Software developers who try to build products that do absolutely everything for the customer should take a look at Replicon, Inc., a Calgary-based company with software that takes the opposite approach; it does one thing, but does it well. Korky Koroluk
What Replicon provides is a software package called Web Timesheet, a simple-looking product that integrates timesheet functions and expense tracking with a whole host of accounting and project management software products.
This is important, because, despite the promise of extensible markup language (XML) and a bunch of other innovations, a lot of software doesn’t work well (or at all) with other products. That often means manually transferring data from your timesheets, for example, into the payroll module of your accounting software. That takes time and is prone to error.
Web Timesheet doesn’t do all your accounting. It doesn’t make coffee. It doesn’t put the cat out at night. All it does is timesheets, and it doesn’t require you to change your internal business processes.
Replicon was founded in 1995 by Raj Narayanaswamy and his wife, Lakshmi Raj, but the firm’s initial products failed, at least in part because they did require clients to change some of those internal processes. Then they began to hear business people complaining about problems with timesheets and expense management, and realized they had found a niche.
They launched the first version of Web Timesheet in 1998 and soon had their first sale. Now they have 750,000 users in 42 countries. Revenues have increased 3,400 per cent in five years, and no, that’s not a typographical error. Then just last week, Alberta Venture Magazine named the company to its list of Alberta’s fastest growing companies for the fourth year in a row.
“Most companies build complex solutions aimed at solving all accounting and project management problems, without success,” Raj told Alberta Venture. “Seventy-eight per cent of the time we win out over our competitors, and it’s mainly because we focus on making . . . (timesheets) simple and easy and quick.”
Part of that, of course, is integration with other programs, so Web Timesheet works with Great Plains, Peachtree, ACCPAC, QuickBooks, MS Project, ADP, Ceridian, and just about any other leading accounting, payroll and project-management software you can name.
One feature I particularly like is called an Offline Timesheet. A timesheet is sent by e-mail to a specified user who can fill it in and return it by e-mail. Then you are re-connect to the Internet, Web Timesheet immediately reflects the changes that were made offline. The whole process is protected by a system of passwords.
Since launching Web Timesheet, the company has also developed something called ProMax, which works with Web Timesheet to gather information about productivity and analyze it in a way that gives employees specific productivity targets to shoot for. My impression is that it might be of interest to manufacturers, or large firms in just about any field except construction, where measuring productivity can be an inexact exercise.
Don’t think of Web Timesheet as only being for large operators, though. True, Replicon does have big clients, including HP, AT&T, and Sony Music. But since it is fully scalable, they also have many medium and small companies on their client list.
The software is not difficult to use. The company suggests that it can be deployed and in full use in just two or three days.
Anyone interested can get a brief demonstration, during which a company rep will walk you through the software in under 30 minutes. You can download a copy and use it for two weeks before making a decision.
More information is available on the company’s Web site at replicon.wpengine.com
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