I can’t say that I’m too surprised about this. Intuit is dropping BOTH the QuickBooks Time Tracker and QuickBooks Time & Billing programs, effective December 1 2011. Yet ANOTHER online service that Intuit has been offering that they are dropping (like QuickBooks Attached Documents). Dropping Time Tracker has been an idea that has been kicking around all year, but I was caught by surprise when they announced that they were dropping Time & Billing also. What happened? And what are your alternatives?
QuickBooks Time Tracker vs. QuickBooks Time & Billing
QuickBooks Time Tracker has been around since 2006 I believe. It allowed employees to add their time and billable hour information in an online database, and then this information could be posted to your desktop (Windows) version of QuickBooks.
Intuit QuickBooks Time & Billing was introduced in 2010, I believe, and was available through the Intuit App Center. This was again a subscription based online product, but it used the IPP interface and Sync Manager. Unfortunately, I don’t have detailed info on it because it has already been removed from the Intuit App Center listings.
From the very beginning it was clear that Intuit’s intention was to replace Time Tracker with Time & Billing. That made sense – they are trying to consolidate all of their online services into one platform, and the IPP (App Center) platform is what they want to support going forward. The problem has been that Intuit seems to be having problems in getting solid, robust, full featured apps developed in-house using this approach.
Phasing Out Time Tracker
From the very beginning Intuit stated that Intuit QuickBooks Time & Billing was meant to replace QuickBooks Time Tracker. I found some documents that said that this changeover would happen very early, possibly as early as late 2010. That didn’t happen.
In March 2011 Intuit told customers that Time Tracker would be discontinued as of the end of that month, to be replaced by Time & Billing. I’m guessing that there were a lot of complaints from customers at that time, so then the word came out that this would be put off for awhile AND that people would be given a couple of month’s advance warning.
At that time I took a look at the listing for Quickbooks Time & Billing – it was very interesting. The reviews for the product were uniformly terrible. I only saw one rating that was higher than one star – and that was from somebody in India. People just did not like Time & Billing. I didn’t save screen shots of this at that time – I wish I had.
In August 2011 I heard from a different source that Intuit was still accepting Time Tracker customers, but telling them that they would eventually have to move to Time & Billing. So, still planning on dropping one product to be replaced by the other, BUT the timeframe is being pushed further out.
NOW, in October, we see a Product Discontinuation Information bulletin that says that BOTH of the products are being discontinued! I’m including a screen shot here because Intuit has a tendency to post things, then remove them later on.
I don’t have any inside information on this latest decision, so all I can do is speculate. A year ago, Intuit was making a strong push to get into the online services market, AND developing a number of in-house projects. The platform of choice is IPP and the App Center. Now I’m starting to see a shifting focus, I think. It looks like Intuit may be deciding that they don’t want to be in the forefront of that particular kind of service? Consider this:
- Intuit is backing out of the Document Management business (cloud based), phasing out QuickBooks Attached Documents.
- Intuit is dropping BOTH the Time Tracker and Time & Billing services.
- The IPP interface that Intuit has been pushing developers to use is undergoing significant changes (I hope to write about that later this year), making significant changes to how Intuit provide services and how billing is managed. My first impressions on the changes is that it is for the better, but I’m still looking at this.
- Intuit continues to have a strong interest in Mobile applications, which is an entirely different subject (although related) to these kinds of online applications.
Interesting, and confusing!
What Alternatives Are Available?
If you need an online time tracking product, what is available? I’ll list some options here, but I want to emphasize that I have not performed a detailed analysis of any of them, so I can’t make recommendations. Most of the products listed here I found in Doug Sleeter’s article on QuickBooks Add-ons.
Many of these companies will be exhibiting at The Sleeter Group Accounting Solutions Conference in November, which would provide you with an excellent opportunity to see the products and to talk to the developers (I’m planning on spending a lot of time talking to the exhibitors there).
- Big Time (http://bigtime.net/): This was one of The Sleeter Group’s Awesome Add-on winners for 2009. They are exhibiting at the Conference this year.
- BillQuick (http://www.bqe.com/default.asp): This was one of The Sleeter Group’s Awesome Add-on winners for 2008. They are exhibiting at the Conference this year.
- Count Me In (http://www.countmeinllc.com/):
- SpringAhead (http://virtualsoftware.net/): This was one of The Sleeter Group’s Awesome Add-on winners for 2010. They are exhibiting at the Conference this year. Karen Siewert wrote a review article on this product earlier this year.
- eBillity (http://www.ebillity.com/): I don’t know anything about them OTHER than that they are listed in the Intuit App Center (and so must use the IPP interface), and that they are listed by Intuit in the announcement of the Time Tracker / Time & Billing discontinuation.