Software Should Be Social Because No One Works Alone

Nobody works alone.

We have about 30 years of consulting experience here at FreshBooks and we’ve never worked alone. About eight years ago I started out as an independent consultant. Back then I worked with my clients. Gradually I built up a network of freelancers who I contracted work out to. Sometimes they contracted work back to me. Very quickly these relationships became complicated. The money we owed one another was hard to track. The time spent on each others’ projects was not clear.

As the consultancy we built up moved from web design and internet strategy consulting into pure product development, we have kept a few of the relationships alive. Today I am busy running FreshBooks. Now more than ever I feel the pain of not knowing how much I owe a contractor or what amount of time has been applied to a specific project. That is about to change.

FreshBooks is going to redesign time management for these complex relationships – we are going to shift the paradigm of time tracking. How? We are going to facilitate time tracking amongst individuals by allowing them to plug into groups – seamlessly.

Let’s use an example. Let’s say a web designer, a developer and a copywriter – all independent practioners operating their own companies – work together at some point during the course of Project A and let’s assume each one has a FreshBooks account. In today’s FreshBooks environment the three parties would have to choose a FreshBooks account to use to track their time (let’s say they choose the web designer’s account because in this case she brought in the work).

Throughout the life of the project, each “freelancer” logs into the web designer’s FreshBooks account and enters their time. To do this, each one needs to remember a username and password and a URL. They then need to login to the web designers’ FreshBooks account and track their time. At the end of their project the developer and the copywriter will have to tally up their time spent on the project and invoice the web designer – from their OWN FreshBooks account. This is a problem. It’s wrong. Why can’t the developer and the copywriter just work from within their own FreshBooks account for the life of the project? That would be natural, no? YES. We’re going to make it happen and you are going to love it.

FreshBooks is about to introduce a new era for freelance and contract workers. In this new era each independent practitioner will have their own FreshBooks account and they will be able to SHARE timesheets with other FreshBooks account holders IF they choose to. What is the significance? Now each of these independents can stay within their own FreshBooks account and share a timesheet for the same project. Simple. Tidy. Afterall, they each have their own office from which they share the work load…it’s the same principle.

When you can collaborate on your relationships from within your own account, it really helps. Think about Project B – the one no one expected to come out of Project A. It’s a second project that involves only the copywriter and the developer (and not the web designer). Within the new FreshBooks paradigm, the copywriter and the developer can stay inside their own FreshBooks account and simply share a timesheet with one another, while seamlessly working on BOTH projects. Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

We at FreshBooks are going to help you run your business in a very natural, social way. That’s one of the reasons we design software. We believe it should help you work naturally. We believe that software should help you DEEPEN your relationships. You don’t need to log into 3 different accounts to work on 3 different projects so you shouldn’t have to.

You stay in your account. Simple. Hallelujah.

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  • Jerry King

    Nicely done! A genuine value-add in terms of simplifying collaboration between service professionals. FreshBooks is reflecting how people actually work…not asking real folks to change their natural behaviour to fit the confines of the software. Brilliant!

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  • Remo

    Sound like a fab idea.
    Is there a way you could integrate dates for deadlines of a task and project?
    That would actually be a neat feature for the support section as well.
    At times we have quite a few projects and support on the go and it is sometimes hard to keep track on what has priority over what. so if there is a possibility to sort by due date, that would help.
    Keep up the good work!
    Thanks for a great product.

  • Richard

    I love your site BUT I would like you to minimize that huge “A Look into the Future” banner because it’s too prominent on my homepage. I’m sure you can reduce it so my important content/business info can move up the page.

  • Fresh Mike


    Thanks for speaking out on that one. We have actually redesigned the “home page” in the ground mail release which is due out in about two weeks from now. In that release we have redesigned the home page to reduce the prominence of the FreshBooks news and increase the prominence of YOUR pertinent information….we think you are going to like what you see. If not, let us know!

    Thanks again for posting.

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  • http://http:.// software engineering

    Mike ! really nice …

  • floogy

    How is this one playing out? Looks good on paper, looks *very* good on this blog, but 17 months later and we’re still pondering whether it’s better to wait for FreshBooks or build this kind of interporability with your API.

  • Mike McDerment

    Hey Floggy – I’m pleased to report this is designed and half built. For uber secretive and ingenious reasons I won’t get into now, we have decided that we need to build expenses first. That’s coming early in the new year, this to follow shortly there after.

    On behalf of all of us here at FB I’d like to extend our thanks to everyone for being patient on this one…usually we come through pretty quickly when we say we are going to do something. This time that has not been the case, but it’s coming and it’s going to be sweet.

  • Donna Vitan

    Well… Expenses, schmenses. I would really like to see the collaboration feature soon. Please and thanks.

  • Mike McDerment

    believe it or not they are all tied together. we’re building them now.

  • floogy

    Ah, Collaborators :) Check this one off. Glad to see it off the ground 2 1/2 years on! How long did it take, comparatively, to get the original FreshBooks (Second Site) app built, from scratch to public launch? 😉 Just curious for comparison’s sake; you weren’t running a massively successful web business back then.

    Not that we need a flurry of features. What we need is more wall demolition like this, merging the functionality of multiple accounts into a single one. Which is exactly what must be suggested for the next 2 1/2 year development project: The ability to invoice clients in multiple currencies from within a single account.