MinuteDockServices businesses life blood is their ability to track time. As such it could be argued that any accounting application that is focused on the services market should have time tracking built in as a core feature. Having used SaaS accounting application Xero for years and growing tired of copying and pasting hours from time tracking app Harvest into Xero, Nik Wakelin and James Nisbet decided there had to be a better way.

They decided to build a time tracker that was so closely integrated with Xero that to users it would feel like it was a built in part of the application. Their aim was to be able to track time without spending all their time in pointless admin – setting up “tasks” and “projects”. This is one of those applications that, for a small subset of users, can save a large amount of annoyance and time.

They’ve combined deep Xero integration with Twitter-like shortcodes in order to make it quick and easy to use.

Contacts automagically read from within Xero get a “short code”, and users can assign time to them using that, specify the hours (or use an inline javascript timer), and even the time on which they want it to be logged. Once users have sent a few shortcodes to minute dock (@cloudave blogging 30mins for example) they can then go in and merge, delete, group or edit the entries before pushing them out to Xero to be invoiced. The coding and assigning functions happen at the invoicing end when, as Nik points out, the lure of the dollars provide more of an incentive.

The steps to tracking and invoicing then are very simple;

  1. Log time using twitter style logging
  2. Select entries, group, merge, edit, split
  3. Click “send” and a new draft invoice appears in Xero ready to approve and email

MinuteDock is priced at $9 per month or $99 per year which, while a reasonably high price for such a niche application, is probably justifiable given the deep integration to Xero that they provide.

MinuteDock advise that the roadmap sees a Twitter bot and mobile application in the near future. I’ve had a play with MinuteDock and it does all it promises. For service businesses that have no real need for a full project management application to run their time tracking, MinuteDock eases the pain point and, while reasonably steeply priced, provides sufficient value to the niche players who need it to justify that price.

Of course one could question why Xero hasn’t already built such an obvious solution themselves, it’ll be interesting to watch the uptake MinuteDock sees and Xero’s reaction – in a desire to increase ARPU, point solutions like this one are attractive, MinuteDock’s creators will hope that Xero sees it as too much of a niche for their tastes.

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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