Monday, September 21, 2009

Billing for your time

Does anybody else hate doing timesheets?  Before I started in the IT field, my life was that of a bookkeeper.  I lasted all of 2 years before the monotony got to me and thought that I had better get into something else before someone had to talk me off of a ledge somewhere.  Keeping records was never something that held my attention for very long.

The trouble is, without some kind of record keeping, nobody will pay you to do what you do.  Somebody, somewhere is going to ask where their investment dollars are being spent, and when they do, you had better have some documentation to back up your story.

I came across this little web application recently and so far, I’m pretty impressed with it.  I had an idea that I would build something, but being busy (catching up on my timesheets for one) I decided to see if there was something available at a reasonable price.  Free is always an eye-catcher for me.

SlimTimer is a little REST application that you can sign up for a free account which allows you to create and share tasks and then use a lightweight client to use as a stopwatch while you work at your desktop.  This is perfect for a developer that does most of their billable time on a computer, not so much for a field engineer who travels around all day long.  That said, I’m already feeling more billable every minute.


Having a web browser open all day long sounds good, but in practice, being a developer, the crashing browser is part of my day.  Not really an issue though for SlimTimer if you use Bubbles which is a free little web platform that allows you to run simple we applications from your system tray in Windows.  Using bubbles allows you to open the client with a single click without running your browser…neat.

Lastly, the reporting capability is very flexible and allows you to query your tasks by date, tag, user (if you are sharing tasks) and task.  You can print timesheet reports or invoices right from the application.

As I mentioned, the basic account is free, however, you can name your price and pay for premium services such as weekly backups and exporting.

If you are a developer, the service has a documented API that will allow you to interact with the service from your own applications.

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