For the freelancer or small business owner, client management, job management, time tracking, and invoicing all tend to be more complicated than is often necessary. But iBiz greatly simplifies all these processes by providing a clean and intuitive interface that is not overwhelming or hard to understand.
Keeping track of the time spent on a project, invoicing, invoice tracking, managing clients and job history are all items iBiz handles with ease.
Solving a Problem
A few years ago I found myself needing to track and manage clients, jobs, invoices; in general I needed small business management software. So I got the software you’re supposed to get for that sort of thing: Quickbooks. The problem was that Quickbooks was so far above my needs or my level of understanding I eventually gave up in disgust.
I switched to tracking my time with spreadsheets and creating my invoices with Excel (and later Apple’s Numbers) and saving them in an invoice folder. Then of course I would hope to remember which clients owed me money. But when my wife switched our home finances from Quicken to iBank by IGG software earlier this year, she also suggested I look into IGG’s iBiz. I downloaded the trial and was immediately impressed at its ease of use compared to what I learned to expect with Quickbooks. After a few days with the software I easily made the decision to purchase.
When you first open iBiz 4, you are presented with an easy and intuitive setup wizard. There are just 4 steps to go through.
- Company information and logo (if you have one)
- Initial Clients
- Default Rates
- Document Monitor
You are then presented with the iBiz interface.
I’ve traditionally been a bit flummoxed by any type of financial or bookkeeping application, but as you can see iBiz looks pretty intuitive. There aren’t a gargantuan amount of buttons or an undue amount of functionality hidden away in menus. I’ve found it very easy to work with. Getting started is as easy as selecting (or adding) a client and adding a new project.
In the estimates tab below the project browser you can add job events, anticipated costs, mileage or anything else you can think to throw in there. This makes it easy to set up a job and submit a bid. Unfortunately this is where I ran into my first small hiccup. While there are a few starter invoice templates, there were no job bid templates. I was able to duplicate and modify the simple invoice template to make a bid/estimate template, but it wasn’t ideal.
The invoice template editor uses the same controls as Apple’s Text Edit which has the advantage of being somewhat familiar, but the disadvantage of being somewhat limiting. I was able however to create estimate and invoice templates for my use that I’ve been happy with. The nice thing about estimates is that even though you create one with the same command you use to initiate an invoice, and it appears in the client billing area, iBiz still treats it as an estimate.
Adding an actual job event is just as easy as adding estimate events. After switching to the “Work” tab, clicking the plus button brings up the same job editor as the estimate tab. Optionally, you can also copy and paste jobs from the estimate tab.
An optional way of adding timed events to iBiz is to use the job timer, but I rarely find this a good fit for my workflow. I can see how it could be quite useful, I simply have not found a completely practical use for it.
Creating an invoice is fairly straightforward. There are jobs that I do that require me to invoice as I go, and there are jobs that require me to invoice after the entire project is complete. iBiz does either type. The only caveat is that when you create an invoice for a project, it will create an invoice for all un-invoiced work. It’s a little annoying if you need to invoice for, say the first five job events, but you’ve also entered job events 6 and beyond.
The best way around this is to create the invoice before you add job events beyond the one you wish to invoice up to. But the other work around is to toggle the checkbox next to the job event(s) you do not wish to invoice yet. This checkbox is the “invoiced” status checkbox. It tells iBiz this item has already been invoiced. Just be sure to uncheck those events after your invoice is created.
I did tweak my invoice templates just a bit. I started with the “Simple Invoice” template, but even that had too much clutter for my taste.
I duplicated that template and removed everything I considered to be extraneous for my needs.
Once an invoice is created, the client list will show the balance for the client, and you can easily see open invoices for a client in the “Billing” tab (overdue invoices will show the balance in red lettering, as well as the number of overdue invoices in the client sidebar).
Once payment has been received, you can right click on an invoice and choose to add a payment for the selected invoice. Nothing could be more simple.
iBiz also has several other features that many will no doubt find useful. I can see how iBiz can be used for even more things than I use it for. Some additional features are:
- iCal Sync
- Address Book Integration
- To Dos on a per project basis
- Document Monitor
- Client Groups
At the price point of $39.99 this was a no brainer for me. In fact I’m calling this software a real steal at that price. The ease of managing clients, projects and invoices have greatly simplified my life in dealing with clients and keeping track of who owes me money, which lets me do more of the work I love to do.
I give this app an 8 of 10. I did have to dock some points for the templates. I feel like IGG Software has a bit of work to do in that area. Estimate/invoice templates just aren’t as intuitive as they should be, and the “Text Edit” style template editor leaves something to be desired. But if you are intimidated by Quickbooks, either because of the price point, or because of the ease of use factor, I’d say iBiz is the app for you.