Outsourcing projects to freelancers comes naturally to small service-oriented businesses. But juggling multiple time sheets from different contractors and managing projects from a variety of freelancers can be a hassle. Collaboration between freelancers and small businesses is key in order to managing projects efficiently.
FreshBooks, a Toronto-based invoice startup, is adding a new networking feature to its software that allows freelancers and small businesses to work with each other directly within the program and share this information freely. Through the “Contractor” feature, FreshBooks users can create and share client projects across FreshBook accounts, with multiple users able to access different accounts. Formerly, FreshBooks users couldn’t collaborate on projects across the Internet.
Of course, there are privacy issues to managing a project online. Businesses may not want to show a contractor the markup rate they are charging for services to a client. FreshBooks maintains that you can share certain information (like invoices, time sheets, billing) but also keep privileged client information private on the network.
The Contractor feature also facilitates real-time project tracking, giving businesses visibility into a contractor’s progress on a project. FreshBooks, which we reviewed here, lets you create invoices, time sheets and estimates within the browser. FreshBooks has free and paid plans and has served 700,000 users since its launch in 2004. The startup has steadily added useful features to its billing service over the past few years, including benchmark reports on aggregated business data, an open API, and data mining from users. Competitors in the online billing space include BillMyClients and Blinksale.