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BQE Core Review

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BQE Core Review

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Date Established
1995
Location
Torrance, CA

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Customizable subscriptions
  • Wide array of features

Cons

  • Confusing pricing plan
  • Steep learning curve

Overview

BQE was one of the originators of the all-in-one business management platform. With their flagship program, BillQuick, they ruled the roost with their project management, billing, and accounting services. In the fall of 2017, though, BQE stepped away from BillQuick (although they continue to support existing customers) and launched a brand new product: BQE Core.

Like BillQuick before it, BQE’s Core is an all-in-one business management platform. With time and expense tracking, project management, billing, accounting, and more, BQE wants to provide just about every conceivable management tool in one place. Core also incorporates many of the buzzwords flying around the tech world these days: machine learning, neural networks, and the like. This app is meant to represent the cutting edge of what is currently possible in automation and convenience.

How well does this young product succeed? Let’s dive in and find out.

Web-Based (SAAS) Or On-Premise

Core by BQE is web-based and does not require a download to operate. It does require an internet connection, though, so keep that in mind.

Pricing

The marketing team at BQE describes Core’s pricing as “simple,” and while I applaud opportunities to cut through the confusion, I would also describe this pricing scheme as “obstructive.” Let me explain. Like most project and business management apps, Core offers a couple of different subscriptions that give users access to different features. Unlike most of their competitors, though, they divide these subscriptions by user role. This does allow you, the user, to only pay for what you clearly need. Unfortunately, though, they only tell you the pricing for the most basic plan, leaving you guessing as to the prices of more complex subscriptions. Let’s take a closer look:

Time and Expense Users:

  • $7.95/user/month
  • Time/Expense tracking
  • Multiple task timers
  • Mobile Apps
  • Time off requests
  • Approvable workflows
  • Dashboards
  • Time/Expense reports
  • Notifications
  • Native Calendar

Manager Users:

  • Price: ???
  • Clients, Projects, and Contacts
  • Expense/Activity codes
  • Project Templates
  • Task management
  • Gantt Charts
  • Overtime Calculator
  • Invoice Templates
  • Standard, Scheduled, Project Management, and Memorized reports
  • 3rd Party Integrations
  • Custom Fields

Billing Users

  • Price:???
  • Manual and Batch Invoicing
  • Vendor bills
  • Recurring Invoices
  • Invoice Templates
  • Payments
  • Flexible Billing Schedules
  • Budgets, Estimates, and Fee Schedules
  • Time and Expense Reviewer
  • Recurring Invoices
  • Invoice Templates
  • Payments
  • Flexible Billing Schedules
  • Budgets, Estimates, and Fee Schedules
  • Time and Expense Reviewer

Accounting Users

  • Price:???
  • Chart of Accounts
  • Connection to Bank Feeds Worldwide
  • Bank and Credit Card Reconciliation
  • Deposits and Fund Transfers
  • Vendor Bills
  • Recurring Bills
  • Submit-Approve Workflow
  • Checks
  • Purchase Order Management
  • General Journal Entries
  • Credit Memos
  • Transaction Classes and Cost Pools
  • Accounting Reports
  • Customizable Dashboards
  • 3rd-Party Integrations
  • Built-in Calendar
Compare pricing to other project management software:
ServicePricingEase of UseWeb-Based or On-PremiseNext Steps

Free - $250/monthVery EasyWeb-Based

Go to Site

$25/user/monthlyEasyWeb-Based

Go to Site

$23.99+/month Web-Based, $360+/user On-PremiseVery EasyBoth

Go to Site

$49 - $199+/monthlyVery EasyBoth

Go to Site

Ease Of Use

Setting up a Core account through BQE is as easy as any other SaaS app; enter your name, email, and a password, and you are off to the races. Once in the app, you get the opportunity to customize labels, payroll settings, and the like; a nice touch that helps users feel like they are entering their own space. From there, the interface is pretty straightforward to use and manages to communicate the essential functions of Core, as well as how to access them. I am always a fan of a design that clearly leads users to key functions of the software, and while I won’t call Core’s UI beautiful, I will definitely call it eminently usable.

Here are a few highlights in terms of Core’s usability:

  • Easily Accessed Communication: While Core features the standard left-hand menu, the UI also includes a few buttons in the upper right of the screen. One of these is the communication menu; I love seeing business management apps making it easy to communicate with team members, whether they work on the other side of the office or the other side of the planet.
  • Dashboard: Core’s dashboard is laid out in a series of square tiles that display information from the app’s various capabilities. While dashboards are nothing new in this industry, it is always nice to see a well-realized example of a standard trope. Core’s dashboard lets you get a sense for what is going on in your team, and that is exactly what it is supposed to do.
  • Productivity Tools Menu: I like the way Core has chosen to group a set of features together, making them easy to access and easy to find. These “productivity tools” include task lists, groups, notes, documents and more. Again, this is nothing new in the industry, but it works well and makes your life easier. Gold star.

I do want to take a moment to point out that while I will tentatively say Core is easy to use, this is not quite the same as calling this software simple. If you are not familiar with the kinds of tasks carried out by accountants or a billing department, you may struggle to use some of Core’s features. Having said that, I suspect you would struggle with any app with similar capabilities. If you are struggling, you may find it useful to avail yourself of some of Core’s support options. On that note…

Customer Service & Support

The support options available for Core are among the most extensive I have seen, especially in terms of self-service. Here are my favorite options for learning the capabilities of this app and getting your questions answered:

  • Videos & Webinars: Core’s video library is comprised of 16 videos, all of which are less than 5 minutes long. They do a pretty good job of quickly communicating basic information about how to use Core, though their short length can limit their effectiveness. That short runtime does mean it is easy to quickly remind yourself of the contents by simply re-watching. The webinars, on the other hand, are longer-running and cover topics like project management, business intelligence, and effective billing. You can view recorded versions of the webinars or participate in one live on Wednesday nights.
  • Knowledgebase: Pretty much all project and business management apps have a knowledgebase; an emporium of the essential characteristics of their app. Core is no different, and I would definitely recommend checking here with any issues you might be having. Rather than waiting on a customer service rep to return your calls or messages, you might be able to solve your problems with just a little reading.
  • Blog: Most software provider blogs are full of posts giving business advice speckled with information and news about their own product. Core’s blog is no different; I would recommend perusing even if you are not interested in the more general advice posts.
  • Direct Contact: BQE maintains a customer support email address that you may use to get in touch with reps who can help answer your questions. You can also use the support hotline to chat with someone on the phone.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Despite being a relative newcomer on the project and business management stage, Core has pretty positive user reviews. Having said that, there are a few niggling issues that users would like addressed. Here are a few things you should take into consideration before subscribing to Core:

  • Steep Learning Curve: As I mentioned above, while Core does a lot to make your user experience easier, this is still a feature-rich app that will take some time to get to grips with. Most users understand that this is the case, but it can be frustrating to deal with that learning curve when you are in the middle of it. This is by far the most common complaint I have seen for Core.
  • Buggy: I did not encounter any bugs while testing Core, but I saw a couple of complaints that buttons and other aspects of the interface did not work properly.
  • Frustrating Customer Service: I ran across a few disgruntled users who claimed to have had a difficult time interacting with Core’s customer service team. These posts claimed a disconnect between the end product of Core and the knowledge of the customer service reps. This is definitely a concern; obviously, customer service reps need to have correct knowledge in order to be helpful in any way.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

As I mentioned, most users of Core are pleased with their choice of project and business management app. Here are few excerpts from the reviews of happy customers:

“Nice and easy to use and helps me stay organised in time for tax. I don’t have to store a whole stack of receipts as the software does it for me. I can also get a report to easily know what I am claiming for in tax.”

“The process of switching from BQE to Core was very much automated, and BQE staff were very helpful along the way. Now that we are using Core, and staff is inputting their time cards daily, it’s so much easier monitoring time spent on projects in real time, and our invoices are going out at least a week earlier than before. I highly recommend Core whether you are currently using BQE legacy or any other project management program.”

“The product is very powerful and provides quick information about how our projects are progressing – it allows us to know precisely how we are doing financially on each project. I like how flexible it is – much more flexible than other similar software I have used over the years. I like the interface and the customer service has been really excellent – they have been very responsive when we get stuck, and there has rarely not been a solution to our problems.”

“The product is great for the management of a project from time and expense reports to document management. It also manages the office contacts and calendar of events for all the employees. It will give you in real time if you are making or losing money on a project. It tracks and creates invoicing for all project clients. If you use QuickBooks, it is integrated directly with that software for complete accounting management. It is a great tool for Architects in that it is formatted for what we do (tasks and phasing of projects). If you have internet connection, you can get access to this program while on the road,”

“This software has allowed us to organize and manage our projects unlike ever before. It also has allowed us to eliminate a staff member that managed the invoicing, time sheet management and in general, all the work involved to chart and track a project’s profit or loss. It also has a calendar of events and to do lists for all the staff that has helped us to manage the activities of all the staff members. Being web based, it also allows us to access the software from multiple offices, job sites or from anywhere else we have access to the internet (phone or computer).”

“BQE Core’s insightful dashboards and business intelligence tells us exactly how our projects are performing. The fact that I can review this important data from anywhere anytime is a huge benefit. We love the easy of use and the flow of the software.The important KPI’s in Core for our projects, clients and staff help us run our business efficiently. Love the mobile phone app!”

Features

The team at BQE have packed Core with a wide array of neat features. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Time & Expense Tracking: Core’s time tracking utilities are among the most user-friendly I have encountered. It is easy to clock time and enter hours, and you can even have multiple timers active at once if needed. You can track hours on a computer or smartphone and enter expenses in multiple currencies. It even learns your schedule over time and predicts your timesheets. Overall, it is a convenient, well-made tool.

  • Project Management: With Gantt charts, project statuses, workflows, and budgets, Core’s project management tools tick most of the boxes for what makes a good management app. Overall, it seems a bit less effective than a dedicated project management app, but should suffice for general use.
  • Billing: Core’s billing and accounting features are a big part of what makes this software desirable. Fortunately, these seem useful and well-designed. You can send bills out one at a time or in batches, charge in lump-sums or by the hour, and select from a diverse library of invoice templates. You can even set bills to send automatically if you like.

  • Accounting: I will admit up front that I do not fully understand everything about accounting; after all, there are people who spend years of their lives getting degrees and certifications in order to be able to do it! However, from what I can tell, Core’s accounting features are generally useful. You can connect your Core account to global bank feeds, generate profit and loss reports, and manage vendor invoices. Combined with Core’s billing features, this is a powerful set of capabilities

Integrations & Add-Ons

Currently, Core does not offer many integrations. Those that are available, however, are pretty useful.

  • MYOB AccountRight Live
  • Quickbooks
  • Google Drive
  • Xero

Here’s hoping that Core works up a few more integrations soon – it is a definite chink in an otherwise impressive set of armor.

Final Verdict

Overall, I am impressed with Core. For a product that is relatively new, it comes across as remarkably polished and practiced. Yes, there are issues, as there would be with any product, but on the whole, it is easy to use, convenient, and clever. I do wish the pricing scheme was less opaque, and there are aspects of the software that will be more difficult to learn than others (I am looking at you, accounting), but for an all-in-one app, it is surprisingly accessible.

As always, though, you shouldn’t just take my word for it. Sign yourself up for Core’s free trial and try it for yourselves. Once you do, leave us a comment below, and tell us your thoughts!

Compare top project management software:
ServicePricingEase of UseWeb-Based or On-PremiseNext Steps

Free - $250/monthVery EasyWeb-Based

Go to Site

$25/user/monthlyEasyWeb-Based

Go to Site

$23.99+/month Web-Based, $360+/user On-PremiseVery EasyBoth

Go to Site

$49 - $199+/monthlyVery EasyBoth

Go to Site

Wesley Kriz

Writing from the Pacific Northwest (read: the Best Coast), Wesley graduated from George Fox University in 2014 with a degree in History, then again from George Fox in 2016 with a Masters of Arts in Teaching. He has been writing about project management for 2 years, and keeps a running list of wacky software brand names; seriously, it's wild out there
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