Have you evaluated the impact of your firm’s time entry solution on your firm? If not, you may want to give it some consideration.
It’s tempting to approach a timekeeping solution as an afterthought. After all, many vendors offering time entry solutions take this approach (free solution with no support, anyone?). This would be perfectly fine if timekeeping were inconsequential for firms, but the opposite is true: timecards are the units of revenue for law firms and should be at the forefront of any law firm’s strategy.
Your time entry solution and its relationship to timekeeping behavior has a considerable impact on the financial performance of the firm. Therefore, law firms should be obsessed with creating the highest quality of timecard inventory. One of the ways to address this is by eliminating liabilities that compromise your ability to create accurate and compliant time cards. Let’s explore the ways in which your timekeeping solution could be a liability for your firm, and what you can do about it:
#1: Poor user experience, based on what the vendor thinks, rather than what the timekeeper needs.
How many times have you heard from attorneys “I hate entering time” or “technology is not my thing.” Many of today’s time entry solutions on the market were built based on the priorities and convenience of the vendor, rather than the needs of the end user, claiming to do “everything.” This results in overly complex solutions that are a hassle for end users to learn and use. Inevitably, users resist these technologies because they do not deliver on the simple expectation of allowing them to keep track of their time in the simplest, most convenient way possible. When end users are not engaged, it leads to inaccurate time entries, issues with billing compliance, rejections, delays in payment, wasted staff resources and more. All of these things cost the firm money.
Solution: As consumers of technology (i.e., LinkedIn, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon), we look for simplicity and the ability to perform a function (i.e., network, watch a movie, listen to music, buy something), regardless of physical location and the device in our hands. Timekeeping demands the same experience. Be sure to understand the needs of the timekeepers at your firm and select a time entry solution that was designed to work the way lawyers work: at any time, at any place and using any device. Time entry must be simple, it should not be a burden.
#2: Obsolete on day one, and costly and time intensive to deploy and update.
You are no stranger to the fact that there is a considerable cost and amount of time involved in upgrading or rolling out a time entry solution. To make matters more frustrating, most solutions are obsolete by the time they are deployed, despite all of the time, cost and effort expended to get it in place. For most firms, this means a never ending cycle of deployments and upgrades.
Solution: If you haven’t yet noticed, we live in an “As a Service” world. Music, shopping, television (and more!) is now consumed as a service. This means that you are removed from the burden of knowing how to make technology work for you. Choose a “ time entry as a service” (SaaS) solution with a small amount of time to deploy that continually gives users the latest version of the product without saddling the firm with resource-intensive installation and maintenance.
#3: Failure to innovate leaves you with stale technology.
What is innovation? We define innovation as making something work better, rather than creating something new. As professionals, we are constantly changing the way that we work to improve productivity, align with our lifestyles (think of the mobile revolution), etc. Therefore, technology should be in a constant state of evolution. Despite this, many solutions on the market today have not rolled out any meaningful changes since they were launched and have no meaningful plans to improve their product. This is the most blatant disregard for their customers.
Solution: Hold your vendor accountable for innovating to meet the needs of your users. Everyone wants and says they innovate, however, that doesn’t mean it is really happening. What positive change are they creating? Does it really work and at what cost? Take a look at your vendor’s roadmap, their ability to deliver and how soon you can get those innovations in your hands. The roadmap should contain an aggressive schedule with meaningful improvements connected to the needs of your firm.
#4: Leaving your firm with massive security vulnerabilities.
Today’s legacy software solutions contain several security vulnerabilities, due to storing data on devices, replicating data in many places, and other security concerns. Knowing that law firms are lucrative targets for cybercriminals, many clients are increasing scrutiny of firms’ security practices through Outside Counsel Guidelines.
Solution: Work with a vendor that is committed to developing solutions that are secure from day one, following the advanced security standards. Avoid “frankenstein technology” that needs to be constantly patched in an attempt to adhere to the ever-changing security threats.
#5: Lack of compliance with client rules.
The last decade has been transformative for law firms due to clients putting more pressure on compliance and cost reduction. Long gone are the days that paper bills are presented and paid without scrutiny. With over 80% of medium to large legal departments implementing ebilling and legal expense management solutions, law firms are expected to comply with their guidelines or otherwise be subject to reductions and write-offs.
Don’t dismiss reductions and rejections as a “cost of doing business” due to the firm's time and resources. You did the work, and you should be paid for it.
Solution: Time, as it is entered, should immediately comply with any client guidelines. Choose a solution that allows you to comply at the point of time entry and can help your firm to embrace and manage outside counsel guidelines.
Choosing a time entry solution for your firm is an important decision that is directly tied to revenue. Therefore, it is important to evaluate whether your current solution truly meets the needs of your firm today and if it will continue to evolve to meet tomorrow’s demands.
How has the decision to choose a new solution impacted your firm? Share your comments below.