If learning a full-blown accounting package is more than you care to tackle, but you want an intuitive, streamlined way to handle customer billing, DotNetInvoice may be the answer. The self-hosted software package lets you create, send and track invoices electronically and also accept payments online via credit card or PayPal.
Unlike externally hosted software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings like FreshBooks (which we reviewed in March 2007), DotNetInvoice installs directly on your companys server, so your data never resides off-site. Before DotNetInvoice, there were no viable options for small businesses running Windows servers that wanted to invoice customers on the Web," said Rob Walling, creator of DotNetInvoice. Unless you were willing to spend $30,000 on a custom software package you were out of luck.
DotNetInvoice lets you create invoices and e-mail them to clients. Clients can then log in to a section on your Web site and pay the invoice via e-check, credit card or even PayPal. The programs automation features let you create recurring invoices that can be generated and sent on specific days each month. The administration interface features a dashboard view with a list of quick links to common tasks (create an invoice, find an invoice, post a payment and so on) as well as a list of past-due invoices so you can keep forgotten payments from snowballing into a cash crunch. You can also set DotNetInvoice to automatically send e-mail reminders to clients to advise of approaching payment deadlines or delinquencies.
Earlier this month, DotNetInvoice 2.5 debuted, delivering a number of enhancements. The system now allows you to accept partial payments from clients, rather than requiring they pay the full amount due. And DotNetInvoice now supports four credit card gateways out of the box: PayPal Website Payments Pro, Authorize.NET, PayFlow and BluePay. (If you are using a different payment gateway, the company will write the code to connect to it for $199 for a limited time.) You can attach an invoice as a PDF to an outgoing e-mail, rather than having the invoice appear only in the body of the message. The software also now works with the latest Microsoft platforms, including Windows Business Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008.
Walling reported that the program is suitable for businesses that create up to a few thousand invoices per month. He also noted that DotNetInvoices online nature sets it apart from traditional desktop accounting and billing programs. Everything is done on the Web, he said. The system is accessible from anywhere. That makes DotNetInvoice ideal for entrepreneurs who spend a lot of time on the road, or want to check on billing and cash-flow issues from their home PCs after hours.
DotNetInvoice costs $395, which includes one year of technical support and product upgrades. And unlike hosted services, this is a one-time purchase; there are no recurring monthly payments.
Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with nearly 14 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.
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