Changing Practice Management Systems in the age of COVID (don’t leave your back office behind).

We all like shiny objects, whether we care to admit it or not. As much as I talk about not being wooed by the shiny objects (the trees), and instead focusing on the big picture (the forest), I still find myself taking sideways glances – that’s human nature.

With COVID, we find that lots of lawyers are noticing the shiny objects that they see in the cloud-based practice management ecosystem, and that’s GREAT, but many are failing to also consider that big picture and are sometimes picking packages that don’t meet their current needs, usually in ways they’d never imagined.

With “access from wherever you are” being so valuable these days, that single need is leading the charge to switch to packages that may fall short in areas that are also important to the firm (frequently on the accounting and billing side of the equation).

Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of cloud based practice management packages that can also handle the other things that are important to your practice, but the trend (particularly in these COVID times) is move first, discover second.

And any trial lawyer knows that discovery comes first.

Here are a few of the other things to consider that might not be particularly top of mind for the average attorney:

Electronic Billing – Do you submit bills to electronic platforms for acceptance. Does the platform that you are considering support all the formats, sub-formats, and idiosyncrasies that you are currently obligated to support?

Integrated Accounting – Does the accounting side of the proposed platform match up with current and anticipated needs? Does it rely on QuickBooks integration or does it have its’ own integrated accounting. On which methodology does your current system rely? Do you track client advances in your books? How? Do you take retainers that go into the operating account? Can the new system account for these types of retainers? There’s lots to consider here – tread lightly.

Reporting – Can you get all the information that you rely on from your current system out of the proposed system? Is getting that information as easy as the current system?

Receipt Allocation – Do you track receipts and report based on splits for origination? Responsible Timekeeper? Working timekeeper? If so, is there mechanism in the proposed system that allows for similar tracking and reporting?

Trust and Retainer Accounting Needs – Does a new platform need to support evergreen trust replenishment or automatic trust or retainer application to invoices? What other trust related needs is your current system handling well?

While not an exhaustive list, these are some key areas that I see being overlooked, and when not considered (and planned for), trouble ensues.

So go down the pathways that these shiny objects lead – there’s some really neat stuff out there that can help you to better manage your practice! Just be careful, do your due diligence, and do the internal research that’s necessary to ensure that the solution you are considering meets your current and anticipated needs in all areas.

How can you be sure? Call me. 

Paul and all of the practice management experts at Affinity Consulting are here to assist you with your software selection process or any other practice management solution challenge. Just contact Affinity by calling 877-676-5492, or simply request a consultation.

Paul Purdue

Written by Paul Purdue

Paul spends his days talking to people about technology, their firm, and how Affinity fits into that picture. Paul was born in 1961. His father was a patent attorney, and Paul was the nerd. Paul’s father bought a Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I (that’s a roman numeral one for you youngsters) Computer that actually used a tape recorder to store programs, data, and documents. He incorporated Attorney Computer Systems the same year he graduated from high school (1980). He placed his first Tabs3 in 1985. In 2008, ACS added Worldox, and in 2018, they added NetDocuments. On August 31, 2020, they moved to Affinity. Paul’s superpowers are reaching the unreachable, and explaining the unexplainable. Listening to people talk is his favorite part of his job.

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