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What to Look for When Choosing on a Time and Billing Solution

 

Introduction

So, you've decided, or you are at least thinking about, changing to a different solution for your time and billing. Well, this brief document is designed to give you some food for thought. We hope that the information provided here will assist you in finding, evaluating and ultimately choosing the right solution for your company. However, we want to be perfectly straight with you, we are DTBusiness and we offer a product called LAWS/Pro. We feel that LAWS/Pro is not only the right software package for most law practices, but it is the most complete, integrated solution on the market today. Based on that fact, and the fact that we have been providing law practice management for over 30 years, we offer these tips to you.
Here is our list of things to look for. They are in no specific order. As you review specific solutions, go through each of the areas outlined below and look at the products in detail. Compare them all side by side. The last thing you want is to choose a solution that will put you back where you are today.
 

Conversion

One of the first things you'll encounter in implementing any package is the conversion. We have found that most people keep their data in a variety of places. This may include within a billing program, a calendar program, a contact manager, an accounting program, in spreadsheets, and on mobile devices or other synchronizing applications. Moving this data from where it is to where it needs to be is often a major task and one that can take an immense amount of time to accomplish.
Make a specific list of what data you have and where it lives now. Find out what tools and services are offered by each product vendor. Find out the additional costs associated. Costs usually vary based on how much data is brought over. You may reduce these costs by only converting current data and leaving older, historical data on your existing products. You will also want to understand how long the conversion will take. Depending upon your data and requirements, data conversion may cost substantially more than the licensing of the software products involved.
DTBusiness offers free data conversion with the prepayment of your first year subscription fees. There are some restrictions to this offer but in most cases we can convert your data in its entirety and load it into LAWS/Pro. We usually convert everything - meaning you still have all your history. After some initial investigation, we are usually able to extract your existing data from a variety of sources, clean it up, load it into LAWS/Pro and get you up and running in less than a day. Click Here to see our LAWS/Pro pricing structure and conversion fees..
 

Depth

Look deep into each time and billing software package to determine how much true depth and features they have. For example, if a matter setup only provides space to specify a matter description, then the software may not be able to track things like a claim number, the date an action was initially filed, the storage location of a closed file, or handle matter specific invoice formatting. Look closely at how the firm, attorneys, clients, matters and billing codes are defined. If the setup sections do not have any detailed options then it's a good indication that the software may have very little depth.
The practice of law is complex and diverse. Each attorney has their own unique way of doing things. Some need to report on specific things to get a handle on their practice and cases. If the information needed to break everything down is not on file then it will be difficult if not impossible to get any reports on it. You may not need all the features in a program but it should facilitate a lot of different options so you have a good chance of having what you might need. One size does not fit all.
LAWS/Pro is built on 30 years of working with legal professionals. It is simple to use yet at the same time has a long list of options and features including over 300 different reports. Over the years we have listened and learned from our customers and we continue to add and enhance to make LAWS/Pro the best in every regard. Click here to see a partial list of the LAWS/Pro reports
 

Flexibility

A good software solution should work with you and the way that you do business. You should not have to change the way you work to fit the software. For example, If you use client codes that are based on the clients name and other info, you should not be forced to change to use numeric codes. Or, if you use a specific G/L chart of accounts, you shouldn't have to change and use another. Making radical changes such as these can disrupt your office and cause longer training times. Your new software should, as much as possible, fit your way of life.
LAWS/Pro has standard setups to get you up and running quickly. It also has the ability to set specific options that fit your firm such as auto numbering of new matters, customized display of information on pages, etc. LAWS/Pro even let's you use customer terminology. So you could refer to your "matters" as "projects" if you so choose.
 

Integration

One of the most time consuming aspects of many law office management software solutions is the task of moving data from one program to another. This may consist of moving entries from a calendar to a billing program, moving billing data to an accounting program, or moving client records from a calendar to a case management system. Each of these tasks are not only time consuming but they are very inefficient and error prone. If you find solutions that interface or integrate with each other then these issues can be decreased or altogether eliminated. That makes your practice not only more efficient but also more accurate.
LAWS/Pro is a totally integrated product. It includes calendaring, time entry, billing, accounts receivable, disbursements, general ledger, trust accounting, contact management and document storage. That means that if you put something on the calendar, then mark it complete it will be scheduled for invoicing to the client. If a check is written as a client cost it will be added to the clients invoice. During invoicing, payments can be applied directly from trust accounts and everything is accurately recorded in a general ledger system. There is no double entry and no differences in reconciliations.
 

Remote Access

Remote access is a key element of doing business today. Virtually every company uses remote access for email, calendaring and even accessing their computers from home. There are a lot of utility programs out there to help you in getting remote access. Some of these include tools like PC-Anywhere, GoToMyPC, LogMeIn, Remote Desktop and Cytrix. These tools not only place additional operating costs but they are also less than perfect to work with. Working remotely using these tools is not quite like being at the office using your computer there. When evaluating what is available, test your solutions in a remote environment. See how they will perform and if you can do all that you need to accomplish.
LAWS/Pro is a 100% web-based application. That means that remote access is built in by design. Whether you are working from home, the office or anywhere else, the experience is the same easy to use and fast response. Click here to see a video answering common questions about LAWS/Pro
 

Cost

Take time to understand the true cost of all pieces. If you have several software packages that make up the total solution then price each one and roll it together. If a software package requires a backend database server then include the cost of the hardware and software required for that server. Get the initial cost and the annual maintenance costs for each. If they require technical expertise to install or upgrade, include that cost as well. If they require installation on each computer in your office then multiply that cost and include it. Often sales people will minimize the cost and just focus on the initial cost for licensing. Including these other factors will provide you with a better, true cost.
LAWS/Pro is a total solution which eliminates the purchase of multiple products. Since it is web-based it requires no additional hardware to be installed at your office. Backups are done by DTBusiness which further reduces your costs. All this is available for one low subscription cost. Click here to see the LAWS/Pro pricing.
 

Bells and Whistles

Look into each solution and see what they offer to make your practice even better. Ask if they have hints and tips available to help you optimize and increase your profitability. What features do they offer that may be easy to implement and give you that extra professional edge. Is the company looking at integrating new, current technologies into their software? Is the software being enhanced on a regular basis? You may not need these features but they're sure nice to have available should you decide that you do.
You want em - we've got em. Our crack programming staff is always playing with the latest in technology and looking for ways to increase efficiency in LAWS/Pro by utilizing them. You'll find new features being added on a regular basis - most often long before people even recognize the need for them. We keep a list of new technologies and are always working towards implementing those that make sense. Click to see a tutorial on our Certified Email Feature or Click to see a tutorial on linking an External Calendar with the LAWS/Pro Time and Billing Software
 

Technical Support

Look deep into technical support. Yes you will most likely need it sometime. Do they have expertise in the product? Are they easy to reach and helpful? Are they overseas and reading from a manual? Are you routed through layers of automated trees on the phone just to get to them? Do you have to pay extra for telephone versus Internet support? Do they just help in technical areas of their product or can they also assist with general accounting or operational questions? You are going to be paying for maintenance, make sure you have good support available with people who can help make it all work.
DTBusiness has top rated customer support. A good percentage of our support calls are questions regarding accounting and law practice management. We provide experts who take the time to walk you through the options and they offer advice based on years of experience. We take time to understand and help our customers be successful.
 

Choosing a Time and Billing Software Solution

We hope you find these tips useful. Often times we get caught up by sales people and don't look at the details. By taking the time to look deeper you can find the right solution for you. Our experience has shown that many, if not most people, tend to hate their time and billing software. It has issues, requires an immense amount of their time and is costly. We can say that LAWS/Pro is the time and billing software solution and that we resolve all those issues but that's what every other vendor out there will tell you as well. Unfortunately it will require your efforts to weed out the falsehoods and to find what really works. Our hope is that when you take time to do that discovery, you'll take a look at LAWS/Pro. We already know it's the best out there on the market but we want you to see that for yourself. If you have any questions feel free to contact us and we'd be more than happy to answer them. We can even put you in contact with some of our customers who can tell you what they experienced. Click here to Contact DTBusiness Support

DeskTop Business Solutions, LLC

http://www.DTBusiness.com

P.O. Box 455, Roscommon, MI 48653
Phone: (989) 275-4843

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