CashboardIf you’re a fan of 37signal’s Basecamp, you’ll probably like Cashboard, a new application designed to help service-oriented businesses manage estimates, invoices, timesheets and payments. It’s like a combination of SlimTimer for time tracking and Blinksale for invoicing mixed with some basic accounting. It also complements project management systems well. You could, for example, start off in Cashboard by sending a project estimate to a potential client. Then, once the project has been given the go, plan the project and communicate as you normally would in your project management application. While you work, track time, send out invoices, and keep an eye on company payments with Cashboard. And to make things even easier, Cashboard integrates Basecamp so you can sync projects, contacts, and tasks between both applications.

Cashboard has four main areas: Estimates, Projects, Timesheets, and Accounting. Let’s start things off in the estimates area. This is where you go when you need to send an estimate to a potential client for a project. Cashboard allows you to list each task for a project estimate, set with a hourly rate or flat fee, and send the estimate to your potential client. What’s also nice is the ability to add a best and worst case estimate for each task so the client has an idea of possible overhead. Cashboard then allows you to either have your client login to Cashboard’s client area and accept the agreement or let you print out the estimate and send it to your client.

Cashboard Project(Note: figures in the screenshots are just test numbers)

The projects area is the main area of Cashboard and is where you will spend most of your time. Like the Estimates page, you can add and remove tasks and reorder as needed. You and your employees can also log time for a specific task in the task overview. Cashboard also made it very easy for you to keep on top of costs as you add time to tasks. A row will appear stating the billable hours and amount compared to the original estimates or planned hours, which is very helpful for service-oriented businesses. It’s also important to note that when you create your company, you fill in a default hourly rate, but the hourly rate for each employee can be changed on a per project basis in the details area of a project. Cashboard will spot the difference and show your clients the totals based on the company hourly rate while you can view totals based on the company rate and employee rate.

You and your employees can also log their time in the Timesheets area. I’ve tested many time tracking products and I must say Cashboard has done a pretty good job with it. What I like is that it doesn’t force you to track your time a certain way. You can submit time on a daily basis adding the hours you worked for the day manually or using their stopwatch counter. Or you can go into the weekly tab and fill in the amount of hours you worked each day of the week at the end of the week. You can also submit as you go in the “All-time” tab. Whichever way works best for your team, you can do. The only problem I have with the Timesheets page is that the stopwatch counter cuts off when you close the window (maybe adding a simple session when the counter starts would solve this).

The project page also allows you to create invoices from your company’s logged time. Just click, “Create Invoice,” and it will automatically grab the amount of hours each employee has worked and fill in the information for the invoice. You can also add your own items to the invoice manually so anything that wasn’t in the original task list can get invoiced. Cashboard also lets you change the invoice id, sales tax, date range, and add a small note to your invoice. When your invoice is good and ready, send it to your client with Cashboard, which will give your client a login to review it, or print it out to mail to your client. Once you receive the payment from your client, head to the invoice, click “Add Payment” and fill in the amount the client paid up. To close an invoice, just mark the invoice as “paid in full” when adding a payment.

Ok. You’ve created estimates, projects, and invoices. Now you’re ready to view the Accounting area. It’s no QuickBooks, but it covers recent invoices, recent payments, and provides helpful information about client balances and net profits. Perhaps my favorite section of the invoicing page is “Company Cash Stats” which shows totals each employee of your team has made and how much you received from invoices with the end net profit. The cash stats can also be found in an individual project page letting you see how much profit your company actually took in after paying your employees for time on a project. Another helpful section is “Account Balances” which lists each client with collected information on invoices and payments giving you a quick glance at who’s on top of payments and who’s not. My only complaint about the accounting section is that there doesn’t appear to be a way to export the data or print it out.

In all, Cashboard seems to be a helpful product for service-oriented businesses. It’s a well thought out product that was obviously created by people in the design and development industry. You can create estimates, manage projects, manage timesheets from company employees and subcontractors, send off invoices to clients, review company payments and more. I was a bit overwhelmed at first and had some confusion when invoicing clients and splitting employee earnings (figured this out after adding employee hourly rates), but the rest came without problem. It’s also worth mentioning that Cashboard has a Mac Dashboard widget for submitting time and that Basecamp users can sync tasks and use projects from Basecamp.

Cashboard is currently in its alpha stage and offers plans ranging from free to $40 per month. However, and take note, the pricing page states prices are at half price during it’s alpha stage and that pre-launch users will get a promotion code for two free months once the alpha stage has completed.


39 Comments on “Cashboard: Who Needs An Accountant?”

  1. Glenn Waldron says:

    I have been test-driving Cashboard, and I can say that of all the “consulting support” services popping up out there, these guys have come the closest so far to getting it right. The main thing they need is more detailed reporting … which they are working on as we speak, according to the company.

  2. Eli Horne says:

    While I cringe at the design in some of those screenshots, I think there really is a need to marry the services of blinksale and that of basecamp. Being a freelancer with smaller project loads, I don’t really forsee myself ever ordering the hugely expensive plans that include time tracking, and yet that is what I need most.

    I love the API’s these services include that allows them to interact and share projects/clients, but really… just do it in one program. Please?

    Nice review, BTW. Found it via twitter.

  3. Ryan says:

    Great review as always. Although, you never mentioned anything about the options available for clients to pay their invoices online. I’m currently using FreshBooks and really love the ability to give clients the option to pay online through many different services (I use paypal). I’m notified through paypal, and FreshBooks updates the account info automatically. I searched CashBoard’s site and could not find any mention of online payment plugins.

  4. Nicabar says:

    I would like to 2nd Ryan. I love the review, but I have been using FreshBooks for awhile now and it is the perfect fit for my small business. The design is also pleasing on the eyes.

    http://www.freshbooks.com/

  5. Seth B says:

    Wow Brian, I appreciate the very thorough review. Thank you.

    Just wanted to let everyone know that Cashboard is still very early on in it’s development – we launched on April 4th.

    We’re working on a fairly large list of features before we go beta, and improvements are being added daily, if not more often. I just got done pushing multi currency support this afternoon.

    It’s funny to read the comments about the design. I’ve gotten about a 70% of people who absolutely love it, while 30% aren’t into it at all. I think it’s a taste thing.

    Regardless, those of you who aren’t too happy with it will be pleased to know an upcoming feature will allow you to upload your logo and customize the application’s colors ala Basecamp.

    I’m handling all support duties right now, so if you have a comment on the application, please send it over!

    – Seth B – Developer/Designer of Cashboard ;)

  6. subLog : Cool Cashboard review over at SolutionWatch says:

    [...] Brian over at SolutionWatch wrote a glowing review of Cashboard. [...]

  7. Matt says:

    > compliments project management

    “complements”, I think you mean.

  8. Brian Benzinger says:

    @Ryan- Thanks for bringing that up. I should have mentioned it but it managed to slip my mind. Cashboard does not have an invoice payment system. It would be nice to see that implemented down the road.

    @Matt- Thank you. You’re correct. I fixed the post.

  9. subLog : Pay for blog play? No thanks... says:

    [...] Sure hyping a product is difficult work. Getting the word out there is not easy, but I’m under the impression if you build something quality, the reviews will come in due time. [...]

  10. links for 2007-05-01 | mad dog in the fog says:

    [...] Cashboard: Who Needs An Accountant? “…a new application designed to help service-oriented businesses manage estimates, invoices, timesheets and payments” (tags: webtools enterprise2.0 projectmanagement ebpp timetracking) [...]

  11. Nichelle says:

    I actually would recommend using this since it integrates with Basecamp. In fact the only problem I have with Cashboard is the name since “cash” connotes that has more to do with cash management, but really the application is more about invoicing and time tracking. Now if a Wesabe-like thing was added on to this, then I would prefer this over the Quickbooks online. Then the only thing lacking would some kind of report writer which could generate profit-loss statements, balance sheets and other reports that Quickbooks can do. So I am hoping that one of these days there will be the perfect Web 2.0 application that can do three essential things:

    1. Do time-tracking and invoicing effortlessly online.
    2. Do cash management (upload of banking and credit card transactions
    3. Do dashboard reporting by creating profit/loss and balance sheet statements, average monthly income and average monthly expenses.

  12. Jakob says:

    A feature sorely missing in many time tracking and accounting applications is the ability to have different currencies for each customer. I am based in Sweden so SEK is my main currency but I have clients in the US as well as the rest of Europe so my software needs to handle SEK as well as USD and EURO, so far I haven’t found one (for Mac) that does, and is reasonably priced as well.

    For my accounting needs, I have to convert all foreign currencies to SEK, only problem is that I have a PayPal account which doesn’t track exchange rates at the time a payment was made, only when it was withdrawn to my regular bank account requiring me to use an average rate – in the end I pay more taxes than I need. PayPal exchange rates are considerably less favorable than those you get elsewhere so an application that would help me estimate the exchange rate for money on foreign accounts (such as PayPal and similar services) at the time the payment was made would make things much easier.

    Perhaps the easiest solution would be not to use PayPal at all and get a regular merchant account instead, which makes sense considering how poorly they treat their seller customers.

  13. Tomasz Gorski says:

    Brilliant idea. Thanks for very interesting article. btw. I really enjoyed reading all of your articles. It’s interesting to read ideas, and observations from someone else’s point of view… makes you think more. Keep up the good work. Greetings

  14. Seth B says:

    @Jakob – Sending invoices in other currencies is on the menu, and will be coming ASAP.

    @Nichelle – We are a very new product, and will also be working on more detailed reports, and possible integration with Quickbooks.

    I also wanted to let everyone know that we released a major update yesterday that includes a big redesign to the documents Cashboard produces, along with the ability to set your own custom color schemes.

    Enjoy :)

  15. Michael Vu says:

    Freshbooks is the way to go!

  16. Alix Axel says:

    Similar to WeSpendMoney.com, cool.

  17. Manny Hernandez says:

    I think my company accounting is going to get a lot simpler!

    Thanks for sharing this, Brian!

  18. john says:

    looks like an easy way to keep your accounting
    is there a demo version or something?
    thanks

  19. Seth B says:

    John, we do better than a demo version…you can use the application for free with a couple of restrictions (outlined on that page).

    I also wanted to note that we released PDF support a couple of days ago and continue to work on new features at a rapid pace.

  20. Andrew says:

    I will sign up and check out the PDF file also
    Thanks a lot!

  21. Seth B says:

    Windows users we’ve now got a Yahoo Timer Widget for you…

  22. zymee.com says:

    Cashboard: Who Needs An Accountant?…

    Cashboard is currently in its alpha stage and offers plans ranging from free to $40 per month. However, and take note, the pricing page states prices are at half price during it’s alpha stage and that pre-launch users will get a promotion code for tw…

  23. Addict says:

    Itry demo version and i like it i think im gonna get the full for me

  24. Seth B says:

    Just a heads up, there have been tons of improvements and updates since this article, including a design refresh.

    Go check out the info blog for all the latest.

  25. instalacje pneumatyczne says:

    I hope that this demo will convince me to buy full version. Wish me good testing !

  26. kris says:

    what a full!!!!!!!!!!

  27. kris says:

    i wish you some goood testin!!!~~~

  28. yellowpages says:

    Fantastic article covering some points I really needed some good usability info for.

  29. RE Who Needs An Accountant says:

    complements project management :)

  30. Blog Directory says:

    Cool application. Great for small business enterprise.

  31. Diety says:

    Nice applications but it’s no use for me in Poland. Do you plan international versions?

  32. Jack says:

    It seems to be a very helpful application. Keeping track of invoices is difficult for small companies. But for the moment not so useful for European companies.

  33. Manuel says:

    I’ve just signed up; let’s see if we can get it tuned for EU based users. If Steh – by the way, great job so far – can add sone EU basics like VAT numbers, extra doc templates (pro forma invoice, credit note), … it might work well for all of us!

  34. Adrienne Adams says:

    I’ve been using Cashboard for about a week and I think it’s amazing. I’ve been a FreshBooks user for over a year, but Cashboard is a strong contender to capture all my time tracking & invoicing needs. I also used Blinksale for a while as I really liked how it handled invoices, but to me it makes sense to integrate time tracking and invoicing in one app. I don’t use Basecamp much so I can’t evaluate Cashboard’s ability to integrate the two. Here are some features of Cashboard I like:

    Fully customizable invoice and estimate templates. You get to do pretty much whatever you want to the HTML and CSS.
    Overview page is great. I especially like that it tells me if there’s uninvoiced time on a project, something FreshBooks doesn’t do (or if it does, I never figured out where that info is…)
    Estimates: easy to create & send to client. The first time I created an estimate my client remarked on how professional it looked.
    Cash stats: if you have employees, see at a glance who’s making you money. ;-)
    Account balances: see at a glance who owes you money & who you owe time to.
    Developers: Seth is right there to answer questions or check into a problem you’re having. He also seems very receptive to suggestions on how to make the app better.

    A few things I’d like to see included as the application develops:
    Better account management. Right now there’s no good way to deal with people who don’t pay their invoices in full.
    Some tweaks to the UI. Sometimes I get a bit lost, though overall I think the design is very logical and well thought out. The web 2.0-ish look might turn some people off, but it’s LIGHT YEARS ahead of FreshBooks “party like it’s 1999” interface.

    I’d recommend you sign up for the 30-day trial and put the app thorough its paces. Everyone has different needs, but for me I think it’s just the ticket.

  35. Kaszuby says:

    Very nice, but what about international application, eg.Poland

  36. pozycjonowanie stron says:

    Hi. You know what guys? I think this is very good idea, but I am affraid but not for me :|

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  38. Sports Artist says:

    I’ve been looking for a program that can help manage the money part of my business. I’m not sure if this is the one though.

  39. Rollo says:

    Very useful advices. I think I will search more about this on the Net, Guys. Many thanks