IT Employment

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.

21 comments
sarahmatthew
sarahmatthew

 You have some good tools listed above, but does any of these suit small business like ours?

I had used several tools in the past including free CMS modules on Drupal, as we run business on it.

We are currently doing good with Zylot - http://www.zylot.com, which suits our requirements.

pdf2xml
pdf2xml

One option that is often overlooked is the ability to automate incoming Invoices and Purchase orders using PDF to XML conversion. Companies like http://ChimpKey.com do a great job providing that service and can allow a company to get their vendors EDI in a matter of a few days. Its a great option people should consider.

metrobill
metrobill

hi, check out the latest addition of 2013 metrobill.net - cloud invoicing, simple and elegant thanks tengku

Julian40
Julian40

Hello Brien, Thank you for the article. No doubt it is of a great help to all of us using invoicing and billing apps. I am familiar with Invoice Expert and Volutive, but I will surely try out other apps from your list. I also use Curd Bee because of its really impressive interface, very easy to understand...I have also found one more extensive list of billing and invoicing apps...so here is my recommendation http://www.pdfconverter.com/resources/blog/best-free-online-billing-and-invoicing-tools Enjoy, Julian

TechSoEasy1
TechSoEasy1

And the one I use and love is Invoicera (http://www.invoicera.com or from the Chrome Web Store). I have it integrated with my Google Checkout/Wallet account to easily collect on invoices. Jeff TechSoEasy

tomatsalvair
tomatsalvair

Nice article but... What about importing data from an existing application? Such as the #1 accounting software tool which I would like to get away from...QB's. Thanks.

davidmalloch
davidmalloch

I'm looking for a simple cheap system that will help me produce quotations and would appreciate suggestions. My requirements: Database shared by users in 3 different branches Quotes only - invoicing and all other applications are handled thru other software and there is no need to retrieve a quote to create an invoice. Item information to be held in an inventory file but no qty on hand checking is necessary Long project names (need 50 characters if possible) Item information has very long product descriptions (ideally held as multiple 50 character fields and printed on multiple lines) but with scope for the content to be modified during quotation entry Only one possible unit of measure per item but quite a varied list - square metres, linear metres, box, etc. Pricing - one price per item to be entered by the user Customer data - basic information only (name and address, fax, email). Modifiable during quote entry. Retrieve a previous quote and copy or modify to create a new quote Forward for management approval Output as print or PDF (ideally including electronic signatures) Multi-currency (preferably within a single quote) Optional totals at any stage of the quote to include a user-selectable range of line item entries and with scope for multiple separate totals within a single quote Multiple terms and conditions lines (ideally selectable by item code) Customisable print format Thanks in advance

kssheoran
kssheoran

For Mac Express Invoice form NCHsoftware dot com, thats another good product, i am using it in my company now, its user friendly, they also have another handy software Express accounting, you just need to install on one computer and rest computers can access it over the internet or intranet, in that way all of your data is at one place,

emilemac
emilemac

I started with the simple Invoice App but then later upgraded to the My Business Cloud as I did not want to be restricted with hardware, especially seeing as I run off a Mac and do not want to install Windows just to run it. But def a great product nonetheless

pcprime
pcprime

I travel a ton so I need things to be cloud based. From Xero to Freshbooks to WHMCS each one has strengths and weaknesses depending on your line of business.

giantcedar
giantcedar

I have used CurdBee, an online app that interfaces with PayPal. Easily customized, options for online or PDF invoices, automatic tax calculations, etc.

billbo72
billbo72

I use MyIT CRM. To customize some of the features of the invoices for my business, I have to manually edit the .php, html and image files but once done, it works great. Oh! It's also free!

Wave_Sailor
Wave_Sailor

What about [b]In-The-Cloud[/b] apps? There are such awesome ones available I personally use [b]Invoice Bubble[/b] - It's simple yet effective and professional http://invoicebubble.com

kskarlatos
kskarlatos

Great post Brian! Two things though that come to mind from my research. These apps all appear to be Windows only and there are truly great "In-the-cloud" apps available: Mac Alternatives: 1. [b]Billings Pro[/b] from [u]marketcircle dot com[/u] 2. [b]Elements CRM[/b] (invoicing plus more) from [u]ntractive dot com[/u] 3. [b]Invoice[/b] from [u]kedisoft dot com[/u] On the Software as a Service side, which is how I ended up going there are many alternatives. 1. [b]Zoho Invoice[/b] (and its big brother Zoho Books) is an extremely easy to use and full featured small business tracking app that I have used for about a year now. There are free and reasonable payment plans and Zoho continually rolls out new functionality and their support is great. From [u]zoho dot com[/u]. 2. [b]Kashoo[/b] is what I am in the process of switching to right now, I also had some changes in my business and Kashoo fits to a T. They also recently announced a free plan that fits many small business (and they have an iPad app). From [u]kashoo dot com[/u] 3. Very honorable mentions also to [b]FreshBooks[/b], [b]InDinero[/b] and [b]Ronin[/b] all of which I have tried at one point or another. Of course, your mileage may vary. Enjoy. Kimon Athens, Greece

sean
sean

Not only is it free, but it does not bombard you with ads and does everything you need for simple invoicing and tracking. I switched to this about 2 years ago and have been extremely happy. When I am at a clients location I can just pull out my iPhone and easily invoice and have it sent to their email within seconds. No need to print a copy. It's a great tool. And did I mention 100% cloud based and FREE.

reshma.roy
reshma.roy

Hi Kimon, Thanks for mentioning us. Zoho Books has definitely come a long way and we hope to continue saving time and effort for our users while accounting. With Bank Feeds on board, data entry is considerably reduced and users now automatically get bank and credit cards transactions into Zoho Books. Again we thank you for the kind words and we would love it if you stayed back with us. Were we missing out on anything that you really wanted ? Reshma Zoho Invoice & Books Team

kskarlatos
kskarlatos

Reshma - Zoho makes some great products, especially the "Business" ones. I could easily stay with Invoice for my own business, but when adding my wife's (which is not services related) it got to complicated and expensive (I would have to upgrade to Books). I am happy to get into specifics if you want at kimon (at) pervasive.gr.