CreativePro Office: All-in-One Suite for Freelance Web Workers

logocpoLately I’ve been on a bit of a streamlining kick. That is, I’ve been trying to find simple, elegant solutions to multiple problems in one convenient package. Easier said than done, unfortunately. The problem is getting everything you need in one place, in exactly the way you want it. CreativePro Office is another entry that might fit the bill, and it’s designed for people just like me, apparently. Of course, they all claim to be designed for people just like me.

What CreativePro Office offers is one-stop shopping for project management, time tracking, invoicing and job quotes. That’s a lot to fit under one roof, and the solution is web-based, so you don’t have to clutter up your hard drive.

An account at CreativePro Office is free, which is priced perfectly for me, and probably for most independent contractors and small groups of creative professionals. For $150, you can also opt to install the CreativePro software on your own server. That’s definitely well-priced compared to other similar solutions, since it’s a one-time fee, not a subscription or a renewable license.

picture-21Once you sign up for your free account, you’ll have access to your own personalized CreativePro Office dashboard. By default, your dashboard looks like the screenshot above, displaying your Projects, Invoices, Calendar, a search bar for your account, and Notes. You can customize your dashboard screen by minimizing, adding, or removing individual boxes on this page, in the same way that you would with iGoogle. You can also add Delicious bookmarks and RSS feeds to your dashboard, with support for more widgets to come in future updates. The calendar is completely resident on the dashboard, so you can add and delete events without switching tabs.

The menu along the top of the dashboard give you access to the Clients, Projects, Timesheets, Finances and My Team sections. The menus sport drop-down interfaces so you can quickly access commonly used features without changing pages.

picture-31Adding a contact presents a lot of options, although only a couple are required if you’re in a hurry or don’t need someone’s full biography. Still, all the options, including notes and tags, make CreativePro Office’s contact manager a fairly good CRM solution, as long as you don’t need anything too heavy. Viewing any client also displays their associated projects and invoices, if any exist.

picture-51The Projects page allows you a fair number of options when setting projects up, including adding a relevant web site, which is particularly useful for web design professionals with a lot of concurrent, ongoing jobs. You can also classify projects by category, the list of which is completely customizable by the user. Once a project is created, you can add tasks and milestones, which are automatically displayed in your calendar if there are dates attached. You can also attach invoices to the project.

picture-61Timesheets in CreativePro Office are very simple. You choose a project, and optionally a task attached to that project, then you just type in the number of hours worked each day of the week, and a weekly total is automatically generated. You can also add comments to each day, in case something needs annotation. This data can then be used to automatically generate reports. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like you can attach a timesheet report to an invoice, which is something I like to do for greater reporting transparency, depending on the client.

picture-10I do like the invoicing interface overall, however, which is found under the Finances tab. It’s simple, but you can still customize things like the type of item invoiced, whether you’re billing by hour, by day, or by product. You can also keep track of expenses from the Finances page, something invoicing software alone doesn’t usually offer.

For my purposes — small consulting, design, and editing projects — CreativePro Office is as close as I’ve come to a perfect all-in-one solution. I’m still too nervous to trust everything to the web, but with the easy ability to print paper and PDF backups, it might just become my primary project management tool.

Does CreativePro Office meet your project management, time tracking, invoicing and quoting needs?

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