Review: Billings Pro

Marketcircle’s Billings is one of the market leading invoice applications. Billings Pro is a workgroup or departmental invoicing solution, based on a client/server model. Billings Pro has the same interface as the ‘single person’ Billings. It’s the networking functionality, its support for multiple currencies and more variables in an invoice, estimate or Pro Forma invoice that set it apart from its sibling.

Marketcircle has made sure it hasn’t changed anything to the Billings interface. That means the professional version of Billings breathes careful and thoughtful design. Just like Billings 3, Billings Pro has multiple timers, recurring invoices, and an interface that is as easy to use as it is pleasing to the eye — including the all-new icon. The only thing they haven’t changed and should have made easier to work with, is the template designer for invoices, estimates and reports.

Billings Pro is a complete multi-user system conceived to be managed on a Mac, with users in the field carrying with them Billings Pro as a native app on iPhone, and using the system as a web application on Windows, Linux, Android, Blackberry Torch, Palm Pre and the iPad.

Billings Pro on the Mac is the front-end of Billings Pro and is built for managers, business owners and partners, but it can be used by individual pros as well, of course.

The system will keep everything in sync automatically. Via Switchboard, a free service Marketcircle provides for you to synchronise the server with all Billings Pro clients, you’ll get access to the Timecard interface, which is a simple and intuitive web interface for active projects with time, expense and mileage entry capabilities. Timecard can be used from smartphones like the Android, Blackberry Torch and iPhone, and mobile devices such as an iPod Touch.

You can turn the Billings Pro Server off at any time.

Billings Pro also includes an optional, per-project “approval” workflow, allowing a manager to review any and all timeslips before they are available for invoicing, and it has three special invoicing templates that can be used if you provide professional services or if you are an attorney at law.

Statements are included too. Creating one involves hovering over an overdue balance, then clicking to send the statement. Multi-currency in Billings Pro means that each client can have its own currency and locale setting, and that invoices, statements and estimates show monetary values in the locale the client is, while Billings Pro shows you the values in your local currency.

Obviously, the Billings Pro Server is the the core of the system. Marketcircle doesn’t specify the database technology used, but from the Console and the Activity Monitor we could deduct they are using PostgreSQL, an industrial grade database. All communication to the server is done securely over encrypted connections (SSL). The Server can be installed on any stationary Mac — I installed it on a Mac Mini and it performed great. It’s also very easy to set up.

Switchboard helps with synchronisation. It doesn’t require a network administrator, only access through the browser to Marketcircle’s Switchboard URL. With Switchboard you simply create an account and provide users with a username and password. From there, accessing the database requires logging in and that’s it.

Billings Pro features Marketcircle’s 4th generation sync technology. Billings Pro Mac synchronizes automatically in the background every few minutes when the server can be reached. The only time a connection is an absolute must is when you are generating invoices, estimates or statements.

Billings Pro is fully integrated with Daylite. You can therefore invoice customers from within Billings Pro and create projects, working slips and other project material as well as track payments in Daylite.

Billings Pro is a dream to use with its attention to detail and user-friendliness. It costs 140.00 Euros per user, or 20.00 Euros per user per month if you opt for the cloud based service. A 5-user license costs 1000.00 Euros. All these prices are approximations based on the current USD/EU ratio.

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