Review of Timeslips Release 5. (time and billing software) (Software Review) (The CPA & the Computer) (Evaluation)by Jackson, Rick
I cherish the time of month when clients are paying their accounting fees and the cash flow is wonderful. On the other hand, I dread the time of month when I find on my desk the dreaded BILLING BOOK. In the twenty- plus years I have been in this profession, I have seen this opinion expressed in nearly every firm doing time and billing manually.
Timeslips Corporation has published time and billing software for several years. Their flagship program, Timeslips, has received a major upgrade. Many of you are like me--you grab the disks, stick them in, and type a:install. Timeslips has many options and requires you to use the manual.
I initially installed the program on my notebook computer, finding it very simple and straightforward. I could choose which parts of the program I wanted to install and which printers I had available. I especially appreciated it indicating what modifications were made to my Config.sys file.
Then I installed the program on our Novell network, and again it went smoothly. The program ran under DESQview, on both machines, with no problems. The company assured me you will have no problems running it under Microsoft Windows. When I began installation, I was asked if I agree to abide by the licensing agreement. Unless you answer yes, the installation aborts. I was bothered by the fact that every time I loaded the program it gave me a screen reminding me to register the program. However, if you turn off the opening screens, this also turns off the screen that verifies the date. This date controls the Timeslips and the accuracy of all your reports. Control of these two screens should be separate.
Timeslips consists of two parts. TS Timer, which keeps track of your time and can load memory resident (TSR). TSReport, the second part, also includes TS Timer its first menu choice called Make Slips. Throughout the program, the F10 key is an accept key and F9 a search key. Escape backs you up a level on the menu. I was frequently frustrated by the number of times I had to hit escape to get out of the Make Slips section. Each screen gives you information at the bottom as help for the activity you are doing.
From within Make Slips, you have options of either entering time or expense slips. You cannot combine both types. You can add clients and activities using the F4 key. This takes you to the same screens that would be entered through Define Names on the main menu. Through project, client, or the reference portion you can group slips for the same client, combining them into one bill.
The third main menu choice is Enter Client Information. It is important that you set up Your Company. In it you define your default billing information, which can be copied to a new client's profile. This is also the section where you enter transactions such as payments, credits, and adjustments. You can set up flat fees and retainers for a client. A good feature is the use of 15 custom fields for clients.
The reports section produces worksheets, invoices, and an option I like- -printing Rolodex cards, file folder labels, and envelopes. The base program will only generate invoices, which are easily formatted. If you need a statement in addition to your invoice, you can purchase an add on program called TAL (Timeslips Accounting Link). Before printing invoices, review the worksheets for problems, and edit them if needed. Once you have the bills printed and they are correct, it is necessary to finalize them. The manual suggests you also finalize the bills to a file on your hard drive. It is possible to unfinalize a billing, but there are some restrictions. Read this part of the manual carefully before finalizing the first time. Client specific and global messages can be printed on invoices.
The file functions menu choice is for setting up a new database or accessing a different database. It also controls mass editing, undoing your finalization, and purging slips. When you purge your slips and have made no additional entries, it is possible to do an unpurge. In fact, when it completes purging, you are asked if you want to unpurge before continuing. Settings has many choices. You can do your invoice layout, choose a printer, set up macros, do customization, etc. Three important areas deal with terminology, security, and abbreviations.
Upon exiting, the program asks if you want to back up your database. However, it doesn't back up Archive, Format, Scratch Pad, or TSRemote files. This option is somewhat limited.
I had ten questions for the technical support department. I called at 9:30 on a Friday morning that I expected to be a busy time. I was on hold for seven minutes and the technician did an excellent job.
The program comes with a 30 day free return policy. You receive 30 days of free telephone support (not an 800 number), beginning with your first call, not when you register the product. The company offers two support plans. The first is $60 per hour for single user and $100 per hour for network versions. The second is one year of support (including an 800 number) for $110 per year for single user and $250 and up for network versions.
At first, I did not feel the program was as intuitive as I like. However, after about 10 to 12 hours of reading the manual and experimenting with the program, I felt very comfortable with it. It has a great deal of flexibility. To learn all the customization and options will take several hours, but this is true of any good package.
Price: $299, single user; $599, network; $79, Accounting Link.
Requirements: DOS 3.0 or higher, 512K RAM, 2.5 MEGs hard disk space. There is also a Macintosh version available.
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