Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Solopreneur Job Tickets with Evernote

It's funny how two things that are great apart don't seem to have a connection until some spark of genius kicks in. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are a great example; peanut butter and chocolate, whoa! 

Yesterday I had a flash of genius when it comes to keeping notes on computer jobs; but this works for any service type job. It would have worked in the past; but not so well as it would today given the improvement in Evernote's mobile apps. This is not so much a technology solution as it is a work flow idea. 
First, I use Evernote to keep track of my notes and other day to day information.
Second, I use Zoho Invoice to keep track of my receivables. 

I used to work at a radio company where we kept track of hours worked and detailed what work we performed in a job ticketing system. So, before we got dispatched, we created a job ticket. We kept paper notes with that ticket number and entered the information into the system for invoicing. The rule was, you don't work unless you have a ticket number. 

Here is where it comes together; it would not take much to do something similar with Evernote and your invoicing service. As a job comes in, you would create a draft invoice for the client. This gives you a job number. Then, you create a note in Evernote with that job number and client name. Record all notes relating to that job. So long as you maintain a consistent naming and tagging convention, tracking your work should be pretty easy. 

The clear advantage of doing all of this is that your work notes are not limited to just text. You can add photos, documents, voice notes, and other files as needed. 
You could have open ticket and closed ticket notebooks in Evernote to keep track of work that is still in progress and work that has been completed. You can tag tickets with some form of client identification. 

This works much better than my current system in that I have been organizing notes by project name or client name, which is rather messy, requiring several notebooks in Evernote. Using a ticketing system, I only need the two notebooks. 
If you do end up with two or more notes with the same ticket number, Evernote allows you to merge them into one. 

If you are working on a big project that has several payments, you can invoice by phase, giving each phase a ticket number.

If you have accounts where you invoice monthly on all your services, you can open up a ticket every month and keep adding notes as you work. 

Where this breaks down, somewhat, is when you have multiple employees. At that point, you have a couple options. Share one Evernote login amongst them so that they can all enter notes into the same, centralized system. Or, have them maintain their own Evernote tickets in their own accounts and then export/import to a central Evernote account for invoicing. 

At the end of it all, if you like, you can even add a picture of the check that pays for the work performed. 

Can't wait to put this into practice. 

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