To say that freelance work is on the rise would be an understatement. The sector, fueled by the power of social networks and various digital platforms (oDesk, eLance, Guru) is booming, with percentages soaring high.
34% of the the workforce in USA has chosen to slide in the workcloth of a freelancer. In Europe there was a 45% increase in the number of freelancers – and that was back in 2013, when self-employment trends hadn’t revealed their true potential yet.
This is a huge industry with proven needs during the everyday flexible work. One of these is having a tool that can track time and billable hours, while optionally being open to invoice creation and export. People dub these tools in various ways – desktop timer, timesheet software, or perhaps the most popular – online timesheet.
Bearing in mind the already enormous audience (with tendency to rise even further), dozens of companies or individuals offer their own version of online timesheets or timers. Freelancers are free to pick whichever suits their work process best. Let’s dive right in and see four more popular choices of timesheet software. You can then tell me which one do you prefer.
FreshBooks is both a pioneer and the most used online timesheet software. But did you know that it was started out of a freelancer’s mischief?
Michael McDerment, Freshbook’s creator, seems to have been a freelancer himself. One day he made a painful mistake: he overwrote an invoice record, thus losing the previous vital information (and related payment). Naturally, it was a frustrating experience – both me and you would feel bad too. McDerment took it forward, though, and thought of a way to better manage his accounting. So in 2003 he started what would become FreshBooks.
The software offers various services ranging from time tracking to online invoicing and even generation of accounting reports and tax monitoring. It’s widely popular amongst freelancers with a reason: it’s available on all types of devices, can be accessed anywhere and prides itself with slick invoice creation and outstanding design.
On top of that, FreshBooks includes automatic backups and upgrades, team timesheets for collaboration projects and the feature to send freelance project estimates to your clients.
The online timesheet, however, is most famous for its huge integration with other services. FreshBooks add-ons range across numerous software, including website builders like Shopify or Magento, CRM solutions like AgileCRM and Oprius, newsletter software such as Mailchimp…the list goes on and on.
It’s like a swiss army knife, only masqued as timesheet software.
Staying close to FreshBooks is Harvest, yet another revered choice amongst the modern day freelance workforce. Harvest was founded a bit later than the FreshBooks early bird – in 2006, but it doesn’t lack interesting facts in its history.
Did you know that Harvest is one of the first SaaS (Software as a Service) applications that were built on the now famous Ruby on Rails framework? Furthermore, the guys at Harvest were amongst the pioneers in terms of seeking and actually implementing Twitter integration. That’s right: freelancers using Harvest could track their time with tweets!
This timesheet offers its freelance users a portfolio of services ranging from invoicing to expense tracking, time-based reporting, and of course – time tracking, as it includes a powerful timer.
The keyword to Harvest is simplicity. As an online timesheet, it’s marvelously simple to set up and once again it can be accessed everywhere. Among the usual features, Harvest has some very neat additions: extensively visual reports, the option to track expense projections with a special budget feature…
For team collaboration there is the option of automatically reminding employees to submit their timesheets as per schedule. As for clients – freelancers are free to send automated payment reminders in case a client hasn’t paid an invoice on time.
Aside from the two certified timesheet giants I listed, we also have Replicon. Replicon is once again a good choice as an online timesheet system, but it ascends further than being a fit for solo freelancers. Taking pride in its scalability, the software actually targets the enterprise level too, with features tailored to what a rather big organization might need.
What’s distinctive about Replicon is that it’s a cloud-based timesheet…and the fact that it is segmented into different products. In other words, as a freelancer, you will find a whole catalogue of different timers and timesheets to pick from. Replicon TimeCost for example is focused on project time and cost estimates. TimeBill, though, is a closer look towards timetracking and serves as a simplified yet functional timer.
The bottom line is that while Replicon lacks the power of Freshbooks for example, it’s extremely segmented, scalable and targeted towards specific sets of needs.
Compared to the other three timesheet pieces of software, ProWorkflow might seem like a limited pick. However, it’s still a proper way of tracking your time as a freelancer, so you might consider it.
A big advantage to ProWorkflow is that once again it’s simplified, but it’s also very budget-friendly. The online timesheet plans are rather inexpensive and even the Solo plan can be sufficient as it supports up to 10 active projects.
ProWorkflow gets Third party integration right as it’s functionality can be extended with a number of apps, some of which are free. It also crams invoicing, task management, messaging, reporting and even project templates into one whole backed up by tight 128bit encrypted security.
A short closing question for you, the freelancer
Well, that was quite the roundup, wasn’t it? Truth is, there are heaps of other viable online timesheets for any freelance worker to pick from. Maybe you use a timer or a piece of timesheet software I haven’t mentioned here. Maybe you dislike some (or even all!) of the listed systems.
Then, what is your online timesheet/desktop timer of choice? Why do you prefer exactly that one and not another?
I’m all ears, so please share your sentiments in the comments below.