Essential Software: TranslationOffice 3000

Many moons ago, when we started our small business (specifically, the European side of our business), we made many beginners' mistakes, including managing to invoice incorrect amounts to incorrect companies. We chronicled this mortifying experience here, and shortly thereafter, we decided that it was time for an invoicing and accounting system. Our IT guru set out to find one, and we loved it from the very beginning: TranslationOffice 3000, mainly known as TO3000. We have been recommending this nifty software at all our seminars and workshops around the world for years without having any financial connection to the company (other than the fact that we gave them money for the software). However, in the spirit of full disclosure, we want to let you know that earlier this year, AIT, the company that makes TO3000, decided to take out an ad on this blog. However, this does not prevent us from giving this software an honest review. The short version: we love it.
Screenshot of main screen. Courtesy of TO3000. 

First things first: What is it?
TO3000 is a translation management software that allows users to track every project, every invoice, every client and every payment. It's relatively simple to use, and readers of Translation Times get a 25% discount (version 10 is currently EUR 183).
The software allows you to create very pretty template-based quotes and invoices for clients, which has forever eliminated embarrassing invoicing errors for us. We also have a solid database of customers, phone numbers, addresses and contact persons inside the software. You can created many different billing categories, including hourly interpreting services, per-word translation rates, discounts for repeat customers, etc. One of our favorite features, which was missing from many of the other software packages that we looked at, is that you can invoice in many different currencies.

Our favorite features
There are many fantastic features of TO3000, and it's a bit hard to narrow them down. However, we've tried to come up with our 10 favorite features in no particular order.

Overview of invoices. Courtesy of TO3000.
  1. With one click of a button, you will know how much money you have outstanding for the month. You just go to Invoices to clients --> calculate totals. The system will clearly indicate which invoices are outstanding. 
  2. Creating professional-looking quotes is a breeze. They are based on templates that you will help create -- this is a bit tricky, you not too terribly difficult to figure out. 
  3. There is a built-in word counter that's integrated into the quote tool, which is fantastic. You upload the document and the system counts the words and automatically tells you how much the project will cost. Brilliant.
  4. We really enjoy knowing who our biggest customers are. This comes in handy around the holidays, when we decide who should get the larger presents! You can easily view how much you've earned from each customer.
  5. The project tracking tool (called Schedule of Projects) is wonderful. Once you enter the quote and get the project, you enter the deadline for the project and the system will tell you exactly what's due when. 
  6. Invoicing is, without a doubt, our favorite administrative job. There's something very satisfying about writing an invoice, and with TO3000, it will only take a few minutes. We then convert them to PDF and off to the customer they go (via postal service in Europe, via e-mail in the U.S.)
  7. The company's customer support is top-notch. We've only had a few questions through the years, and every time, the friendly folks at this Ukrainian company have answered our questions quite quickly. It's pretty nice to actually have a relationship with the people who make the software.
  8. Entering payments from clients and closing out the project is fast and easy. The system will keep track of the average time it's taken for a client to pay, so the next time you issue a quote to that particular client, it's handy to know that they took longer to pay than you would have liked. This might be a good time to ask for a deposit.
  9. TO3000 is a database, so you don't have to worry about hitting "save" for things to get saved. 
  10. You can try the software for free for 30 days, but by the end of it, we bet you will be hooked.
Adding a job to an invoice. Courtesy of TO3000.
The software is made by AIT (Advanced International Translations), which makes a variety of other cool software tools as well. Stay tuned for our review of Projetex. 

Any bad news?
Well, not really. Initially, the navigation (those menu items that one uses to click on things) wasn't as intuitive as it could be, but it has both improved a bit with new versions and we've also gotten used to it. Some navigational items aren't very elegant, such as going from creating a project to creating a project-related job, but those are relatively minor details. AIT is very good about bug fixes and new versions, which we've always installed without problems. By the way: we are not translation software gurus (that would be our friend and colleague Jost Zetzsche). Rather, we are advanced users, so rest assured that if we can figure out this business-essential software, so can you. 

Don't forget to get your Translation Times reader discount -- no strings attached. We really don't know how we managed to run our business without TO3000. If you are only going to purchase one piece of software this year, make it TO3000. 


Craig on July 27, 2012 at 2:42 AM said...

I agree, I'm an enthusiastic user of TO3000.

No other normal invoicing software let me enter all the different rates and charging schemes I use for different clients.

Creating templates for invoices etc. could be made more intuitive, though!

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on July 27, 2012 at 8:54 AM said...

@Craig: thanks for reading and for commenting. Delighted to hear that you love the software as much as we do.

You are right, creating the templates could be made a bit easier/more streamlined. Perhaps they will take this into account for the next version/update.

Emma Goldsmith on July 28, 2012 at 2:50 AM said...

The filtering feature is very powerful in all views.
I set the Client Jobs view filter to "Invoice is empty" to see all on-going jobs, with the status set to "Not completed".
Then if I want to check to see how my income for the current month is getting on, I just have to click "Calculate Totals".

The only thing I miss is the capability of cloning a job, which would save time entering very similar details all over again. I think this is available in the projects workflow mode, but since Version 10 has come out, I prefer working in the jobs mode.

I'd definitely recommend TO3000 to any translators who get that sinking feeling around invoicing time at the end of every month!

Suzan Piper on July 28, 2012 at 6:55 AM said...

Sadly I believe it's not available for Mac platform, otherwise looks like a great improvement on a cobbled together excel + word + accounting program system

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on July 28, 2012 at 9:11 AM said...

@Emma: thanks for the comment. Great point about not being able to clone a project. Perhaps you could let the developers know, and who knows....maybe they will look into it? And we agree: invoicing is fun with TO3000.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on July 28, 2012 at 9:13 AM said...

@Suzan: you are right, we don't think it is available for the Mac. Sorry, we never think about the ultra-hip Mac people, since we are just boring PC folks. Surely there must be some great accounting software for translators out there that's Mac-compatible. If we find something, we will blog about it right here.

Fabio Said on July 28, 2012 at 1:28 PM said...

This is definitely a great tip, Judy! TO3000 has been a big help in my translation business since late 2010. Just for the record, I work with more direct clients than translation agencies, and I usually do not work with people who want me to agree to their elaborate, and sometimes outrageous, TM discount schemes. So, TO3000 is just perfect for my needs.

One highlight for me is TO3000’s system of customer categorization, i.e. the little colored flags to the right of clients' names - so that we can categorize clients from red (least interesting) to blue (extremely interesting). :-)

I also like how I can enter and manage all my clients’ details, such as contact person, how they heard of me, the exact date I started working with them, the rates we agreed on, their payment practices etc.

Really, really helpful!

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on July 30, 2012 at 11:45 AM said...

@Fabio: thanks for the comment. Happy to hear that you love the software, too. And yes, we also work with direct clients. We should have mentioned that. And thanks for letting us know about the categorization feature; I haven't actually used it. It's great to learn from others. Thanks, Fabio!

Kari Koonin on August 2, 2012 at 1:28 AM said...

I looked at TO3000 a couple of years back and didn't like the user interface, but having just checked it out again, I'm much impressed by the new layout and will definitely go for it. So thanks for the recommendation, guys!

One question to VAT-registered TO3000 users: how do you get the information you need for your VAT return out of it? Is there a report?

Online Translation Company on October 15, 2012 at 4:27 AM said...

I've been searching for an invoicing system like this for sometime now.

Invoicing is a big challenge especially for a small translation company.

Thank you for sharing the TO3000 and thank you for your reviews with all your readers comments.

Joe Keady on May 9, 2013 at 7:12 AM said...

Thanks for posting this article. It's very useful.

Could you explain why it is, though, that you send invoices by post rather than email in Europe? I've never heard of distinguishing between US and European invoice deliveries that way and I'm wondering if I'm not missing something.

And no, it's definitely not available for Mac. I just chatted with one of their support people yesterday and he confirmed this.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on May 9, 2013 at 12:40 PM said...

@Joe: Thanks for commenting! We are so happy to hear that you like the review. Our Austrian accountant told us that paper invoice must be sent within Austria from Austrian businesses, but we don't know anything else beyond that. But we are good at following instructions. :) Be sure to check with your tax specialist on this important issue.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on May 9, 2013 at 1:01 PM said...

@Joe: Correction. Dagy just chimed in saying that it turns out it's now also possible to send these invoices electronically in Austria.

P.M. Turcotte said...

Hi Judy!

I am a former student from a UCSD course. I have kind of a random question... How many clients did you have before you needed to buy software to handle invoices?

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on April 7, 2017 at 2:29 PM said...

@P.M. Turcotte: Great to hear from you and good question. I honestly do not remember at all hoy many clients we had back then -- maybe 10 or so? I think it's best to have a good system set up from the very beginning, and I actually wish someone had told us that when we got started. So here we are, paying it forward now! Hope you end up liking TO3000 or a similar tool. It's been a lifesaver for us for sure.

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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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