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REVIEW: Time and Billing Software 2011

Like sand through the hour glass...... so are the billable hours in an accountant's work day. Just like Susan Lucci during her twenty five years on daytime television, the timesheet has managed to keep a lead role in many accounting firms. In spite of the heroic efforts of Ron Baker and the team at Verasage to the contrary, hours are still inextricably linked to most firm's revenues. So for now, time and billing software remains an essential practice management tool.

The right time and billing solution makes it easy for everyone in the firm to enter their time and for firm administrators to generate client billings. (Although no solution has managed to make tracking time anything but a chore for staffers.) Once time is captured and invoices are produced, accounting firms look to their software vendors for other features like dashboards, scheduling and work flow management to help them improve firm results.

But they are increasingly looking to their time and billing software for better insights and want to know about profitability by client, work in process by staff member, and service area metrics. Like most of their client businesses, accounting firms also expect their internal software to ultimately help them deliver better client service.

We'll take a look at the following solutions:
• AccountantsWorld Practice Relief
• CaseWare Time
• ImagineTime
• Prosystem fx
• Thomson Reuters Practice CS


AccountantsWorld's Practice Relief
Hauppauge, N.Y.
(888) 999-1366
Price: $395 per year or $40 per month.


Practice Relief
AccountantsWorld's Practice Relief is a time-and-billing application delivered online. It includes a time-tracking wizard (stopwatch tool) as well as the ability to record total time spent and billable time for individual client tasks. A desktop tool allows users to track time in an offline mode for later synchronization with the online solution.

Practice Relief comes preconfigured with the tasks and expenses most commonly used in an accounting practice and can be customized to include other tasks and expenses. Invoices, which are automatically generated from tasks and expenses entered in the system, can be emailed directly to the client. Practice Relief supports billing in one of the following ways: hourly, variable rate structures, flat fee, non-billed, or retainer.

Practice Relief is one of eight tools offered in the AccountantsWorld Power Practice Suite.


CaseWare Time
Berkeley, Calif,
(800) 267-1317
Price: Single timekeeper license, $500; Up to five timekeepers $1,000. Renewal, 50 percent of license value.


CaseWare Time
CaseWare time lets users enter, approve and review time from their desktop, browser, or mobile device.

A single screen gives administrators access to billing, write-ups and write-downs while CaseWare's CaseView tool gives users control over the layout and content of invoices. The product also offers automatic invoicing, cash receipt management, and reconciliations.

CaseWare Time includes more than 200 editable reports and with the addition of CaseWare Today, can be integrated with Microsoft Outlook. The solution's SQL backend makes it robust enough to handle the needs of larger firms.

Time also includes basic project and contact management features.


Sunshine, N.C.  
(877) 520-1525
Price: Single-user application starts at $295; five concurrent users start at $795


ImagineTime synchronizes with Microsoft Office Outlook and offers a familiar user interface. It allows users to record chargeable and non-chargeable time and expenses, either after-the-fact or using running timers that pause, restart, and create billable slips with the push of a button. Hourly rates can be set for individual staff members or can vary based on five-character work codes applied to individual clients.

When you're ready to bill, invoices can be created from standard templates or customized to meet your firm requirements. Invoices can be generated in batch by type of work or individual customers or on an as needed basis. Transactions can also be integrated with QuickBooks to simplify the accounting process.

Reports include built-in realization reporting that captures write-ups and write-downs, snapshots that show the profitability and performance of each client, and client and staff performance reports. A reporting wizard lets users build their own reports.

Built on a Microsoft Access database, the application includes the following add-on modules: due-date monitoring, document management, calendar, staff scheduling and contact management.


ProSystem fx Practice Management
Riverwoods, Ill.
(800) 739-9998
Price: Office Edition, $3,275 (five users); Basic Edition, $1,350 (five users).


ProSystem fx Practice Management
ProSystem fx Practice Management includes unlimited timers and a user-friendly time-entry screen to encourage daily use by employees. In the event someone forgets to enter their time, the system also offers alerts. An add-on Internet Time Entry module can be used by employees needing to enter time and expenses remotely.

Practice Management also includes a CPE tracking tool for staff members. The billing module offers WYSIWYG invoice formatting and on screen reviews, while the reporting module offers 70 standard reports and a custom report-writer. CCH also offers database clean-up services to keep your solution operating at peak efficiency.

Thomson Practice CS
Thomson Reuters
Dexter, Mich
(800) 968-8900
Price: Starts at $1,800 for five timekeepers.

Practice CS
Practice CS, which can also be deployed in a hosted environment, delivers a series of dashboards for time and billing management. In addition to a time and expense entry tab, the staff dashboard includes a Microsoft Outlook tab so that all information is in one place.

The firm dashboard shows WIP and accounts receivable, staff hours, billable time, and availability while the client dashboard provides critical client information such as WIP by client, billing activity, and outstanding balances.

Thomson also offers an add-on module called Mobile CS which lets staffers enter time and expenses on the go, track mileage using iPhone GPS or via map after the fact, track receipts by linking receipt photos to expense entries in Practice CS, and time outgoing calls made on their iPhone.

Geni Whitehouse CPA.CITP, CSPM
Geni Whitehouse, CPA.CITP, CSPM is the Founder of Even a Nerd Can Be Heard, an organization focused on communication skills for smart people.  With past roles ranging from partner in a CPA firm to leader of the technology practice in a firm, she has a wide range of experiences to share.  She is a former software company executive and industry analyst and a two-time graduate of the Jeff Justice Comedy Workshoppe. She is passionate about finding interesting ways to talk about what some might consider boring subjects and has discovered that there is no shortage of material. She is the author of How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting : 52 ways even a nerd can be heard.
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