Introducing Software as a Network (SaaN)

“We are building an invoicing network. What network are you building?”

Today is a big news day at FreshBooks. We’re sharing a new way to design software which we’re dubbing Software as a Network (SaaN) to underscore the difference between the new approach to SaaS design, and the old.

What’s different? Now, all the accounts in FreshBooks can connect with each other. If you work with other contractors, you can receive and organize their invoices in your FreshBooks account. You can also share projects from your account to theirs to keep track of your contractors’ time. Watch the video below to see how it works.

Still not sure what we’re talking about? That’s okay. For now I’m going to let TechCrunch and Mashable explain it, and direct you to where we add some more colour.

FreshBooks adds powerful features to manage your contractors.

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  • Eric

    We are building a recruiting (hr) network.

  • Kalena

    This is exciting stuff guys. Great to see you developing your service on the bleeding edge to meet the requirements of online businesses and introduce features we need, just as we need them. Congrats :-)

  • JohnONolan

    Nice – I wish BaseCamp would implement this

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  • Mat

    We are building a collaborative review and feedback network for graphic and web designers.

  • Brian Jones

    How does SaaN related to connection to other applications and services on the web? Oh wait, that’s called web services.

    So SaaN is kind of implying that web services and web applications, even though they can connect to other services of different types, are unable to connect to homogeneous services of they same type.


  • Darren Shrager

    Basecamp-Smasecamp! I wish Freshbooks would add some simple functionality to REPLACE basecamp — FB knows how to run a GREAT business, and I’ve had it with 37S!

  • Elena Gretch, CPDT

    I am building a network of happy pets and their owners…Woofs! Elena

  • Mike McDerment

    @Darren – the guys at 37signals are masters of simple functionality. They do our thing, we do ours.

  • Alec

    Hey guys,

    This is a great idea.

    Keep up the great work!

    Now if only Daniel could get the ear of the Support module developers and add response by email there and eventually hard URLs direct to the ticket, we’d be ecstatic.

    We’ve had to take support back into Basecamp as our clients didn’t like the Freshbooks system well enough and we were losing business (attrition of new orders due to dislike of support system).

    When we moved the clients who were sulking in Freshbooks support tickets into Basecamp, they perked right back up again.

    Just need to add email to create and respond to support tickets. Don’t integrate with ZenDesk as the costs of ZenDesk are prohibitive for a company with a lot of people doing support (like us) and we want all our Freshbooks staff to be able to help customers and don’t want duplicate entry (triplicate really as everybody is already in Basecamp and Freshbooks).

  • Daniel Tsang

    Hi Alec,

    I hope you are doing well. The good news is that the URLs in the application have been shortened since the last release which should assist us with fitting links in the text emails. I’m still fighting for some of your other suggestions.

    With regards to adding an email to create and respond to support tickets, we don’t have any short term plans for that, but I will be happy, as always, to pass your suggestion on to our development team for considerations. Thanks for commenting on this post Alec.


  • Ren

    Very interesting.

    I am very impressed with the Freshbook Application. Over the few months of using it, it’s simplified my project management and hours logged, so everything is clean, clear and understood by my clients.

    Excellent work folks.

  • Andi

    This is really great, that we can now build up a client and a contracter network inside freshbook. Unfortunately our contractors bill us in many different currencies, depending on where they live. Romania, Germany, US, Canada, Thailand, China, India, Australia, Peru. This is causing a real headache as we bill our customers in 6 currencies (most of them even only in the 3 major ones) USD, EURO, THB. Unfortunately there is no way to get now the billing from our Indian (USD) and Romaian (EURO) and our local Thai contractors (THB) summed up to one simple outgoing Invoice which we bill to our client! Please do multi currency support, as it is a pain in the ass to change over and over the global currency symbols and than all sums look awful and all statistics are simply totally useless.


    $100 + 100EURO + 50,000THB
    = 58,000.00 THB or $1,658.00 or 1,289.00 EURO

    When you now have 3 customer which need this product – one in US, one in Germany and one in Thailand and you need to present the accounting to subdevisions and Tax Offices in these countries too you get crazy! – our own accounting is in $ – so

    58,000.00 + 1,658.00 + 1,289.00 = 60947 in Freshbooks
    in other words depending on the global currency settings this is
    $ 60,947.00 = 60,947.00 EUR = 60,947.00 THB in Freshbooks!

    This is the WORST accounting we ever had! and as good as Freshbook is for billing – it is ONLY usable for the billing but totally unusable for accounting at all!

    The result we would need is that we can insert an EXCHANGE rate PER Project!!! as exchange rates are changing over and over. Than the Exchange rate multiplies with our Accounting BASE Currency.


    $1 = 35 THB
    1 EUR = 45 THB
    1THB = 1THB

    our result would now look like

    50,000.00 THB + 1,658.00 USD * 35 + 1,289.00 EUR =
    50,000.00 THB + 58,080.30 THB + 58,005.00 THB =
    16,6085.30 THB

    To implement such a feature is really not difficult as you only would need to add some currency converter fields into your invoicing features.

    Make a new (Currency setting page PER INVOICE!! as exchange-rates are changing)
    Here the Freshbook owner can define what I just wrote above.
    They need to define a GLOBAL currency
    They need to define Exchange currencies (incoming) with their RATES (matching with the global one)
    They need to define Exchange currencies (outgoing) with their RATES (matching with the global one)

    Now when a contractor sends you a bill in $ (i.e. Contractor Currency) but you account in THB (GLOBAL Currency) all rates get converted directly with the current project and invoicing periode based exchange rates.

    To make it easier for Freshbook users integrate a exchange rate converter in an exchangerate view, but also in a (monthly) overlook (graphic) Now the Freshbook owner can decide how he will calculate his rate.

    To make it even more Freshbook User friendly define also a GLOBAL Exchangerate setting and a simple buttom on each INVOICE which enables the Freshbook user to REUSE the Global or also to REUSE the Settings from the previous Invoice.

    ALL statistics would show up in our GLOBAL Currency
    ALL sums would be added in our GLOBAL Currency
    ALL billing/invoicing would be a full feature and fully usable Accounting replacement!
    BEST OF ALL – Freshbook would be able to talk to TAX Departments in different countries to enable Freshbooks as direct Applications to send your whole TAX stuff with one click i.e. to the Thai Revenue Department in THB or for another company to the German Finanzamt in EUR.

    This would save a lot of paper, reduce lots of errors filling in same data many times in many different tables only to get your tax stuff done. It would promote and support paper and travelles GREEN Development and much more.

    Freshbooks would be the killer application on THE ONLINE accounting, billing, invoicing market – people would simply forget about all other programs!

    If you would need help to implement this we would be happy to assist you and we will afterwards be able to bill you even in CDN Dollars :-) – Keep your heads up as you did a great Job already which only laks a very essential feature! Get in contact with us! You would support Green Development in ICT Innovation Paradise Phuket with a very affordable rate or even longterm partnership!

  • Jeff

    Great Stuff.

    Would REALLY like the see packing slips available for print, and the integration of quickbooks / simply account.

    Thank you.

  • Rebecca Strickland

    You guy’s are outstanding, we love your service!

    Best regards,
    Rebecca Strickland
    Business Services

  • Rebecca Strickland

    You guy’s are outstanding, we love your service!

    Best regards,
    Rebecca Strickland
    Business Services

  • Ben Harper

    I agree with the guy who wrote this:

    “Basecamp-Smasecamp! I wish Freshbooks would add some simple functionality to REPLACE basecamp — FB knows how to run a GREAT business, and I’ve had it with 37S!”

    I’ve been waiting for a few years now for FreshBooks to add a few simple features (like htm; links in support tickets) to the support ticketing module.

    FreshBooks, you are so close to comlete awesomeness, why can’t you just go a bit further?

    I almost get the feeling you are afraid to step on 37S toes.

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