Review: OfficeTime 1.6

OfficeTime is a robust time tracker for small workgroups. It allows you to track time spent on projects for multiple clients. It supports multiple timers, clients, categories and has an amazing report feature. You can even consolidate multiple workers’ project times into one report. OfficeTime also integrates with iCal and Address Book.

OfficeTime is a project based time tracker, so you start working with it by creating a new project first. Each project has one client, can have multiple sessions, and can have many categories. Categories are normally used to organize your activities. For example, you cam have a category for writing a brochure text and another one for writing a white paper.

Timing window

Prices or fees are set on a category basis — if you want to have different fees for the same category but for different clients, you’ll need to create a category for each. That’s not as efficient as it could be, but it’s also not a deal breaker. The user guide (help file) states the application will be upgraded soon to have more robust support for client tracking and reporting.

OfficeTime also has the ability to work with expenses. This functionality can also be used to add all sorts of costs and prices for items that you cannot time, such as materials, but also fixed fee tasks or jobs.

Fixed fees or expenses

OfficeTime’s strength, however, is with timed jobs. In order to provide granular control and a close follow-up of what you do with your time, OfficeTime uses sessions. Each time block that you regard as a complete task or job can be a session, but as you can start and stop sessions at will, you can also let sessions coincide with categories within any one project.

As OfficeTime’s greatest strength lies in showing you where your time went, it pays off to create sessions on a one-task-per-session basis, though. That way you can also track your time in iCal.

For small workgroups — I would set the efficiency limit to about 10 people maximum, but your mileage may vary — OfficeTime allows you to export reports and consolidate them. You might need to consolidate on the data level; in that case, you’ll have to send the complete data file to your colleague. Because that is not too efficient, you might set each copy of OfficeTime to save data to a shared drive, from where an administrator can consolidate the file.

If all you need is to see each employee’s spent time, they can also publish their iCal calendars so others can see how they spent their time.

The workgroup capabilities OfficeTime offers are a bit skinny, which is why I think it will become a mess quickly once you cross the 10-people mark. For example, the suggestion to save each data file to a shared drive is a nice workaround, but what OfficeTime really needs to offer a robust solution in this domain is a database.

On the bright side, OfficeTime is capable of automatically sending events to another copy of OfficeTime across an Internet connection. The developer makes clever use of iCal’s publishing functionality, because what happens is this: you send your sessions to iCal and publish the iCal calendar that holds your sessions, then ask the recipient to subscribe to your calendar and have their OfficeTime copy read sessions from the published iCal calendar.

Quick Report

The reports generated in OfficeTime are really good. They are very complete, you can tune in on date ranges, categories, projects and employees, you can create multiple subtotals, and you’ll get a nice pie chart that shows it all. In addition, you can export the lot to Excel or Numbers. And of course, you can create an invoice.

Invoices are based on templates in RTF format. The advantage is that you can quickly and effortlessly create a template yourself. By studying the variables used in the default template, you can easily change the order or the complete design. The disadvantage is that you’ll always end up with an invoice that can be changed in MS Word or TextEdit, which makes it useless as proof of work in some parts of the world. Here I found OfficeTime lacking functionality. What really should happen is that OfficeTime generates invoices that cannot be altered but the way Marketcircle’s Billings does.

Invoice creation is easy

In Billings, an invoice is a binary item within the system that can only be altered by going back to a job slip. In OfficeTime, I can alter the invoice right there in Word. As I said, in many countries
this would not pass the taxman’s test. However, it’s also true that Billings has an awful and incredibly difficult templating system. It would be nice if OfficeTime could bridge the two worlds and offer more legal security as well as an easy to use template system.

At the end of a week’s trying out OfficeTime’s features, I was impressed with the program’s user-friendliness and powerful reporting capabilities. I also found its workgroup capabilities quite sufficient for small offices. The only thing I found a bit sub par was the invoicing system, although to be honest, not less than managing invoices using Excel and a paper time sheet. OfficeTime costs approx. 30.00 Euros and is available for both Mac and Windows.

OfficeTime will be available as an iPhone App too. It will sync wirelessly to the desktop.

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One Reply to “Review: OfficeTime 1.6”

  1. Well researched review. Good job.

    We agree. We love OfficeTime’s ease of invoicing but plan to offer more robust tracking and direct export to PDF. Luckily, on a Mac, you can easily take the existing invoice and print to PDF to send to a client.

    We have some medium sized teams enjoying OfficeTime already but agree that a networked version would improve things. We’re planning a super easy to use team version.

    Stephen
    http://www.officetime.net

    Like

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