OfficeTime Review by Carolyn Lewis of iDesign

Re-Posted by Spike Radway following the January 31, 2012 program “Best Business Practices for the Graphic Professional” where the program was favorably endorsed by panelist Carolyn Lewis of I Design.

OfficeTime is advertised as “Simply the Best Way to Track Your Time.” I concur. This an excellent program and has made my work time more productive and simplified the process of generating an invoice. This program is easy to use with literally no learning curve. A free 30-day trial is available at OfficeTime.net. I downloaded the program with no hassles and started using it immediately with no research. Recently, an updated version became available and I downloaded it with no trouble. OfficeTime works for both PC and MAC and will sync with ical (and thus with iPhone). Other calendars are not supported.

The interface is clean and straightforward and utilizes three main terms: projects, sessions and categories. The user defines these terms, and to maximize the function, the user should take care in the set up. “Projects” are individual windows that represent a project to be worked on. To be most effective name your projects to include client name. Such as: “ACME newsletter,” “ACME brochure,” “ACME website.”

“Sessions” are a subset of “projects” where the timing actually takes place and where you can makes notes. “Categories” is where you assign the hourly rate. If you charge multiple rates, to be most efficient, you should name your categories to include the rate. Such as: Design $75, Consulting $45, Courtesy $0.

To begin using OfficeTime create and name a project, create and name a session, create and select a category, then hit the start button. When you are finished hit stop. If you get interrupted hit pause. If you need to work on a different project for a few minutes simply open that project and hit the start button. Its easy to have multiple project windows open to track your time on phone calls or other interruptions or to work on another project.

OfficeTime also allows you to enter expenses so that you can generate complete invoices and reports. The function of this feature is fine but the interface could be better. An expense “looks” just like a session in the project window. When creating the categories for expenses use descriptive words and  assign a color so you will be able to easily see what is an expense verses what is a timed work session. For example: “EXPENSE: postage” OfficeTime has a feature to give a “tip of the day” each time the software opens. This was enough information for me to learn what I needed to know. There is also a short tutorial. The “help” is a FAQ that is easy to understand and fairly comprehensive. However, it is not searchable. I copied and pasted to TextEdit to use “find.”

OfficeTime allows for multiple employees but I did not see any FAQ on this subject.

OfficeTime is able to seamlessly sync with ical–information entered in either program appears in the other program. OfficeTime is able to manage time tracking on multiple computers by importing the data file. It updates the projects and does not duplicate sessions. The software license allows for multiple installations for a single user.

All of the sessions in Office Time are fully editable. If you forgot to hit start you just change the time. This feature would be a negative if you have dishonest employees, as you can change any number. To generate an invoice you first create a report and can include sessions and expenses from multiple employees, and multiple projects. If you choose to, the sessions are then grayed out in the project window to indicate that they have been invoiced. When generating the invoice OfficeTime gives you a very handy drop-down window to Address Book. The OfficeTime invoice is a 2 page .rtfd that opens in TextEdit or WordPad. The invoice template allows for rudimentary customization and you are able to insert a logo.

The file would not open or import into Word or InDesign however copy and paste works fine and the text comes in with tab stops. The export feature creates an Excel file. This is a great program and I recommend it for its easy to use, non-fussy interface, and powerful data gathering and processing.

By: Carolyn K Lewis, I Design, 3353 West 95th St., Cleveland OH 44102. idesign@cklewis.com 216-631-1112

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