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Summary:

If you haven’t noticed, the writers here at TAB like to write about invoicing applications. Some of our recent reviews include Billings, OnTheJob and Involer. But forget all of those other invoicing applications. I just found the one true ring of invoicing and time management: GrandTotal […]

grandtotal_icon

If you haven’t noticed, the writers here at TAB like to write about invoicing applications. Some of our recent reviews include Billings, OnTheJob and Involer. But forget all of those other invoicing applications. I just found the one true ring of invoicing and time management: GrandTotal + TimeLog from Media Atelier.

I have been testing this application bundle for the past two weeks ,and I am very impressed with the quality and overall user experience. Because of its integration with Address Book, iCal, MobileMe, and iWork, it really feels like it’s a native app.

GrandTotal

As an invoicing application, GrandTotal has an impressive feature set. Here is a short list of the many things GrandTotal can do:

  • The ability to create recurring invoices
  • An invoice editor that lets you customize your own layout (using existing templates or creating your own)
  • Quotes & account statements
  • Flexible tax settings & multiple currency support
  • Integration with Address Book and TimeLog
  • Catalog for recurring and fixed amount items
  • Reminders for due & overdue invoice
  • Many export options, including PD

Version 1.2 was released this week and with it came the following new features:

  • iPhone application (more below)
  • All-new UI for the Preferences dialog box
  • Ability to create an invoice with just the Gross total
  • Addition of a Recent list to the Overview

As I mentioned, the application is very easy to use. Let’s take a look at the main UI (items are intentionally blurred to protect the innocent):

GT MainGrandTotal Overview Tab – Recent/Open Invoices

untitled-21GrandTotal Preferences – TimeLog Integration

TimeLog

As a time-tracking application, TimeLog’s feature set is also very impressive. Here is a short list:

  • Uses iCal calendars and calculates the time spent on projects. You can assign clients to your projects from the Address Book. Your timesheets are then synced with MobileMe, ensuring they are current no matter which Mac you use.
  • There is a menu item that lets you manage your time easily. You can start and stop the Timer with just one click.
  • TimeLog can track the applications you use and then display the usage in the TimeLine. One caveat here is that it tracks everything you do. The developer does not have blacklist functionality yet, but he is working on it.
  • Export your timesheet to Pages or Numbers — this is great for sharing your data with others prior to sending out an invoice.
  • Integrates with GrandTotal — all of your timesheet data is easily available in GrandTotal for quick processing of invoices.

TimeLog
TimeLog Main Window

iPhone App

New to version 1.2 of GrandTotal is an iPhone app that lets you review your invoices while on-the-go. The best part? It’s free.

In the app, you can view Overdue, Due and Open invoices. You then click the invoices to see the full details as well as the contact information of the client. The client information is “hot” in that it will take you to your address book contact entry so that you can call/email/text them. A nice feature to have would be to re-send any outstanding invoices via the iPhone app.

The one requirement in using the iPhone app is that you must have a MobileMe account to sync your GrandTotal data. Otherwise, the app doesn’t work (which will be a deal breaker for some).

GT - iPhone 1

GrandTotal iPhone App Main Screen

GT iPhone 2GrandTotal iPhone App Invoice Detail Screen

Conclusion

The tag-team of these two products provides a pretty powerful punch in managing your time as well as your billing. The user interface for both GrandTotal and TimeLog is exceptional and makes it pretty easy to get set up for your small business.

Further, you now have iPhone integration so that you can review your invoices and their current standing with your customers. This way, it’s just a quick call away for asking the question: “Is the payment on it’s way out?”

However, are these two apps the best out there? Have we reached invoicing nirvana? Well, I would say it’s pretty close — if you don’t mind a few items:

  1. The price. Compared to the competition, which averages about $40, to purchase both GrandTotal and TimeLog be prepared to spend about $75.
  2. iCal integration is excellent, although there is a big caveat. I would discourage you from using any existing calendars as TimeLog changes the data to existing iCal meeting entries.
  3. Application management. In the competitive space, both Billings and OnTheJob contain the majority of features in one, rather than two applications.

At the end of the day, you can overcome these issues if you want to have the most full-featured time management and invoicing products on the market.

The developer says that more is on the horizon. Maybe an iPhone app for TimeLog? Possible integration with accounting applications? Stay tuned. One thing is for sure, based upon what we have with GrandTotal and TimeLog, we can only continue to expect great things in the future from Media Atelier.

  1. “The user interface for both GrandTotal and TimeLog is exceptional ”

    GrandTotal has a horrendous user interface so much so that it makes me want to stab my eyes out with closest pointy object available. From what you’ve described the iphone app is barely useful and provides in my opinion no functionality, but you can’t complain because it’s free right?

    I would suggest the developers take some time to look into UI design for these 3 applications.

    Billlings or OnTheJob are by far superior with regards to work flow and design. Not to mention that both of these products are cheaper than the GrandTotal & Timelog combo.

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  2. @Pineapple – to each his own on the UI. I agree that each app has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to their respective UIs.

    As I also said in the article, from a price perspective, these two apps are more expensive than Billings or OTJ.

    In regard to the iPhone app, fair point. I would contend that if you can re-submit invoices while on the go, then there will be more value. However, as stated, the app is free.

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  3. Mr Pineapple,

    I have to disagree I own Billings and switched to GrandTotal+Timelog combo, because of the fact the interface and workflow seems more logical for my usages. Also it is nice the developer always is updating its apps on a regular basis and add valuable features is reassuring that this isn’t a dead end solution.

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  4. @mvo
    If you have time could you describe how the interface and workflow of GrandTotal is more logical. It would help me understand and possibly maybe help people looking for a invoicing & timelogging app understand it’s value.

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  5. I’m not going to completely disagree with this mini-review, but I would encourage anyone considering a purchase of timekeeping/invoicing software to try out ALL the major players before making a decision. I tried out 8 different packages (Billings, On The Job, iBiz, Fanurio, OfficeTime, Billable, Studiometry, and iRatchet). Each one has strengths and weaknesses, and no one package is perfect for every situation.

    My main concern in picking a package was the flexibility of the invoicing. That’s what the client sees, so that’s what matters most to me. Unbelievably, Billings can’t separate tasks by project on the invoice (sorting a big list of tasks by project is not enough). iBiz can’t “loop” through the data more than once, which means you can’t have a summary section with summary project information, followed by a detail section with detailed project information. On The Job has an absolutely beautiful UI, but the invoicing is still rudimentary, even in the new version. If you just need a great timekeeping application though, On The Job rocks.

    I ended up buying Fanurio. The invoicing is so powerful: as far as I can tell, you can do pretty much anything you want. I was able to perfectly replicate my hand-made Excel invoice in Fanurio, and the developer will create the HTML template for you for free, so you don’t even have to know how to write HTML (which I don’t).

    This is not a sales pitch. This is just a word to the wise: figure out what is important to you, and try all the packages to see what meets your needs.

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  6. are there any reports?
    bl

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  7. I am a long time TimeLog user, so when GrandTotal became available, I was truly excited. The TimeLog/GrandTotal bundle is simply amazing! It lives up to all my hopes for a time / invoicing solution, plus adds many more useful features. In addition, the developer(s) is extremely responsive, often adding and updating the applications with new features. If you’re looking for a brilliant time / invoicing solution, I can’t recommend TimeLog and GrandTotal enough. 5 stars!

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  8. I’m looking for a solution as well yet I haven’t really defined my needs as well as discussed what kind of timekeeping and invoicing my mother needs for her sole practice legal firm.

    There are some good choices here and what it’s really going to take for me is solid linkage to some sort of accounting package. GrandTotal and TimeLog have been highly rated and GrandTotal hasn’t even hit Rev 2.0 yet. . Billings is another app that is moving forward yet still is missing a few things (most of the attorney that I’ve read struggle with it handling different billing rates)

    I’m glad there are so many good options on the Mac for invoicing. I’m confident that no matter what a persons needs are there will be a program to suit them.

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  9. I tried Grand Total + Timelog extensively, and thanks to user Pineapple discovered On the Job 3 which hands down is a way better application all around.

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  10. Hmm… Grand Total + TimeLog looks promising, especially given GT’s ability to support European practices, but I can’t seem to find a way to manage projects that aren’t based primarily on time.

    As a translator/copy editor, I normally bill by the word, and Billings seems to have a nice, if basic, project management function that handles that nicely. With its project view, I can track which projects are in progress or completed, which is something that (on first glance) doesn’t seem to be possible (or at least not intuitive) with On The Job 3.

    Oh well. Guess I’ll stick with Billings for now, even though it’s not perfectly suited to my needs either.

    Cheers,
    ~G

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