What is the perfect invoicing, proposals and time-tracking app for my web design business? Does one even exist?
Since the latter half of 2017, I’ve noticed a lot less software updates and feature improvements from the Pancakeapp team. This led me to start investigating alternative apps. It’s been 2 weeks since I started this unintended quest to find the perfect app for my web design business needs.
I’ve written about Pancakeapp before on this blog. I’ve been using it for several years and for the most part I love it. Pancakeapp is self-hosted on my own web server with no recurring fees for updates and support. This I suspect, is the reason why it hasn’t been updated because it’s not a sustainable business model.
Pancakeapp lets me do the following:
- Add a new client
- Create a quick estimate and email that estimate to the client.
- For more detailed pitch, I can create a proposal, save and reuse editable sections/modules, embed/attach an estimate and email that to a client. Customise the email before sending.
- Client receives an email with a link to view the proposal or estimate. If accepted, I receive a notification. I can convert the estimate into a invoice with one click.
- Within the invoice I can setup a payment schedule. e.g. 50% due on date, 30% due on date, 20% due on date.
- Create recurring invoices that auto-send with a cron job.
- Auto-reminders on overdue invoices.
- Create a projecs, create tasks within a project, track time spent on each task.
- Use a built-in timer app.
- Generate an invoice from a timesheet.
- Add different payment gateways, including Payfast (A South African Payment Gateway).
- Record a payment manually e.g. bank transfer or EFT.
- Log and manage support tickets
- Track expenses
- Client portal where the client can view estimates, invoices, timesheets.
- Create logins for employees/contractors.
- Assign tasks to employees/contractors.
- Generate basic reports.
- Bill clients in their own currency (multi-currency support).
- Create reusable invoice items
I’ve signed up for 30 odd free trials, testing each app to see if it will fit my needs. I’m getting a bit despondent as I haven’t found the perfect alternative app for me yet. I’ve browsed forums and Facebook groups, comment sections of other reviews and articles.
What is the perfect app, what is Pancakeapp missing or could do better?
- Better reporting.
- There are bugs that need fixing.
- Being able to generate a statement for a client.
- Desktop app for the timer.
- Better customisation for the Proposal templates. Find that when I delete a saved section/module it doesn’t always delete. The saved sections are messy.
- Recurring invoices are being generated long in advance and not reflecting accurately in the reports/snapshot Outstanding Invoices view.
- Better sort and filter for invoices and estimates.
Wonder if Pancakeapp were taken over by a different company and refined possibly with a hosted version and subscription model, it may be more sustainable – it could be one of the top business apps out there for the small business creative owners, solopreneurs and freelancers.
Below is a list of the apps I’ve been testing. Each of these apps has something great about it, but lacks in some area in terms of integration, support, interface and usability.