There are many benefits of time tracking in graphic design. As a graphic design business grows, using time tracking software can help you keep organized, properly bill your clients, set your rates and study your workflow. There are many stand-alone time tracking applications, as well as options that are part of larger project management packages.
DesignSoft offers a variety of options for PC or Mac including StopWatch Plus, TimeSheet, TimeSheet Manager and Creative Billing Online. Priced together at $59.95, StopWatch Plus and TimeSheet are for simple time recording. Individually timed tasks are recorded with employee, job number, fee code, description and project name. These applications can stand-alone for keeping track of time worked. TimeSheet manager ($299.95) collects data from TimeSheet by a number of methods (such as over a network or by email) and combines it, allowing you to analyze and track time for any number of employees, or just for yourself. Creative Billing Online is an online service that includes not only time tracking, but also project management and automated billing, accessible from a browser. The service starts at $15 per month.
Billings, a Mac-only time tracking software from MarketCircle, focuses on estimates, recording time by task, and automated billing. With an extremely attractive and user-friendly interface, Billings starts by creating your client list from a custom group in Apple’s Address Book. From there, you create projects associated with those clients, and then working slips (individual tasks) within a project. Billings automatically calculates your fees based on hourly rates, and generates invoices from a variety of templates (or create your own) to send to clients. Built in reporting allows you to study your payment history. Billings version 2.5 is priced at $59.00.
HourGuard is a simple, free, Windows application for time tracking. Click start to record time worked, which HourGuard converts to a timesheet entry, and finally tasks are combined into full timesheets with a breakdown of what you did and how long it took. Invoices and reports can be generated from your timesheets for easy billing.
iBiz 3, a Mac package priced at $49.99, integrates with iCal, Address Book, Spotlight searching and any number of files for time tracking and billing. Using the document monitor, you can associate files (such as a Photoshop document) to a project and automatically track time when that file is in use. Customizable invoices and estimates can be automatically emailed to clients, and reports are easily generated about clients, projects, and billing. Upgrade to their networking options to track multiple employees.
Studiometry 5 is a full-featured project management tool for Mac or PC priced at $209.95. Start by tracking time with customized rates, then automatically invoice for that time. Because Studiometry is also for project management, your time tracking and billing is tied in with all of your business activities and data, such as projects, tasks, debts, credits, and accounting. Permissions can be set for multiple employees, tracking time and to-do’s for each, and all the data can be synced over your network or the Internet.
Basecamp is another full-featured project management system, which is completely managed online, making the focus on collaboration. You can tie your to-do lists to employees, and in turn to the time spent on those tasks. Basecamp can be accessed by users from anywhere, and features messages, milestones (for deadline tracking), writeboards (shared text files), online chatting and file sharing. Several packages are offered, with the lowest including time tracking priced at $49 per month, giving you 3 GB of file storage, 35 active projects, chatting, SSL security, and unlimited users.