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It’s tough to keep up with technology without cleaning out your bank account, but it can be done. Whether you want to organize your bids, pay employees, or manage projects, there’s software ready to help you cope.

When running a home office or a small company, one of the toughest challenges is keeping up with technology without cleaning out your bank account. Luckily, software developers have come up with a bevy of ways to pay your bills, manage your time, and make you look like a pro.

In a company that has to put out bids, staying organized is essential. JobOrder from Management Software Inc. lets project-oriented firms plan, estimate, schedule, bill, and analyze bids. It also takes on other business functions, like project management, job tracking, and deadline planning. The newest version has such added features as customized invoice numbers, marketing campaign tracking, fixed-asset depreciation, and better terminology items. Although the company should be contacted for multi-user pricing, the solo version costs $1,495, and the application runs on Windows 95 or higher.

To keep employee morale high, sometimes all it takes is a snazzy payroll application that keeps the checks coming. CheckMark Software offers CheckMark Payroll, a $249 program that promises a complete payroll system. You can enter the number of hours worked, calculate pay, and cut checks quickly. The program also helps you to track slightly more complicated items like 401(k) preferences, vacation accruals, and all state and federal taxes. It also makes W-2 printing just a mouse click away. Works on Windows 95 and higher.

With better project management and happy employees, chances are that more clients will come knocking at your door, so throw away that paper-based planning system and get electronic with Appointment 1.0 from DW Data Concepts. The program features repeat appointment scheduling, notes, appointment history, flexible preferences, cross-platform viewing options, an internal user messaging system, and more. If you’re ever late for an appointment again, you can’t blame your trusty PC. Priced at $175, the program runs on Windows 95 and higher and requires FileMaker Pro 5 or higher.

As more work comes in, it’s time to get your invoice system on track. QuickInvoice from Smart Software Development allows you to create professional invoices, quotes, purchase orders, and other billing-related documents. Invoices can be printed, e-mailed, or faxed to the customer, and they’re even optimized for double-window envelopes. The program also monitors due dates and unpaid amounts, and the newest version has added ways shipping and payment options. Available for Windows 95 and higher, the program is $49.99 and can be downloaded from the VersionTracker site.

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