The secret of good Time Tracking software

Time tracking features or ease of use?

Look at what is available out there right now and you'll see that different companies have different interpretations of what makes a good tool.

Personally, I think the requirements are very simple:

  • Always within reach

  • Simple simple simple

  • Always within reach

  • Allows my clients to see progress

  • Always within reach

  • Works out totals for me

  • Always within reach

Maybe you see what I'm getting at?

It's not what it can do, it's what you do with it

In the development of Billabill I've talked to alot of people, and many tell me about the software or service that they have, how powerful it is, and their good intentions that they are going to start using it one of these days.

The reality about Time, Expense or Mileage tracking tools is that they are absolutely useless if you don't use them today, tomorrow and every day. Guaranteed, if you don't get into daily habits to track what you do, you're going to forget stuff - and for many, that means missing out on money.

How does Billabill help

I use billabill.. and I'm a total geek. I created the site to track my time usage with one client. Strangely, I had three tools at the time that COULD track time, but I just wasn't using them consistently. One was a project management tool ( that could track time ), one was an Invoicing tool ( that could track time ) and one was an accounting tool ( that could track time ). What I wanted was a TIME TRACKING TOOL that was MADE to track time.

iPhone Application ( and mobile support )

I created a simple shell of an application, but after 3 days got tired of logging in to use it.. so I created a simple iPhone login that stripped out many of the features of the main login allowing me to quickly and easily pick a project, add a duration and quick message, which instantly became an entry for todays date. Simple - Easy.

Email support

Two days later, I realized as I sat at my desk dealing with some issues with a couple of clients, I realized that there was a pattern,

  • I got an email from them

  • I did some work for them

  • I replied to their email that it was "done"

Well that got me thinking. What if I could BCC that email to Billabill, and have that create a "reminder" for me to add an event for that client the next time I login?

So, I built that. It's great. Just send a quick email to Billabill, or BCC an email you are sending anyway, and next time you login there it is. The date is automatically filled in for you and by default the event message is the email subject. Just pick a project, add an amount, and you are good to go.

Instant Message Support

A couple of days later, it occurred to me that the Reminder system could be reused.. I could use any mechanism to get something into billabill - like IM. I use it all day - wouldn't it be great if I could IM Billabill?

A couple of days later, I sat down with a buddy of mine in our local watering hole and we ( mostly HE ) built it. Now you can IM Billabill to create reminders. I use it all the time. At the end of the day, if I can't be bothered to login and make detailed entries, I just IM something like "5 hours on ...". If I don't login for a week, who cares - I have all the information I need, and Billabill helps me quickly turn those reminders into events.

Coming soon - Geek Codes

Well that got me thinking - if I can create reminders by email and IM, how about creating entire entries? That's on the way with "geek codes". Using the same mechanism, you'll be able to send something like:

big-project 4:30 Worked my butt off finishing feature
business-miles 40miles Client visit
big-project $4.35 Starbucks

Get it? That's the project code, what needs to be stored, and the description. If Billabill understands it, you are good to go - if not, Billabill will just create a reminder for later.