Posts tagged: SaaS

Our New Dashboard

There’s a great deal of admiration and a hint of jealousy when we look at Panic Software. They have a stunning office in Portland, a suite of brilliant Mac products such as Transmit and Coda, and manage to find the time to build a custom status board for their office.

Metrics are important for any business, but are so often presented badly or spread across multiple systems and processes - Panic have found a neat solution to this, but not all businesses have the time or skills to create custom apps like this. Now, thanks to Geckoboard, the solution may be within reach.

Currently in beta, Geckoboard is a web-based dashboard that hooks into an already impressive range of APIs. We’re heavy users of Zendesk, Basecamp & Highrise, use Google Analytics for our websites and converse with the world via Twitter. Geckoboard works with all of these tools, and have plans to add more in the future.

First impressions are great - setting up your accounts is easy, the data is displayed in an attractive and useful way, and the UI is slick. Given the fact that they’re only a few days into public testing we’re forgiving of the very few bugs we’ve found so far, and can see a lot of potential.

We’d like to see a few more detailed configuration options within the widgets, and the ability to add our own branding and colour scheme to the page, but no doubt this will come.

Paul Joyce from Geckoboard has very kindly provided exclusive invitation code for 20 readers of this blog - signup here with the invitation code ‘PEBBLEIT’ to get access to the beta right away. Enjoy!

Small Business Accounts with FreeAgent

Starting in business is never the easiest thing - there are so many more aspects to making it work than simply plying your trade… accounting and finance being one of them.

Being able to accurately and quickly see where the money is coming from and where it is going is essential. started life using Excel! This very quickly got out of control as the number of transactions increased and we started to learn about tax. So we moved on to MYOB - a very powerful, fully-fledged, accounting package (Macs & PCs). MYOB lasted for a couple of years until we became too frustrated with the average interface, sheer number of options that we did not understand and its non distributed nature (even though you can make it work in a distributed fashion, it is clunky).

By this time, there were a number of web-based, software-as-a-service accounting systems cropping up. In the end it came down to deciding between Freshbooks (a US-based company) and FreeAgent (a UK-based company).

Freshbooks was, and still is, a little further developed, but it did not specialise in UK tax and its feature set is enormous - almost too big again. It also does not look as nice!

FreeAgent on the other hand had all the features that we were looking for - it looks great and the questions that we had asked the support team came back with quick, friendly responses.

As an Apple Mac support and web development company that does a lot of invoicing and subsequent chasing every month, the features that we find particularly useful are:

  • Quick Views - snap shots of outstanding invoices, overdue bills, P&L, bank balances.
  • Recurring Invoicing - retainer client invoices automatically created on a frequency of your choice.
  • Permissions - give employees and your accountant varying levels of access.
  • Project Profitability - link money in and out to a specific project to assess profitability - a great feature.
  • Time Tracking - easily track time spent on projects by the hour, day or week.
  • Reminders - set up FreeAgent to automatically send out invoice reminders for overdue invoices - this makes life so much easier when invoicing a lot.
  • Payroll and Tax - calculations specifically tailored to UK companies.
  • Reconciliation - now so much easier as FreeAgent can recognise recurring bills and assign them to the right account automatically - we no longer need a bookkeeper which easily saves us hundreds of pounds a month.
  • Extras - there are other systems that integrate with FreeAgent, and we are sure that the number of apps doing this will continue to grow - check out their goodies page.

FreeAgent has revolutionised our ‘admin’ lives and is well worth investigating - it could help your business too.

Have a look at the tour and signup for their free 30 day trial. Thank you FreeAgent.

FreeAgent sign-up