I don’t know what it is about accounting. It is really boring. And yet I am repeatedly drawn to the challenge of finding a system that works for architects.
This past week I revisited two services that I hadn’t looked at for over five years - LessAccounting and FreeAgent. I have already put LessAccounting aside for the time being. You would probably need a better timekeeping system than LessAccounting’s app, LessTimeSpent. And other aspects just weren’t falling into place.
FreeAgent on the other hand has me digging in.
I will probably use FreeAgent for my own accounting needs for Architekwiki. That isn’t to say that I am comfortable recommending it to architects just yet, because my needs are different now.
The areas where FreeAgent doesn’t work great for architects are invoicing and hourly rates. Invoicing is actually better than most bookkeeping apps because there are several templates to select from and those are customizable with a little help from someone who knows HTML and CSS. You can even create your own template from scratch. The fly in the ointment is that the headings in your invoice table can’t be changed. They read QUANTITY, DETAILS, UNIT PRICE($), and SUBTOTAL($).
I’m not that picky when it comes to invoices, but I would probably ‘white out’ those headings and do without instead of using them.
The only two styles of invoice available are hours per task (Hourly) and ‘Services’, which would work reasonably well for fixed fee invoices with or without phases. And blessedly you can have both types on the same invoice, even more than one ‘project’ per invoice. This would work pretty well for additional services and similar situations that are always cropping up.
Of course, a couple of the other types of invoice can’t be addressed without serious compromise - percentage of construction cost, and guaranteed maximum, for instance.
Invoicing is a limitation in all but the most expensive systems for architects; and, even in the most expensive systems, customization is pretty limited.
The more troubling limitation is hourly rates. I think there is a need for a lot of hourly rate options.
I think there is enough to work with that you could create some work-arounds that would give you the results that you want. The problem is the time this would take to think through and the time it would take to implement on invoices.
It just might be worth it so that you have everything in one place.
This is early days in evaluating FreeAgent, but there are several things that look very promising.
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