New mobile apps free billable employees from the desktop while they still capture every minute and every expense.
If your organization bases its billing on careful time and expense tracking, you may be holding the ideal solution in the palm of your hand. A slew of powerful new apps for the iPhoneTM, BlackBerry and other mobile devices make it easy to record these details in real time.
Two basic approaches are available:
The iPhoneTM offers a wide array of device-based apps for tracking billable time and expenses. Typically, these programs allow you to track multiple projects and clients, assigning rates per project or per hour. From there, you can generate invoices and export the data into Excel, QuickBooks or other accounting programs. Some programs also provide report generation, mileage tracking, currency conversions and integration with other iPhone apps such as the Address Book.
It's important to note that apps specific to your mobile phone come with a caveat: They maintain data directly on the device, which increases risk and requires regular backup. In addition, they are limited to a single user, which may be an ideal solution for independent professionals such as consultants, designers and others, but impractical for businesses with staff. Investigate these iPhoneTM apps: iTimesheet, Timewerks and TDF Tracker.
Better solutions for multiperson tracking, these "cloud computing" programs use software and data that are hosted online, not on your company's servers, PCs or mobile devices. This is generally more secure than maintaining data directly on a handheld tool (though you should check each provider's data security policy). Many of these programs boast constantly available mobile interfaces that sync with or access data from the service when your phone is within signal range.
Freshbooks.com has apps for iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile devices. Exgis.com provides a number of products for BlackBerrys, while Harvest works with iPhone. Billquick is accessible using Windows CE, Palm OS and any Web-enabled mobile phone.
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