Whilst rumblings of a potential takeover of Reckon appear regularly in the press, the embattled software provider continues to deliver enhancements to its cloud-based accounting product, Reckon One. Reckon has promoted flexible product pricing as the main benefit of its software over competing products but Reckon One has always had a strong job costing flavour not seen in similar accounting software products. So the delivery last month of the Time & Expense module in the browser version and the mobile app earlier this month added a boost to this core functionality. (Note – you must use the Medium version of the Projects module to access the full functionality.)
The Time & Expense module allows for the recording of employee time and expenses, either via the browser version or self service by employees using the mobile app.
Time can be recorded against a project (job) and item and can be recorded as billable to the customer. If the hours are marked as billable – next time a sales invoice is raised for the customer a message will pop up advising of unbilled time to ensure complete and timely customer invoicing. There is also an Uninvoiced Amounts report which will identify any hours marked as billable not not invoiced.
This is a good start but unfortunately there are several key elements missing:
- There is no report of hours entered by employees to quickly identify employees who may not have submitted hours worked or may have submitted incomplete hours.
- It is possible to enter hours as billable but not record the customer – these have to be corrected to enable customer billing to take place.
- The cost of the hours is not booked as a cost to the project although the income generated from the hours will appear against the project income. This can give a distorted view of the profit figure if there are significant employee labour hours on the project.
And of course – the rather large hole in all of this is the lack of a Payroll module which continues to stymie efforts to position Reckon One as a viable software option. I am hoping that when Payroll is delivered, it will be possible to cost employee labour hours to a project because not only will this plug the gap but will give Reckon One a significant advantage over its competitors as costing payroll costs to projects is not available in Xero or QBO.
The Time and Expense module also provides for the recording of employee expenses for reimbursement and project costing. An approval process is available to ensure only correct and authorised amounts are costed to projects and paid to employees. Similar to the hours worked – it is possible to record and expense as billable to a customer but not record the customer which means that the transaction won’t go anywhere until completed. Additionally there is no ability to link scanned receipts to the expenses which is a limitation compared to other software. But again – it is a start.
Overall the release of the Time & Expense module significantly raises the level of functionality in the Reckon One Projects module but I did find the lack of project reporting to be a significant limitation. Specifically:
- In the main project screen, Income, Expenses and Position is displayed however, the global reporting parameter of running reports on a Cash or Accrual basis is applied with no option to change in this screen. So if this is set to Cash in the global settings, then on this screen you will only see invoices paid by the customer or paid to the supplier, not outstanding transactions which may not be particularly valid.
- There are only two reports that address the Projects module – the Uninvoiced Amounts report mentioned above and the Profit and Loss report. One of the main reasons for running a projects module would be to track and analyse income and expenses across the life of the project so to only be able to run a P&L on a financial year basis is really not going to cut too much ice. Reports across financial years and displaying details really need to be made available.
Another area I found to be restrictive in Projects was budgeting. It is possible to record a project budget (also available in QuickBooks Online but not Xero) but it can only be done by financial year not life of the project and must be done by account not item. Reporting against budget with variances can be done in the standard P&L report but as noted the report is by financial year – how lucky to have a project that fits into a financial year! Again the functionality is better than nothing and on a par with QuickBooks Online but some enhancements would be welcome.
Reckon One alone of the web-based small business accounting software products can record additional non-financial data on a project including start and finish dates and status and assign customers to projects – so it has definitely opened up a niche for itself but a lot more fleshing out is needed to increase its robustness and application.