What software are freelancers and small design studios using to manage their business. Estimates, expenses, time tracking, etc?
As a freelancer, I used to swear by Harvest for invoicing.
Check it out: https://www.getharvest.com/
There might be better tools for that, it's been a few years, but I really loved it.
Our own software that integrated invoicing, time tracking, crm and a presentation add-on. Used with Basecamp, it's just the best.
Why develop our own? We though it was foolish to leave client management (CRM), invoicing and time tracking separated. It makes more sense when everything's integrated.
My studio flow and apps.
Initial Discovery - Google Hangouts.
Proposal - I create a "brochure like" proposal (have my own template) I customize in iBook Author, which is tailored for the customer and opportunity.
Proposal Delivery - Dropbox with a file directory set up as if we are already working together, where they can download a .PDF of the proposal. I set up a Slack team room for the prospect to discuss the proposal. I have not had any resistance with this set up. This way we have the systems and apps in place to hit the ground running.
Contracts - Send a contract via Docracy.
Invoicing - Ronin (just a legacy app I've been using) and Stripe/ Wire for payment processing. We're fixed fee for the most part.
Project Management - Slack, Dropbox, Trello and Git. The integrations in Slack for these apps makes our job a lot easier.
That sounds interesting. Could you share one of your proposals or tell something about that?
I'd love to see one as well. I use a Pages template for our proposals for easy creation, but neve considered iBooks.
Yeah Michael, I used to use Pages as well.
The newer UI and work flow caused me a lot of frustration.
So, I switched.
Simon, in my experience, if you have had a proper discovery conversation with a prospect and have a firm grasp on the scope, they want to know the following:
- Do you get the business case and understand the users for which you are designing? 1.1. Do you get the big mission and how your work will create economic value or perhaps a more defensible business position?
- think of this as more of a potent statement and accompanying image that gets the point across.
To satisfy this - I open the proposal cover page with a big image and headline statement that succinctly tries to capture that vision and mission. Followed by a second page with more of description of that mission, followed by a third splash page, which wraps that up with an image and statement before diving deeper into the proposal.
- Your process.
While my process follows a flavor of the UCD framework many of us are accustomed to, I'm not a fan of boilerplate processes.
In my opinion, your process has to be adapted and refined for the business case, and business and user goals for which you are designing.
While there are certain design truths in process, which cover the basics, some verticals (banking versus say consumer) require process adaption and refinement. Best to plan for it.
Great design starts with a great process and plan to drive at understanding and refinement. :)
- What are they getting?
Just like it sounds.
How I work?
I prefer pricing my services so that I don't have to nickel and dime customers on revisions. It's better to work from a baseline of trust and case based design (no ego-centric I think and feels, which are disconnected from the users) - thus, it's better, imo - to not charge for revisions.
- Why work with me?
Again, pretty much like it sounds...
Aside from that - I try and design a proposal that can meet the needs of various stakeholders. From the high-level CEO's who will skim your proposal for the big picture, timeline and cost - to their underlings who will dive deep into your proposal.
There's obviously more meat than that, but those are the basics.
Finally, don't forget this may be your first and only chance to showcase your thinking and prowess as a designer.
Why waste it?
Hope that helps.
We us Todoist for team and project management as well as client communication.
Toggl for time tracking which talks to Todoist
For invoicing we use a free software Colibri as the Portuguese tax law requires some complex certifications etc.
File sharing works within Todoist, for huge files we have a FTP server.
I'm a freelancer and I use:
mite for time tracking (with a menubar extension called DynaMite)
Grand Total 3 for proposals and invoicing
Email/skype for communication, keepin' it old school
Project Management: Working mostly with people from the same business so I use whatever tool they're using
Anyone who uses slack: does it make sense to use it as a freelancer?
Trello: for general project/business management stuff.
Harvest: for invoicing.
(In the dim and distant past we also used Harvest for time sheets, but we don't really charge stuff by the hour any more so that's redundant.)
Google docs: for our internal documents
(we have a copy of Office 365, but it's really only used to deal with documents coming in from outside the company).
Dropbox / Google Drive: File sharing
OS X Screen Sharing: for screen sharing
(used to use ScreenHero, which is very nice, but we don't really use it enough for it to be worth the low-end pricing tier)
Google Calendar: for shared calendars
(although we mostly use it via the OS X Calendar app)
PayPal: for some client payments, USA folk mostly
1password: Password management
pinboard.in: Link sharing
Harvest for timekeeping
Xero for invoicing
Trello for projects
Droplr for sharing links, images, videos
Appear.in for meetings
Thanks for sharing appear.in. That's new to me and I'm fucking sick of having to deal with Google Hangouts.