Taking a Monster Swing

By Patrick McNeely

In February, we bought Ballpark. We posted all about the process of buying it and shared our plans with you:

We want to improve and add features, make some user experience updates and see Ballpark grow. We’re going to pump this thing up so much that it’s going to have to be tested for steroids.

So, we got to work learning what you want Ballpark to be. We answered customer support requests, ran surveys and conducted interviews.

We made some really helpful updates, a few easy enhancements to make your job easier.

Things were good. But, where was this steroid-test-inducing-pump-up that we bragged about?

We needed an extra base hit.

Trouble Tracking

We’re a small team of 15 designers, developers and researchers, and we use Ballpark all day. Once it became our job to make Ballpark better, we had to admit something: time tracking ain’t that great.

One big issue is that it gets really confusing when multiple people are tracking time on a project. It’s even worse when you’ve got multiple projects going for the same client.

And, forget about tracking time budgets for a project – we usually had Ballpark running in one window and a Google Drive doc in another. Super lame.

We tried different flows, new internal practices, user rights, all kinds of things. But, the answer is much simpler than that.

Projects

Starting today, you can create a project and track time towards it. You can associate estimates with a project and send invoices for time on a project.

Thank goodness.

Now, when adding a timer, you can track it to a project instead of a client.

Create a Timer

If you want to see how busy you are, go look at your projects list. This can tell you a lot about the state of your business.

Projects List

The project detail page sheds a whole new light on your team and timers. Your project budgets, timers and invoices are all in one place, so it’s easy to track the project’s overall health.

project-detail

By giving you a new setting for Timers, not only is time tracking infinitely more useful, Ballpark feels bigger.

The Ball’s in Play

We think Projects can do much more. But, we want it in your hands now, so we’re giving you our first pass.

Certainly, we want timer imports, estimate integrations, monetary budgets, timer creation and editing from project pages, and a whole lot more. These things will happen with time.

Please, get in there and tell us what you think. We want your ideas. You can email us a note at support@getballpark.com, say something on Twitter or just drop a comment in the support window in-app (that little question mark in the bottom right of the app).

We can’t wait for you to use it. to try it out or if you’re new to Ballpark, try it free for 30 days.

Multi-Line Timer Imports

By Patrick McNeely

One of my favorite details in Ballpark is the “What are you working on?” field when creating a new timer.

What are you working on?

There’s something about asking this short, open-ended question before anything else. It welcomes clear, concise communication that’s helpful for remembering what you were working on or communicating that to the rest of your team.

I hear project managers and business owners like it too.

Show it to your clients.

When you import a timer into an invoice, the description for that line item is populated by what you entered into the “What are you working on?” field. Makes sense, right? What’s informative for you is informative for your client.

Imported timer becomes a line item

I worked on a bunch of things a bunch of times.

Ballpark also lets you select multiple timers and import them all at once. That’s been a helpful timesaver, but has combined them into one single line item.

Why kill off all of those useful descriptions and the record of working on something in several different sittings?

I found myself importing them one timer at a time just to keep each line separate.

You get to choose.

You now have a choice. Import multiple timers as a single line or as multiple lines.

Import multiple timers

You can use separators on the invoice itself to group similar tasks, but still keep the specifics visible for your clients.

Multiple line items with separators

Neat, right?

Default Rates Per Client

By Patrick McNeely

Your time is worth money, right? That’s why we help you track it and charge for it. It’s the foundation of a service-based business.

But, is its worth the same for every client? It’s likely you have a range of clients with different expectations and agreements that all come at different costs.

For the sake of argument, let’s say you charge most customers $100 an hour. But, you have a couple of clients who’ve been with you from the beginning whom you charge $75, and a couple of newer, bigger clients that you’ve managed to negotiate up to $125.

For a long time, Ballpark has allowed you to set a default rate for your entire company. Now, we’ve added a feature that lets you set rates on a per-client basis.

Here’s How It Works

It’s fairly straightforward. In addition to setting your company’s default rate, you can now go to a client’s or company’s page and set a default rate just for them.

When deciding what rate to put in your estimate or invoice, we look at your defaults in this order:

  1. Client Rate
  2. (Your Client’s) Company Rate
  3. Your Company Rate

Set Your Company’s Hourly Rate

This has been around for a long time, but it’s the baseline. So, if you haven’t set this up before, go do it now.

company-default-rate

Set a Client’s Company Rate

This is the first bit of new functionality. You’re going to set a new default rate for a client’s company as a whole.

  1. Go pick a client that you work with regularly that has a different hourly rate than your company’s default. Note: you’re choosing a company, not a client.
  2. Click Edit.
  3. Enter a new hourly rate for that company. Click Save Changes.

client-company-default-rate

Set a Client Contact’s Rate

This seems like a rarity, but you may need it, so we built it.

There could be different individuals at the same company who get different rates. If so, the process is very similar to that of editing a company’s rate.

  1. Choose an individual at a company who’s rate differs from their company’s.
  2. Click Edit.
  3. Notice how the client’s rate has defaulted to that of her parent company. If you want to change it, uncheck the box labelled, “Use company’s default hourly rate”.

ballpark-client-default

Now, enter the new rate for this individual client and click Save Changes.

ballpark-client-rate

And there you have it. Let us know what you think, and if you’ve got any ideas for how to make this even more useful.

When an Email Bounces

By Patrick McNeely

In the first week after taking the helm at Ballpark, we received a flurry of suggestions and feature requests. One of the first ones we got seemed so obvious and helpful (and thankfully easy to implement) that we went ahead and took care of it.

It turned out that if you sent out an estimate or invoice to a client whose email bounced, you’d never know it. Whether their address had changed, you’d entered it wrong or there was a fluky server error, your estimate or invoice would be marked as sent even though your client never received it.

It Can Make for Awkward Conversations

We know that figuring this out with a client can be a little uncomfortable.

“Hi Client, did you get that invoice I sent last week?”
“What invoice? I didn’t see anything.”
“The invoice for that ______ we did for you.”
“I dunno Man, I’m not really great with email.”
“Ok, no problem. I’ll resend it.”

[A week goes by.]

“Hey there, did you get that invoice? I resent it.”
“What invoice?”

And so on.

Now, We At Least Let You Know

While we can’t exactly fix your clients’ email addresses for you, Ballpark now notifies you that your email wasn’t delivered.

We do this two different ways:

The user who sends the email will get an email notification informing him of the issue and providing a link to edit the client’s email address.

bounced-email

The Dashboard Activity Feed will indicate that the estimate or invoice has failed to reach a recipient.

invoice-failed

That’s it. Nothing too fancy, but it should help you get paid faster (and maybe feel a little less awkward).

Introducing: Reusable Items

By Patrick McNeely

We mentioned a couple days ago that we were going to release a new feature. It’s ready, it’s live and it’s called Reusable Items.

Reusable Items

When we’re not working on Ballpark (and Pulse), we’re doing client work, just like you. We know that there are products and services you sell that always cost the same every time and have the same descriptions, like web hosting, landing page designs, t-shirts, packages, etc.

That’s where Reusable Items come in. Starting today, you can go to your preferences and create an inventory of Reusable Items with default prices and descriptions.

Boom.

Getting Our Feet Wet

By Patrick McNeely

It’s been a busy week for us at Ballpark. After announcing on Tuesday that Simple Focus bought Ballpark, we’ve received dozens of kind notes from you congratulating us and wishing us luck.

We’re so grateful. Thank you.

We’re Listening

Our primary focus this week has been listening to you. We’ve received a flood of ideas for how to make Ballpark better and we’ve stayed organized and added those to a queue that we’re already starting to prioritize. If you wrote us with a suggestion, we’ve got it and are evaluating it.

And We’re Doing

But just planning stuff is kind of boring. We decided to pick just a few things to work on this week to play with code and make our mark.

We’re still putting the finishing touches on a brand-new feature that we hope to push out in the next day or two, but here’s a couple things we’ve done already.

Header Magic

We couldn’t help ourselves and wanted to mess with some CSS right off the bat. There’s nothing ground-breaking here, we’re just de-bubblifying some buttons and cleaning up the interface a smidge. But it’s the header, so you see it everywhere.

header-reskin

Status Buttons Indicators

It was kind of bugging us that status indicators on the Dashboard, Estimates and Invoices pages looked a lot like buttons. We think there’s a smarter way to handle these later, but for now, we made some tweaks to make them look a lot less clickable.

action-icon-before
Before

 

action-icon-after
and after.

 

It’s nothing earth-shattering. But they’re examples of the types of small, iterative UI tweaks we plan to make along the way while we work out bigger, functional stuff.

Coming Up

Again, we’ve got a brand-new feature coming out in the next day or two. Then, we’ll get to work squashing some bugs (hold your applause). And we’re going to do a little work with emails, specifically addressing how you should be notified when Ballpark sends an email to one of your clients and it bounces back, because that’s a major headache.

Look for all of this over the next few days.

Stepping Up To The Plate

By JD Graffam

Hi, we’re Simple Focus, and we’re proud and excited to announce that, last week, we bought Ballpark from MetaLab.

First, a little bit about us: we’re a team of product and interface designers with offices in Memphis, Tenn. and Portland, Ore., and we both develop and manage our own products and provide consulting services to clients. Think MetaLab, but smaller.

You should know that this isn’t our first time doing this sort of thing.

In 2013, we purchased Pulse, a cash flow app for small businesses. Like Ballpark, Pulse is a an easy-to-use, highly useful app for small business owners just like us. It had an existing audience, but its owners wanted to sell because they weren’t able to give it the time and attention they felt like it deserved.

Since we acquired Pulse, we’ve put a lot of work into giving the app some much needed love. We’ve improved existing features, added a few new ones and have grown its user base. To be honest, the whole thing has gone way better than we expected it to, and we were open to the idea of doing it again if the right opportunity came up.

And then, there it was: Ballpark was for sale.

Although we didn’t see Andrew’s announcement right when he posted it, when we did see it, we were immediately fired up about the idea of buying Ballpark. We knew we were the right team to take it on.

Ballpark has a great reputation, and we have a lot of respect for the people who made it. But, we figured that because it was something we had actually heard a lot of buzz about, it was probably way out of our league.

But, it never hurts to ask. We started talking to Andrew about purchasing Ballpark on New Year’s Eve. We were both feeling each other out, but he was so incredibly transparent about Ballpark’s stats that we quickly felt comfortable. It seemed like a perfect fit. We drafted a long, giddy email detailing exactly how excited we were, then promptly deleted it in favor of one that just said “We’re interested.” Sometimes, you’ve got to play it cool.

Now that we’re Ballpark’s proud new owners, we can be honest: we’re really effin’ excited about this.

Before you get nervous about our plans, know that we bought Ballpark because we think it’s great. It’s beautiful, it’s easy to use and it does what it does very well. We just want to put some serious time and energy into making it even better. We want to improve and add features, make some user experience updates and see Ballpark grow. We’re going to pump this thing up so much that it’s going to have to be tested for steroids.

Our plans start with getting to know you, Ballpark’s existing users, and learning from you. If you’ve got any questions or feedback for us, or if you just want to say hi, email us at support@getballpark.com or tweet us @ballparkapp.

We can’t wait to get started.

Oh, and be sure to check out this post by Ballpark’s founder, Andrew Wilkinson.

 

Introducing: The Ballpark Referral Program

By Jessie Jones

Christmas may have been months ago, but we’re still in the giving spirit. Hot on the heels of our AppStorm giveaway, we just added a new way to save your friends money and get your Ballpark subscription for free.

How does it work? Simply give your friends your coupon code and if they subscribe, you’ll both receive a 10% discount for the next 12 months. If you sign up ten friends with your coupon code, you get Ballpark for free!

To get started, just login to Ballpark and click the “Referral Discounts” link in the main menu:

Announcing the AppStorm Ballpark Subscription Giveaway Winners!

By Jessie Jones

Congrats to Jordan, Conor, and Jussie, the winners of the  AppStorm Ballpark giveaway! These three AppStorm readers will receive a one-year Solo account in Ballpark with unlimited invoice and estimates. Thanks to everyone who participated!

New to Ballpark: Dropbox Chooser

By Jessie Jones

We are big fans of Dropbox at Ballpark and use it constantly to store and share files throughout the team. The best part about it is that we can access those files from anywhere at anytime—web, mobile, you name it—which makes it kind of essential for an app like Ballpark. So, in the spirit of the New Year (and a year of fewer facepalms), we introduce the Dropbox Chooser for Ballpark.

Now, when you click the “Attach files” button at the bottom of your quote template or in your Internal Comment and Client Discussion windows, you’ll have the option to choose files from your Dropbox account, as well as from your computer as always.

To test it out, click “Choose file from Dropbox” to open your Dropbox account in a new window. Once you’re here, you can browse your account and choose the file you want to attach to your invoice, estimate, or discussion. A link to a private page on Dropbox’s website is added as an attachment, so clients and teammates can click the link to view or download the file as usual.

Not only is the Dropbox chooser fast (no waiting for files to upload), it lets you attach anything and everything that you can fit in your Dropbox account and gives you more mobility than ever with Ballpark. Not a bad start to the year, huh?

Check it out now and let us know how we did!

Login to your Ballpark Account

You can log in to your Ballpark account at the domain you chose when you first signed up, or were invited to Ballpark.

.ballparkapp.com

Please contact us if you don't know your domain.