better way.  Luckily, there was a better way.

I had a couple clients on a variety of platforms other than QuickBooks so I started to play around with them.  The number one things for me was automatic update.  If it didn’t link to my bank account I didn’t touch it.  I checked out QuickBooks Online (sucks), Xero (no link to Chase), and InDinero (meh).  Then I came around to LessAccounting.  Smooth simple and available via iPhone app.  How could I go wrong?  The best part about it is the integration into Chase and the automatic updates.  Granted I still have to link transactions but that’s minor compared to creating entirely new transactions.  While QuickBooks remembers prior transactions, you still need to ensure the numbers you enter are correct.  And entering the numbers correctly is mildly important when you’re doing your accounting.  LessAccounting on the other hand brings in the numbers automatically from your account and all you have to do is tag and explain and you’re set.  Not bad.  Also, their quick charts allow me to see a trend analysis of my cash flow so I can take a cash at where I stand on a daily basis.

On the downside I’d like to see a balance sheet.  Without a balance sheet as anything but a service company you really can’t use LessAccounting.  It also presents a problem for owners of LLC’s as they have to ensure they properly record the payments to themselves and not this to the accountant so it can be addressed properly on their tax return at the end of the year.  I ran into that issue with a client and we created a separate account titled “Owners Distributions” that is backed out of the income statement prior to tax preparation.  Also, you’re not going to be able to track inventory or fixed assets in this system as everything is immediately expensed.  Last, I’d like to see better invoicing.  I still haven’t embraced the invoicing in LessAccounting (I use Harvest App).  The main reason is I can’t get comfortable with LessTimeSpent, the time-tracking app you have to use.

While I have my gripes, one month in I’m still a huge fan of LessAccounting.  Manufacturing companies with fixed assets and companies with inventory should avoid the program but service based businesses should learn to love this web app, it really will lead to less accounting!

 

Remember your Accountant

So many small businesses overlook the benefits of consultation with an accountant throughout the year.  Regular discussions between you and your accountant will allow you to properly plan for year and and avoid any unforeseen problems in your tax preparation.

 

Additionally, your accountant will be able to give you a different perspective on the accounting at the business.  He will be able to analyze a situation unemotionally and help you determine whether it is best for your business.

 

When you consult after the fact, changes become much more difficult and you may be stuck with a decision that is wrong for your business.  Call your accountant today and see how they can help you, it’ll help avoid a long-term headache!

 

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