• Price: £26 a month, first 12 months in advance

  • Company: Particle Systems

  • Pros: Handles multiple currencies; visual task scheduler; includes free iPhone app.

  • Cons: Some tabs can be very cluttered

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Creative businesses sometimes struggle with the mundane tasks of running a company. There are numerous packages around to help manage a business, but Streamtime’s great strength is that it specifically targets those companies working in the creative industries, from graphic designers to architects.

Streamtime 10, which is based on the FileMaker 10 database, is an extremely effective CRM tool, letting users keep track of clients – with reminders to follow up on leads – and a record of all correspondence. It can generate quotes for a whole job or as a part of a larger job; those quotes can be emailed from within Streamtime and used to set up an invoice.

Quotes can be converted into jobs, which can be further split up into tasks for different people. Users can see a list of the tasks assigned to them and view a chart that shows jobs for all the people in a team, or a Gantt chart showing all the jobs in hand and the time set aside for them. There’s also a calendar that can be synced with iCal and record time sheets that can be used for billing clients.

Streamtime can generate reports on various items, from correspondence entered into with a particular client through to the profit on a job, and detail differences between a quote and an actual invoice. It can be integrated with some account programs, including MYOB, Quickbooks, Moneyworks and Sage.

There’s also a free iPhone app that shows the contacts database complete with all correspondence for each client, as well as the quotes and task scheduler.

Better yet, the pricing structure has been overhauled so that instead of a one-off cost there’s a monthly charge of £26. This includes the program itself, plus technical support and upgrades.