Keeping Track of Your Business with TimeNet

Today, I’ll be taking a look at TimeNet, a long-standing player in the field of time tracking and project management. The application allows you to take control of your clients and projects, easily send invoices, and stay on top of who owes you what.

It offers a fairly simple window-based interface, to show you only the information you need at any given time. This makes it pleasant to navigate, and slightly different from more complex competitors.

Basic Interface

As mentioned previously, TimeNet works on the basis of multiple windows. The primary interface you’ll deal with most of the time, however, looks as follows:

TimeNet Interface

TimeNet Interface

This shows an overview of all the clients and projects logged in the system, allows you to quickly add a new to-do item, or access the application preferences. I’d recommend taking a look through the preferences at a fairly early stage, as you’ll need to add your company information and certain details about your hourly rate charges before you can use TimeNet to the full.

Clients and Projects

Adding a client is a simple process, and I found a nice surprise to be the way in which the system integrates with Address Book. When you begin typing a new client’s name, a live search is performed within Address Book to try and automatically retrieve the information for that particular contact. Multiple currency support for different clients is also a nice touch – vital for freelancers working with different clients worldwide.

Adding a Client

Adding a Client

Projects are similarly easy to manage, with a simple one-window interface. The total amount owed for the project is shown in the top right, project details in the top left, then a list of the different chargeable items underneath. These can either be expenses, single-price items, or hourly charged items. Everything works as you’d expect, and inputting/editing charges is very straight-forward.

Managing a Project

Managing a Project

It’s also possible to generate reports for a particular project, showing a visual breakdown of different charges.

Tracking Time

Before tracking time, you need to enter the application’s preferences to input different types of hourly charges used. These can then be added to any project within TimeNet:

Adding Charges

Adding Charges

Tracking time is handled well, through the TimeNet interface and a indicator in the OS X menu bar. I would have welcomed a way to initiate a new timer session directly from the menu bar, but this didn’t seem to work for me during testing. You can, however, quickly add a new fixed charge, or ask the application to “buzz” you with a reminder about something after a set interval (this can also be used to notify network users).

Creating Invoices

The mainstay of any billing application is it’s ability to produce good looking invoices, and TimeNet doesn’t fall short in this category. Before creating an invoice, you’ll need to add your company information (and logo) into the preferences pane:

Creating an Identity

Creating an Identity

After doing so, just go to a project and select “Invoice” to start the process. In addition to generating a new document containing the invoice, you can also automatically save a copy to disk if you so wish. Various templates are available, some of which look slightly better than others!

The resulting document is created as a Rich Text file, and opened in TextEdit:

An Example Invoice

An Example Invoice

This system works well, though I’d welcome the ability to produce the invoice as a PDF instead of Rich Text. In addition, some form of email or web integration could work well, to automatically send the invoice through to a client.

The final functionality to note is the “Manager” window, which helps you stay on top of the invoices sent, and those which are now overdue. You can visually see which are paid or unpaid, sort in a variety of different ways, and archive those which you no longer need to deal with.

Criticisms

Although the interface is enjoyable to use on-the-whole, I did feel that the use of panels for to-dos and notes feels a little dated. Most applications have now moved on from this slightly clunky aspect of the OS X interface. In addition, the fonts and spacing in the design of the interface also appear slightly archaic and in need of a facelift.

Finally, it wasn’t immediately obvious that you are required to add an “Hourly Charge” item before time tracking becomes available. A slightly better explanation of this when opening the application for the first time would be appreciated.

Conclusion

TimeNet also has a few other features that we didn’t go into during this review; the ability to collaborate on one database across a network, and solid integration with Address Book, Spotlight, iCal and Time Machine. To really get a feel for how the application works, be sure to download a trial and give it a go. The full version costs $45 – a fairly competitive price for this type of software. Before purchasing, you may also like to take a look at Billings, which offers similar features for a comparable price. Both applications excel in different areas.

I certainly enjoyed trying out TimeNet, and feel that it does offer a genuinely good solution for freelancers needing to keep track of their clients and payments. We’ll be running a competition later today to win a copy of TimeNet, so stay tuned for more information coming shortly!


  • http://digital-etcetera.blogspot.com/ Jazzimus

    You also might want to compare / review this to iBiz http://www.iggsoftware.com/ibiz/index.php

  • C.44

    I still would love to see an app that doesn’t just track time and make invoices based on those and have reports to boot. I would love to see an app that manages clients AND suppliers, let’s you track projects, create invoices, store bills received from your suppliers and keep track of paid invoices and bills.

    All these apps are nice but they really all do just one or two things and that’s it. I’ve looked at quite a few apps reviewed here like OnTheJob, Billings (the only two i can remember of the top of my head) and they’re all the same with slight differences.

    Plus i have to work with 2 different taxrates (blame the netherlands) that vary from product to product. And we use a very clever way to number our invoices which makes it easier to link a specific invoice to a customer, but none of the programs actually support custom numberingconventions so far.

    Another thing i’d like to see is multi-user support over a network. I don’t care if it’s webbased (self hosted) or an app on our macs honestly.

    To get back on-topic, the app doesn’t look bad, but obviously isn’t really what i would be looking for. From a webdesigners point of view however, i might be just enough. But keeping track of your invoices and clients is not even half the work when keeping track of your business.

  • Pingback: Win a Copy of TimeNet – Mac.AppStorm

  • M. Sheene

    I did notice you pointing out the inability to start/stop the timer from the menubar – actually, you can. You just have to have a project window open and a timed item highlighted. Then the menubar gives you details about that task and lets you start/stop the timer.

  • http://www.twitter.com/leoperkins Leo Perkins

    I know what you mean C44. This only thing that seems to come close to it is the market circle products. http://marketcircle.com/ it has two separate products built to integrate or work individually. One for Billing/time tracking and the other for CRM/Project Management (with iPhone app).

    The only problem I can see is it requires you to have your own server. Which can a bit too much for one person.

  • http://URL(Optional) C.44

    For a little while i tried Billings with Daylite. But i haven’t found anything that somehow let me keep track of my suppliers. In my line of business i’m supposed to be outside working rather than being stuck behind a computer. So tracking time really isn’t quite possible with Billings built-in timers.

    However, Daylite is a step in the good direction and the server end is the very least of my problems actually. I just need it to be possible because one computer is just always on here.

    Billings aswell actually lacks in the invoice numberingconvention part and quite a few other bits that i can’t really remember of the top of my head right now. Plus the one thing i hate is that those iphone apps are so damn expensive. I mean, it should connect to my very own server so i really can’t see why it should be so expensive.

    Billings integration into Daylite (or viceversa) is however leaving much to be desired aswell. They don’t run off the same database after the integration, which is the biggest letdown. Sure i can push projects from daylite towards billings, but inside billings i have to actually pull the project in manually still. It’s like saying Photoshop is integrated with MS Paint. PS can save to bmp… and MSPaint can open bitmaps. It’s not logical to have to pull all those projects into Billings yourself. Same goes for contacts btw.

    Other than all i’ve said above, i still completely miss any sort of supplier management. All these programs i’ve seen passing by here on mac.AppStorm are merely the FUN part of the business, managing clients and sending invoices. But to keep it fun, you just might have to keep track of that bill from the AppleStore where you bought your new Mac last week for instance.

  • Perry

    Well in that case I’m curious as to the specifics that are needed for more complete business management. What should be added to TimeNet to take it to that next level?

  • http://URL(Optional) C.44

    Well like i said, it would have to have at least some form of supplier management. In my business i have to deal with about as much clients as suppliers. So i would have to be able to stuff every bill i receive into it as raw data (price, duedate, supplier ID, etc). Then i would need a quick overview of which bills are due today/this week so i can act upon those. Pretty much the same as with invoices sent out to clients.

    Another thing that i personally would require is being able to give a coworker access so they can add (for instance) bills to the database, while i compose an invoice for a client.

    As i said before, the netherlands have 3 taxrates, 0%, 6% and 19%. It would be very usefull if you could apply different taxrates to different rules on the invoice. Otherwise i’d have to go over every single invoice to adjust for that.

    I’ve looked into TimeNet very briefly as it’s about 2.42 am right now and i’m actually quite ready to drop my head on my desk so it could be i’ve missed some keyfunctionality although i’m quite certain i’ve clicked all the buttons ;)

    Thanks for actually reading these posts aswell ;)

  • http://URL(Optional) C.44

    Well like i said, it would have to have at least some form of supplier management. In my business i have to deal with about as much clients as suppliers. So i would have to be able to stuff every bill i receive into it as raw data (price, duedate, supplier ID, etc). Then i would need a quick overview of which bills are due today/this week so i can act upon those. Pretty much the same as with invoices sent out to clients.

    Another thing that i personally would require is being able to give a coworker access so they can add (for instance) bills to the database, while i compose an invoice for a client.

    As i said before, the netherlands have 3 taxrates, 0%, 6% and 19%. It would be very usefull if you could apply different taxrates to different rules on the invoice. Otherwise i’d have to go over every single invoice to adjust for that.

    I’ve looked into TimeNet very briefly as it’s about 2.42 am right now and i’m actually quite ready to drop my head on my desk so it could be i’ve missed some keyfunctionality although i’m quite certain i’ve clicked all the buttons ;)

    Thanks for actually reading these posts aswell ;)

  • Pseudoclass

    I second C44′s comments. I haven’t found a single mac billing app that also allows you to keep track of your expenses/suppliers invoices. This is so primordial to any business/freelancer that I cannot understand why no mac software package of this type doesn’t have it. Also custom invoice numbering is a must as in some countries you are required to follow a set format (such as my case here in Spain).

  • http://www.applesource.biz Perry

    Open forum for discussion based on these comments: http://www.applesource.biz/supportboard-new/index.php?topic=692.0

    Please participate and share as much information as you can. We look forward to filling the void in this area of business management software!

  • Tdako

    Hi,
    After reading through the review here, I went ahead and downloaded this app. But the only thing I’m seeing is that it is more for time based work or projects and not really for a company selling products. Or am I missing something here?

    If it indeed is only for time tracking, is there an app which is just as good, but then for both time-tracking and products?

    Cheers
    Tdako

  • http://www.applesource.biz Perry

    Tdako,

    TimeNet works for billable hours or flat priced products. You can fill in the Flat Fee list of charges for all the products that you sell, and then you can add those items to projects/invoices and see how many of which items are selling the most, etc.

  • Tdako

    Hi Perry,

    Oh ok. I’ll go give it a try again and see how to add products.

    Thanks again for your help.

    Cheers
    Tdako

  • http://www.applesource.biz Perry

    Surely! Good luck to everyone who entered the contest. License codes will be sent out as soon as AppStorm announces the winners. Have a great weekend!

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    This is really nice and thanks again for your help.

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