Determine the functions that you need and then find a solution that fits your requirements and empowers everyone in your firm to work more productively
"Where did the time go?"
"Where did that file go?"
"Is my contact list current?"
"Does this client present a conflict?"
If you're having a hard time getting answers to questions like these, it's time to find a new-or replace a broken-practice management system.
Practice management is not a new concept. In fact, this information sharing software has been around for about 20 years. You can expect any good system to provide you with the same basic capabilities:
Go beyond the core functionality
Given that most practice management systems do the same basic things, how can you find the best solution for your firm? First, think about how you will do those things. Will you integrate the software with applications that you're already using, or do you want one comprehensive, stand-alone solution that does it all? Will you check for conflicts using Outlook and your firm's database or research every outside source available? Do you want front-office and back-office solutions that talk to each other or to separate systems for security reasons? Consider all the ways you'll use the system and build a wish list based on your specific needs before you go shopping.
Insist on seeing all your options in action
Never buy software before you've taken it for a test drive. Most vendors will be happy to demo their software for you. Use this opportunity to "look under the hood." Ask specific questions that will help you understand how the various product features will adapt to meet your requirements. For example, instead of asking to see the calendaring function, ask the sales rep more specifically to show you how you can view two people's calendars at the same time. Don't forget that a demo is a sales opportunity and that the person who is showing the software to you may have his or her own agenda. Keep the focus on what you need, not on what the vendor wants to sell you.
Maximize your investment with professional support
A sales rep may tell you about all the nifty product features, but a trusted partner will help you put those features to work. Look for a consultant who is knowlegeable, resourceful, and interested in you. Your vendor should be able to provide a list of consultants who know their products inside and out. Thanks to the Internet, there are no limits to finding training and consulting-and virtual handholding-24x7. It's a good rule of thumb to spend at least as much on training and support as you did on the software. Recent studies have proven that people who attend a structured training class are 50% more productive during the introductory period of learning something new than those who don't.
Get buy-in from the top down
The best consultant in the world can't help you unless everyone in your firm accepts and utilizes the new technology. People at the top can be the worst offenders. You can win hearts and minds by demonstrating the return on investment if the software is used to its full potential. IT consultant, Kelly Jones, principle consultant and owner of BTF Services, Inc. and co-founder of The 7 Second System, suggests that you develop a set of instructions, tips, and best practices for using the software in your firm. Put this information in writing and distribute it to all your employees as a convenient, consistent reference.
Get the right partner
LexisNexis understands that many attorneys want to focus on practicing law and not worry about running a business. Our deep knowledge of the needs of small to mid-size firms allows us to provide a comprehensive solution suitable for each individual firm. We offer a broad range of products, services, and support options to put the best practice management solution in place.
PCLawTM is the most widely used practice management software in North America. This fully integrated time, billing, and accounting software package is easy to use right out of the box. It will help your firm expedite billing and manage your trust, financial, and client accounting tasks. The total cost of ownership is lower than most competitive products, because the software requires less training and includes advanced accounting features like eBilling, remote entry, integrated payroll, and credit card processing.
Time Matters® gives you a complete, centralized system for streamlined client, matter, and communications management. Some law firms have reported that Time Matters software lets them take on 30% more work with exactly the same resources. Paperless, integrated matter management saves you the time that you would otherwise spend filing and finding documents. Easy-to-use automated forms eliminate the need to retype information and reduces human errors. Easy-to-customize calendaring tools make sure you hit every deadline right on time.
Choose Juris® when you're ready to take your capabilities up a notch. This powerful accounting and billing system can increase your firm's profitability with tools that accurately record time and expenses, increase realization, and reduce average billing cycle times from 183 to 60-90 days.
To learn more, visit www.lexisnexis.com/law-firms/practice-management or call us at 1-800-328-2898.