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Cool Tool: TimeTTracker

Tracking tracking is critical to developers who bill by the hour or need to show how much time they worked on projects for clients. White Light Computing 1.0 (a.k.a before-Frank {g}) was a series of simple entries into QuickBooks Pro. All the entries flow directly to the invoices sent to the customers. I have the software running on my machine so this really was not a big deal and the time entry in QuickBooks is easy to use for the most part.

On to White Light Computing 2.0 stocked with a full-time employee and the need to track time so the overhead of administrative headaches does not drive me crazy. I had four requirements:

  1. Easy to use.
  2. Reasonably priced.
  3. Integration with QuickBooks to avoid the duplicate entry.
  4. It could not be TimeSlips which personally I tried in a former job and it stunk.

Frank made a recommendation of TimeTTracker from R&F; Consulting based on some experience he has with the product. I contacted the vendor with some questions about the integration with QuickBooks, how the data synchronized between TimeTTracker and QuickBooks, and how I would get the settings from QuickBooks (like customer lists, billing items, etc.) to TimeTTracker on employee’s computers. The sales person was very nice and very responsive. He even answered my technical questions about the software, the language it is written in (“old-fashioned, but fast C++/MFC”, developer’s words not mine, but I told him I prefer “mature” technology too {g}), how it works with the SQL Server Compact edition, and how this would not conflict with the my existing SQL Server installation.

The process did not start out real smooth. I cannot say for sure what went wrong, but after the initial install of TimeTTracker my ActiveSync to my Treo broke. TimeTTracker has a Windows Mobile component to keep track of your time and it synchronizes with the desktop component. I think this is cool, but don’t anticipate using the phone to track my time. Still this was frustrating. So I spent a few days (linear time not actual time) fixing ActiveSync, and reinstalled TimeTTracker. Everything worked the second time around.

I have to say, this program is a winner. The synching of customer lists, items, etc. is smooth. I add something new in QuickBooks and jump to TimeTTracker and tell it to synch. Seven seconds later everything is up to date. The actual time entry is easy to use and has a killer feature called “templates” where I set up a template with the employee name (me), preselected customer, item (determines the rate), and whether it is billable or not. Now all I have to do is pick the template, pick the date, enter in the time and description and save. In QuickBooks I had to pick each setting each time I entered in time for a project. This is going to save me a lot of time each week.

I export the QuickBook settings to an XML file and send it to Frank who imports the settings into his copy of TimeTTracker. He exports his time and sends it to me once a week. I import the file into TimeTTracker, review and clean up entries, then upload them to QuickBooks for invoicing.

The entire process is slick and will save me a ton of time. The license for the QuickBooks version is only US$90. If you don’t need the QuickBooks integration you can pick up the standard version for US$40. There is a version for Microsoft Office Accounting too. I have only been using this product a week, but it has made my administrative life better.

Nice recommendation Frank, thanks.

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