Tech & Work

Five apps to automate invoicing for small businesses

Brien Posey recently evaluated a selection of invoicing apps for his business. Here are some pros and cons of the five that topped his list.

About a month ago, I had to go shopping for new invoicing software for my technical writing/consulting business because some aspects of my business have changed. In the process, I evaluated a number of software packages. Here are five of the better options I found.

Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.

1: BillingTracker Pro

Like all the other applications I'll be discussing here, BillingTracker Pro (Figure A) is designed to automate the invoicing process and track cash flow. Out of all the invoicing apps I looked at, BillingTracker Pro offered the best support for foreign clients. The software had no trouble accepting foreign mailing addresses or dealing with foreign currencies.

Figure A

BillingTracker Pro

In the end, though, I didn't choose this software for my own business because some of the field lengths are too limiting. For instance, project names are limited to 40 characters (which is a big deal, given the nature of my business). Likewise, the software allows you to append a note to the end of an invoice, but the space allotted isn't sufficient for including wire transfer instructions (which is also a problem for me).

A single user license of Billing Tracker Pro costs $179, and you can download a free trial.

2: kBilling

kBilling (Figure B) is the invoicing package I eventually decided to purchase for my own business. It has an easy-to-use interface, and it's flexible enough to deal with my business needs. The software includes a number of customizable invoice templates, and you can append extra information (such as wire transfer instructions) to an invoice should you have a client with special requirements.

Figure B

kBilling

The software also offers numerous reporting options. You can export reports to PDF format or view the data in Excel. Likewise, you can export quotes and invoices to PDF files — another important feature for me, since many of my clients require me to send them invoices via email.

When I tried to install the purchased version of kBilling, my antivirus software reported that a DLL file was infected with a virus. However, technical support was very responsive and assured me that AVG Antivirus generates false positives. I confirmed that the product was not infected by scanning it with other antivirus products.

kBilling sells for $99, and you can download a free trial.

3: Ezy Invoice

Ezy Invoice (Figure C) is another application designed to provide you with invoicing and cash flow tracking capabilities. The main benefit to using this application is that it offers a dizzying array of reporting options. The software will allow you to track practically anything that you want.

Figure C

Ezy Invoice

However, I didn't think that the software really lived up to its name. I found the user interface to be cumbersome and somewhat confusing at times. If you look at the task bar, for instance, there isn't even an option to create an invoice. The option is buried in one of the other sections.

Ezy Invoice ranges in price from $99 to $899 depending on the features you want and the number of users you want to license. You can download a free trial.

4: Invoice Expert

Invoice Expert (Figure D) lets you build a customer list, as well as lists of products and vendors. As you begin to create invoices and purchase orders, the software uses an array of reports and dashboard objects to show you your current cash flow situation.

Figure D

Invoice Expert

I almost chose Invoice Expert for my own use. The thing that stopped me was that the invoices themselves are difficult to customize. Don't get me wrong — you can create custom invoices. It's just that in my line of work, different clients require different information on their invoices. For example, some clients require wire transfer information, while other clients require special account codes. Invoice Expert lacked the ability to adapt invoices to the individual client's requirements.

Invoice Expert sells for $69.95, and you can download a free trial.

5: Volutive

Volutive (Figure E) uses a simple relational database to create tables for customers, vendors, and salespeople, as well as invoices and purchase orders. In doing so, Volutive can generate reports of outstanding invoices on a per-customer basis. It also allows you to create a product list and manage your inventory.

Figure E

Volutive

Although this application has the basics covered, it's pretty inflexible. It might work well for anyone who operates a small business that sells specific products, but it doesn't lend itself to service businesses or businesses with a dynamic product line. Still, it's hard to argue with the price: free!

Other picks?

Have you found a good invoicing solution for your small business? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.

About

Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.

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