Review: Book Keeper for BlackBerry Smartphones

By Ryan Blundell on 15 Apr 2010 03:38 pm EDT
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A few months ago, we looked at a BlackBerry application called ReportAway, which was geared towards giving FreshBooks users mobile access. If you aren’t familiar with FreshBooks, they are essentially, as they put it, “The Leader of online Billing and Bookkeeping”. As I said before, they reduce the hassle of managing manual invoices, time tracking forms and other paper-based paperwork by allowing your team to report online. They can then focus on assisting their clients, as well as potentially being able to see more clients in a day. No more “missing” paperwork, no more disorganized files, no more guessing games. So whether you are a contractor, managing an outside sales team or part of a field service organization, having rapid access to online reporting would be ideal. If you take a look at the ReportAway review, I did briefly mention that FreshBooks was working on their very own Beta application. I originally contacted them to see how familiar they were with ReportAway and its functionality, when they told me of the beta app and where I could find it. Although at the time they said it was awaiting App World approval, I have yet to see it there. I couldn’t wait any longer and decided to try out their Book Keeper application.

About Book Keeper

The Book Keeper application was actually developed for FreshBooks by Keone Software, who also developed MiniChimp (for the email marketing and email list manager MailChimp.) According to the applications website, Book Keeper is compatible with all BlackBerry models running OS 4.2.1 or higher. The most recent version of Book Keeper is version 10.071, with a file size of 229.1 KB. In order to use both Book Keeper and FreshBooks, you will need to sign up for a FreshBooks account. If you manage 3 or less customers, you can use their free service (dubbed Moped). They do have monthly subscriptions available, as well, starting from their $19/month (Shuttle Bus) service, to their $149/month (Time Machine) service. I suggest taking the “Moped” out for a spin to determine if you or your company would benefit from FreshBooks.

After using both previously mentioned FreshBooks applications, I prefer the UI of Book Keeper, as I found I could switch options without too much back and forth navigation. It was nearly effortless to scroll where I wanted to go. Book Keepers menu layout consists of 5 options lining the upper portion of the screen, with the option management appearing below.

Time

Try to imagine the offspring of a time tracking sheet and a stop watch. Wait, that’s kind of weird, forget I said that. Capturing time dedicated to a specific project is as simple as pressing start. It’s much easier than trying to record the time you spent on various projects at the end of the day, though the application does allow for that as well. Don’t forget to select the project associated tasks that you are about to work on first, or else you’re reporting (and billing) will be off. Once finished recording, you can then upload your information. Book Keeper does have the ability to edit the date as well.


tracking time

manually tracking time

Pending

This screen will list all of the Projects that are open. It is here where you can view, edit or delete them before uploading.

Clients

This option permits you to view information, regarding your clients, at a glance. By selecting a client from your list, you can view information about them that you have plugged into Fresh Books. This includes; address, point of contact (and their contact information), invoices and any credits they may have on their account. You can also email or call clients directly from Book Keeper, by clicking/pressing on their number or email address. There is one feature that I couldn’t get to work with Book Keeper; the Map Client option. After selecting Map Client, the option is unresponsive.


client information

Invoices

From here, outstanding invoices for multiple clients can be viewed. It’s easily determined from this screen what the remaining balance is. At the top, you can see the client/company name and by clicking on it, you are redirected to the Clients option. Payments can be recorded from the application - giving the ability to select amounts and payment type (cash, check, Visa, etc). Additionally, Book Keeper lets you send off invoices via email or snail mail.


managing invoices

take a payment

Settings

In the settings menu, you can manage multiple accounts. Yes, Book Keeper is able to handle various FreshBooks accounts, should you use it for more than one of your companies. Only one account can be active at a time. Adding new accounts is as easy as entering in your FreshBooks URL and API token. You can also set currency and the number of invoices to download.


set up account

Any action or change you perform isn’t automatically reflected on your FreshBooks account. You do have to manually choose to Re-Synch Data. So if you’re in an area with no coverage, you can hold on to the information to re-synch later. Please note that Book Keeper does not allow you to add, edit or remove clients or invoices from your BlackBerry - you have to log in to your account.

Conclusion

As a Beta, Book Keeper is fairly impressive so far. It helps manage invoices and projects quite well, while on the go. As I mentioned before, I would like to see more options when dealing with said invoices, as well as Client information. The previously reviewed ReportAway for FreshBooks does include an option to create and edit invoices, as well as give you the ability to manage expenses. The Map Client option is definitely a teaser and I would like to see it in action, but I guess I’m out of luck. Hopefully we will see more FreshBooks options in the future. Book Keeper is available for free. For more information on FreshBooks, check out their website.

Pros

  • Record Project Times
  • Manage Invoice Payments

Cons

  • 'Map Client' option doesn't work

More Info

Reader comments

Review: Book Keeper for BlackBerry Smartphones

4 Comments

I actually contacted FreshBooks about an app to use with their service and this is the one they recommended to me. I definitely have put it to good use, especially with time tracking.

Hey Ryan,

Sunir from FreshBooks here. I'm the head of integrations. First thanks for the write up! Both of these apps have done some impressive work over the past year.

I just want to clear something up. FreshBooks is not working on a BlackBerry app ourselves. We have supported a few third party developers, including both ReportAway! and BookKeeper, to build BlackBerry applications for the FreshBooks community. At various points in time, we help find beta customers for any application depending on who needs them most. That doesn't indicate a preference. It's part of being a good platform for third party developers.

Until we officially announce an application on our add-ons directory, we do not generally have much to say about it. However, I wanted to clear this point up in case people got the wrong impression about our relationship with any developer.

Cheers,
Sunir Shah, Chief Handshaker, FreshBooks