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4 Critical Questions to Determine if Your Law Firm Needs a Legal Practice Management Solution

4 Critical Questions to Determine If Your Law Firm Needs a Legal Practice Management Solution

Oct 21, 2020 | By Rosemary Kupfert | 0 Comments

Topics: Legal Technology, Business Management, Law Firms, Featured

 

In every law firm, there is a managing partner, an administrator, or an employee who uses the company software and complains about issues in it. They grumble about the outdated technology, functionality, server access, sudden crashes, incomprehensible reports, speed, and many other common problems of outdated software solutions for legal firms.  

As a result, they create elaborate workarounds to get the desired results instead of having streamlined workflow processes in place.

This costs law firms time and money every single day. 

The bottom line is that there is always someone at a law firm thinking: “There has to be a better way to manage casework and business operations!”   

This guide will walk you through 4 critical questions that will help you determine if your law firm requires a better legal practice management solution.

These questions will assist the management team and technology committee in analyzing processes and highlighting the weak links in your workflows. When identified, your law firm must evaluate and implement a fully-integrated time, billing, and accounting solution that streamlines financial management and business operations if you truly want to solve these problems for your organization.

 

1. Are Your Timekeepers Spending Too Many Hours Capturing and Managing Time & Expenses?

Capturing and managing billable time and client expenses must be quick, easy, and intuitive. 

Timekeepers must have easy access to billing software and workflow legal practice management solutions at all times.

To improve billing efficiency and to capture more hours, timekeepers need easy access to the platform to enter time and expenses. Timekeepers want a solution engineered with business intelligence and an easy user interface with smart tools for fast and accurate data entry. They also require software designed with intuitive dashboards to monitor and measure their billing performance.  

Without tools to maximize efficiency, timekeepers cannot efficiently track their billable hours and client expenses. This will frustrate them by forcing them to create time-consuming workarounds to track and enter time daily.

If you want to understand why your timekeepers are spending too many hours on simple accounting tasks, here are a few additional questions to ask: 

  • Is your technology located on a cloud platform to provide timekeepers with easy access?
  • Does your mobile app have artificial intelligence, making it capable of providing financial data in seconds? 
  • Does your time tracking technology provide a crisp, fresh, intuitive, real-time user interface? 
  • Do law firm procedures mandate time and expenses to be current and entered when doing client work?
  • Do real-time dashboards for managers and timekeepers provide tools to monitor performance?
  • Are billing staff constantly harassing timekeepers to get time in the system?
  • Does your software provide reminders for timekeepers when billable time is missing?
  • Are pre-billing and post-billing reports accurate and comprehensible?

If the answers to any of these questions are not satisfactory, then there are major inefficiencies within your law firm. The outdated software you are using does not offer the functionality for capturing and managing time and expenses that you need.

 

2. Are Your Invoices to Clients Accurate and Easy to Comprehend with Professional Branding?

You might automatically answer ‘yes’ to this question because your timekeepers are doing their jobs. However, the key to this question is timeliness and accuracy.  

The undeniable fact is that billing questions and complaints will never be eliminated. When a concern arises due to inaccurate billing entries or invoicing errors, hours that could be spent on billable client work and productive assignments are now lost revenue in time spent fixing that mistake.

Billable time and overhead hours must immediately be redirected to review, research, resolve, and respond to clients. If invoices are not clear, concise, and accurate, revenue is lost during the entire process and you could potentially even lose the client altogether. 

If billing staff is struggling to accurately and automatically create invoices to meet complicated fee arrangements, and bills must be recalculated, reformatted, and reproduced manually, your firm needs to evaluate business intelligence software designed to improve the efficiency of the billing process.

Here are a few additional questions to ask if you are wondering about the quality of your invoicing procedures:

  • Do you receive complaints because invoices are in-comprehensive or a challenge to understand? 
  • How many billing questions—via telephone and email—are received post-invoicing each month?
  • How much time are billing staff spending on workarounds to match client fee arrangements?
  • How much billable time and overhead hours are wasted to review, research, and resolve complaints? 
  • How much revenue is written off or credits applied to future services due to errors on invoices?
  • How are these inaccuracies affecting the business operations and, ultimately, the bottom line?
  • How long does it take for payments to arrive after invoices are sent?
  • Are there links for easy, immediate electronic payment of invoices?

If your answers to any of these questions are not satisfactory, then there are major inefficiencies with your software functionality. 

 

3. How Much Time Does it Take For Pre-Billing, Revising, Generating, and Sending Invoices? (The Billing Cycle)

Management, timekeepers, and billing staff that are burdened by outdated software are terrified by the thought of the ‘month-end.’  

It’s the time when the complexity of generating pre-bills and invoices begins, again. As a result of software inefficiencies, this month-end cycle can bring stress and challenges to your team. 

Not only is management watching the clock and stressing, but each timekeeper is also constantly reviewing files, emails, and phone logs. They are scrambling to find receipts and fearing they have missed capturing time or other critical expenses.

Think carefully and analytically about all the mundane tasks and countless hours involved to get invoices out and money in. If your law firm is inefficiently processing billing, creating workarounds in unsupported desktop software, running to the bank to make deposits, then it is time to update your technology to streamline the billing cycle and accounting processes.

In addition, the full scope of day-to-day billing tasks involves a lot more than just capturing and managing time. Billing staff must:

  • Review vendor bills
  • Enter costs
  • Post payments
  • Open client files with complicated billing arrangements
  • Apply invoice layouts
  • Handle client trust funds
  • Manage fee agreements
  • Check conflicts
  • Provide management financial reports

By not providing a modern cloud-based time, billing, and accounting solution with mobile options, and by not having proper billing procedures in place, your law firm is losing revenue daily.

You need a state-of-the-art solution with business intelligence to efficiently capture, manage, and monitor billing data—automating and streamlining the pre-billing and final invoicing process. 

Here are a few additional questions to ask:

  • How many hours does it take to process billing into a final client-ready invoice? 
  • How many manual processes are performed pre-billing to monitor timekeeper performance? 
  • Are automatic reminders or reports sent to timekeepers to monitor billing performance? 
  • Are billing managers constantly harassing and hounding timekeepers to enter missing time?
  • Are hourly rates consistently incorrect and manually changed during the pre-billing process?
  • Are billing descriptions inconsistent or incomplete with typos that require major revisions?
  • Are back-up receipts or documents scanned and attached manually to send with invoices? 
  • How much time is spent ensuring invoice formatting is correct? 
  • Can invoices be electronically delivered to include back-up documents automatically attached?
  • Can custom email messages personalize and automate immediate delivery of invoices?
  • Are flat fee, split bills, and re-running invoices accurate per client billing requirements? 
  • Are client trust funds automatically applied to the current client invoice charges?
  • Do invoices provide clear information with retainer reminders for replenishment amounts?
  • Is billing staff compiling data from more than one source onto spreadsheets for reports?
  • How many manual processes are performed post-billing to report on billing performance metrics?
  • How fast are payments received after submission of an invoice? 

If your answers to any of these questions are not satisfactory, then there are major inefficiencies when it comes to streamlining time and expense management for a seamless pre-billing and invoicing process.  

 

4. Does Your Law Firm Have a Platform with Business Intelligence That Produces Reports and Financial Insights Required for Accurate Forecasting and Budgeting?

Management, timekeepers, and billing staff that are burdened by outdated software are terrified by the thought of the ‘month-end.’  

It’s the time when the complexity of generating pre-bills and invoices begins, again. As a result of software inefficiencies, this month-end cycle can bring stress and challenges to your team. 

Not only is management watching the clock and stressing, but each timekeeper is also constantly reviewing files, emails, and phone logs. They are scrambling to find receipts and fearing they have missed capturing time or other critical expenses.

Think carefully and analytically about all the mundane tasks and countless hours involved to get invoices out and money in. If your law firm is inefficiently processing billing, creating workarounds in unsupported desktop software, running to the bank to make deposits, then it is time to update your technology to streamline the billing cycle and accounting processes.

In addition, the full scope of day-to-day billing tasks involves a lot more than just capturing and managing time. Billing staff must:

  • Review vendor bills
  • Enter costs
  • Post payments
  • Open client files with complicated billing arrangements
  • Apply invoice layouts
  • Handle client trust funds
  • Manage fee agreements
  • Check conflicts
  • Provide management financial reports

By not providing a modern cloud-based time, billing, and accounting solution with mobile options, and by not having proper billing procedures in place, your law firm is losing revenue daily.

You need a state-of-the-art solution with business intelligence to efficiently capture, manage, and monitor billing data—automating and streamlining the pre-billing and final invoicing process. 

Here are a few additional questions to ask:

  • How many hours does it take to process billing into a final client-ready invoice? 
  • How many manual processes are performed pre-billing to monitor timekeeper performance? 
  • Are automatic reminders or reports sent to timekeepers to monitor billing performance? 
  • Are billing managers constantly harassing and hounding timekeepers to enter missing time?
  • Are hourly rates consistently incorrect and manually changed during the pre-billing process?
  • Are billing descriptions inconsistent or incomplete with typos that require major revisions?
  • Are back-up receipts or documents scanned and attached manually to send with invoices? 
  • How much time is spent ensuring invoice formatting is correct? 
  • Can invoices be electronically delivered to include back-up documents automatically attached?
  • Can custom email messages personalize and automate immediate delivery of invoices?
  • Are flat fee, split bills, and re-running invoices accurate per client billing requirements? 
  • Are client trust funds automatically applied to the current client invoice charges?
  • Do invoices provide clear information with retainer reminders for replenishment amounts?
  • Is billing staff compiling data from more than one source onto spreadsheets for reports?
  • How many manual processes are performed post-billing to report on billing performance metrics?
  • How fast are payments received after submission of an invoice? 

If your answers to any of these questions are not satisfactory, then there are major inefficiencies when it comes to streamlining time and expense management for a seamless pre-billing and invoicing process.  

 

The Author

Rosemary Kupfert

Rosemary Kupfert is Product Expert - Core Legal at BQE Software. She has more than 30 years experience as a firm administrator and then a consultant to over 1,000 law firms nationwide, helping to improve their workflow and administrative efficiency through business and technology.

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