LegalTech News: Get time on your side by making the most of your software investment, March 2016

Peter Zver discusses with Mike Susong from Legaltech News, the 7 things you need to know before you invest in time and billing software – you can read the full article here.

Keeping accurate track of time and billing for that time in an organized, prompt manner are certainly some of the most important cogs in the gears that drive the legal industry. Long gone are the days of manually tackling these tasks — for now, time & billing software allows attorneys to digitally organize time management, budgeting and client billing.

Here’s a quick look at the basic functionality to insist on when evaluating enterprise-ready solutions and a few other considerations to help you get the most out of your software investment.

  • Time Tracking

The software should allow you to easily track billable hours with easy-to-use stopwatch functions to time tasks. It should also be able to accommodate hourly, contingent, transactional or user defined fees. For integrated systems, automated time capture features can prompt users to assign time to unbilled activities on their calendar, task manager or client-related emails.

  • Billing

Multiple attorneys should easily be able to bill at different rates and administrators need to be able to quickly pull unbilled time and expense entries — including flat fee balances — into an invoice. Many of today’s robust solutions also offer customizable invoice templates, PDF conversion and secure, digital invoice delivery.

  • Accounts Payable & Trust Accounting

This allows administrators to easily account for received payments and manage clients’ deposits on services that have yet to be rendered. Many of the current offerings aid in IRS filings, include check writing functionality and integrate with common online payment platforms such as PayPal.

  • Additional Features

As the legal technology market has matured and more vendors have endeavored to provide comprehensive platform solutions, many practice management software providers have included timekeeping and billing functionality and vice versa. If your firm would benefit from the matter organization, collaboration, scheduling, task management and document assembly that these solutions offer, it might be wise to bundle into a single purchase for convenience and cost savings.

  • Licensing & Hosting

Deciding between a server-based or cloud-based solution is quickly becoming a non-issue, but for the time being, it’s an important point not to overlook. Because of the IT infrastructure needed – including secure servers to protect client sensitive information – cloud-based services have become standard. They generally offer quicker installation, greater scalability and stronger data security.

Traditionally, server-based licenses were a one-time installation fee for each user and possibly an annual support subscription. Increasingly, both options use a subscription model that is based per user each month.

  • Interface & Integrations

Attorneys use simple, intuitive consumer apps in their everyday lives. The software they use every day at work shouldn’t come with a steep learning curve and cumbersome user experience. All the efficiency driving and cost saving features are meaningless if they are haphazardly utilized. In order to keep up with today’s mobile workforce, access through a web browser is a must. But most enterprise solution providers have been hard at work developing their own native apps, for the iOS and Android platforms, that provide a better user experience and increase the likelihood of habitual use.

If an all-inclusive practice management platform isn’t currently the right fit for your firm, you can still see benefits by looking for timekeeping and billing software that has the ability to integrate with email accounting, and HR programs.

  • Analytics & Reporting

Client boards of directors and managing partners alike are demanding more understanding as to how exactly legal dollars are being spent. Every software you evaluate will have its own unique approach but make sure it offers a quick, accurate view of billable time for all matters individually and overall. This transparency will help you see the forest for the trees in your billable practices, provide needed information in the unfortunate event of an audit or billing dispute, and attest to your firm’s general integrity.

Tikit is one of the largest and most established providers of technology solutions and services to legal professionals. Legaltech News spoke with Peter Zver, the North American president, to see what the experts are focusing on right now and into the future.

“Beside the standard functionality that streamlines the time-to-cash cycle and which targets mainly the back office expert user persona, the area that’s gaining more attention today, and is a key differentiator among systems, is the system’s ability to engage and offer value to the lawyers and the firm’s clients,” said Zver. “The value proposition for these users – often referred to as the prosumers – is the system’s ability to package and deliver actionable information, via relevant and targeted metrics, any time and on any device. At the same time, the system requires an underlying architecture (cloud) and security model to allow it to deliver the exact same value outside the firm to the firm’s clients. These features and architecture essentially remove the ‘back office’ label typically associated with time & billing systems.”

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By Peter Zver,  President Tikit Inc, North America

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