Regardless of whether value billing or some other form of pricing becomes more prominent for accountants, the accounting profession will continue billing by the hour and, as such, accountants’ longest-standing tool for tracking billable hours, Sage Software’s Timeslips, has been significantly refined this year to match practitioners’ new needs.
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The wide range of product changes, that include enhanced printing and information drill-down capabilities, are needed to make Timeslips, which is sold as a stand-alone offering, more competitive with time and billing tools embedded into much larger suites of products from the accounting profession’s top-name practice management and tax compliance software developers, CCH and Thomson Corp.
Sage Software, which is a world leader in developing accounting and management software for the business community at-large but is not as well –known for accounting practice specific products, has said said that its enhancements to Timeslips will “make every step of your billing cycle more efficient.”
Timeslips’ key enhancements this year includes a Reprint Unpaid Bills function which simplifies the process of reprinting unpaid and partially paid bills, and enables users to sort their accounts payable by largest balance or by invoice date. Capability to e-mail the reprinted bills is also built in.
Another key enhancement is the ability to print bills in pre-formatted bill templates, which users can customize to include such things as company logo or company information. Sage, which sells that customization capability at an extra price, says it’s a great way to give invoices “a clean, professional look.”
Also new is an Interactive Reports function that lets users, as needed, click down to specific details in billing reports’ source data and make changes. Reports are then instantly updated with the revised data. Sage has also improved Timeslips’ printing capabilities to enable most reports to be printed to a formatted Excel file.
Client and work alerts are among the existing functions that have been improved. Timeslips users can now create specific alerts for matters such as specific clients, or timekeepers and tasks, or for groups of clients, timekeepers and tasks.
All the new and improved functions are available in both accountants and lawyers editions of Timeslips. Like several other time and billing products before and after it came on the scene, Timeslips was first designed for lawyer, but its developers created a separate edition for the accounting profession.
Another time and billing system originally designed for lawyers which evolved into an accounting firm tools is TABS 3, now owned by Lexis Nexis, after being originally built by DataTXT Corp. of Cary, N.C.
Meanwhile accounting firms and other users of time and billing software may be moving away from the traditional billing by the hour. Recent research has shown a growing percentage of small accounting firms are migrating to value billing policies in which clients and practitioners determine the price before an engagement begins, based on the value that clients perceive they will get from the work.
The person who has been most actively encouraging accountants and other service professionals to value price, Ron Baker, head of the Verasage Institute professional services practice management think tank, says his goal is to ‘bury the billable hour.”