What Tools Should Your New Financial Management System Come With?
When you are looking for a new legal and financial management system for your law firm, it’s important to be deliberate and thoughtful about what that system can actually do for you, the firm’s partners, associates, and staff. Choosing a system because it has one exciting feature may leave you with buyer’s remorse if you find out later the system doesn’t meet your needs.
Start the process by creating a list of “must-have” features to help improve your firm’s efficiency and cut down on time-consuming tasks. Here are six features our clients tell us are tools they don’t want to live without:
1. Cloud-Based Solutions
The list of benefits of using a cloud-based system includes enhanced security, the ability to roll out software updates behind-the-scenes, cost-efficiency and much easier collaboration. And as we’ve mentioned before, the future of all legal management systems is in using cloud-based solutions.
When your firm’s legal and financial management system is cloud-based, staff can be productive from literally anywhere there is internet access. If you are working from your home office, traveling or just dealing with inclement weather, having access to system applications, client data, files and documents through the cloud means they can still get the work done. Having the ability for anyone to work remotely periodically or on a regular basis can be an added benefit when trying to attract talented associates looking to use more technology for their law practice once joining your firm.
2. Mobile Time Entry
While it may seem like a small item in the greater scheme of things, time entry is an important task for anyone who works in a law firm. Let’s face it: attorneys and staff in busy law firms have a lot on their plates. When someone is out of the office for business, vacation or has just been buried under files, time entry is one of those tasks that takes a backseat to more pressing matters.
Many law firm administrators dread having to remind partners, associates and staff to enter their time regularly. It’s not only a hassle for everyone in the firm; when time is entered after the fact, the potential for errors goes up too.
Here’s the good news: When your legal management system includes mobile functionality, one of the benefits is the ability for people to enter their time from anywhere, right on their smartphone or tablet. Whether they are at the office, in the courtroom, or on the road visiting clients, they can enter their time right away. This cuts down on frustration and lowers the risk of errors that can occur entering time days or weeks after the work was actually performed.
Just like the dashboard in your car shows you what is going on all around you and where you are headed next, the dashboard for your legal management system gives you the real-time information you need to keep driving the firm in the right direction. Your firm’s dashboard gives you business intelligence – actionable insights in an easily-understood visual format.
And, when your legal management system uses cloud-based technology, your dashboard will be visible from anywhere your users are. This can help both rank-and-file employees and key decision-makers make course corrections early, helping keep the firm on track to reach its goals.
4. Outlook Integration
Look for a legal management system that can integrate seamlessly with Outlook, rather than requiring a separate email tool for communications.
System integration means that your legal management system can leverage outlook for automated communication for billing, reporting, reminders and event tracking. Having these tight integrations allows for seamless email communication in both Outlook and in the legal management system. This can improve both firm and client service at all levels by and helps organize information and communications together in one easy-to-use integrated system.
Your firm’s financial statements are a window into how the firm is doing – scorecards to help keep you on track. However, if the process of compiling those statements is manual and labor-intensive, then reviewing them can become a chore.
Use a legal management system that allows for easy, real-time reporting on your firm’s data. To get the most out of your firm’s financial data, choose a system that lets you customize reports to get the specific data partners need to see, and one that can automate report delivery.
Finally, look for a legal management system that will help you keep your to-do list out of your head, and into a system you can trust. As David Allen of Getting Things Done says, “Your mind is a great place to have ideas, but a terrible place to manage them.”
Choose a system you can set with important reminders for events, budgets and client data so you can stop worrying about remembering to do things and have the confidence knowing that you’ll be reminded of the important things when it’s time to take action on them.
Make Sure Your Legal and Financial Management Systems Meet Your Needs
When you choose a legal and financial management system for your law firm that was engineered to make everyday tasks easier, you can have the confidence that comes from knowing you have the tools to help your firm meet its goals in the most efficient way possible.