Archive for Billing Software

Timeslips 2018

It’s July and it’s time for a new version of Timeslips. Timeslips 2018 is scheduled for release on Tuesday, July 18, 2017.

We are often asked “Should I update?”. The answer is usually “it depends”. Factors like what version are you currently running, and what is your operating environment are as important as looking at the new features. While you may have heard rumors that Timeslips is going to a subscription model, this is not true. As Timeslips certified consultants, we can sell you a perpetual license version, with or without a support plan, or a subscription version. The choice is yours and we can help you choose.

This year there is an additional factor. Sage has announced that they will only be supporting the current version and one version back. Therefore, as of August, only Timeslips 2018, 2017 and Premium (subscription version) will be supported. If you are running E-Center or accepting credit cards through Sage Timeslips, you will need to be on a supported version. Upgrading while on a supported version is also less expensive. If you are on an older version of Timeslips and running Windows 10 or Office 2016, or planning to, it may be time to upgrade. Similarly, for larger firms that have not yet upgraded, the additional capacities and performance benefits of the newer versions mean that it may be a good time to upgrade.

Timeslips 2018 also offers some new features.

  • Quick Bills allow you to build a bill all in one screen. When you are billing a one time client, or just trying to get one bill out, this feature can speed up the process.
  • Fee Allocation expanded. Previously Timeslips was limited to three categories for fee allocation reporting. With Timeslips 2018, this has been expanded to 10 categories, adding more power and flexibility in reporting.
  • Set the start day of the work week. This setting affects reports that total amounts by week and lets you set a work week that matches how your firm measures a week.
  • Timeslips shows hints in name lists when My Lists are active. While a small thing, this will probably save many calls to consultants. Have you ever looked at the client list and known that people were missing but can’t determine why? When my list is active, your lists are filtered based on your assigned names. This was sometimes activated by mistake or activated and forgotten leading to frustration in finding those missing names. Now a simple reminder will help you know to change to all, and “find” those missing names.
  • Option to show contact email addresses on pre-bill worksheets
  • New bill layout options to control page break before consolidated bill summary
  • Improved performance
    • If your database includes a lot of consolidated bills, opening the Reprint Bills list (select Bills > Reprint
      Bills ) could be slow. You can now unmark the ‘Show consolidated projects separately’ option to
      improve performance.
    • You can use the Split Billing Rules dialog box (select Bills > Split Billing Rules ) to maintain split
      billing. If you have a lot of rules, this list could open slowly.
    • When working with timesheets, the list of timesheet templates (select Slips > Time Sheet > Slip
      Templates ) loads much faster.
    • Fee Allocations report and Fee Allocation by Period report have been optimized to generate much
      faster.
    • Timekeeper Collections report and Timekeeper Collections by Period report have been optimized to
      generate much faster.
  • eCenter Data Transfer Utility is now part of Timeslips, making it easier to use.
  • View all reports on one list and “search for report” field. This can be especially useful if reports have been moved from default locations

Many of these features were previously added to Timeslips Premium, so they have already been tested. If you would like to review the system requirements, please go to Timeslips system requirements

If you want to know if upgrading is right for you, get pricing or have questions about the new features, please contact us at http://www.timeandcents.com/contact-us/. We are happy to help.

 

Amicus Attorney “merges” with Abacus

You may have seen the article about the merger of Abacus and Amicus. We have been told that it will have no impact on the Amicus Attorney products at this time. If you would like to discuss the announcement, please contact me and I will be happy to have a no cost discussion about your specific situation.
If you would like to read the full announcement, please go to http://www.abacuslaw.com/resources/blog/abacus-data-systems-and-amicus-attorney-join-forces-transform-practice-automation

Software for Law Firms – Time Matters

If you have been following our series in Intuitive Accountant, our latest article has been posted. If you have identified your software needs to include billing and practice management, with QuickBooks for accounting, and you want powerful customization in your practice management, then you should consider Time Matters / Billing Matters from LexisNexis.

You can read this article at: Software for Law Firms – Time Matters

Quickbooks for Law Firms: Time Expenses and Invoicing

If your firm has decided to use QuickBooks for billing please read Part 4 in our series of using QuickBooks in a Law Firm.

Even if you are not a law firm, the information is useful for any professional services firm using QuickBooks for doing billing.

QuickBooks for Law Firms: Time Expenses and Invoicing/

Timeslips v2013 and New Upgrade Policy

Many software programs release a new version every year. Sometimes this leads to a release focused on fixing problems and with few things that make us say, you should upgrade. Other years we get a program filled with new features. While some of the new features may not have everything we want, Timeslips 2013 offers a solid set of new features that offer benefits to most customers, along with an effort to fix historical problems.

My favorite new feature in Timeslips 2013 is the ability to prevent the entry of slips outside a date range. As a consultant I cannot count the number of times I have found firms that set a start and end date on their bills. While intuitively this may make sense, it can lead to a problem of slips entered outside the date range and never billed. I have seen thousands of dollars of old time written off because it was omitted and is now stale. While you can run reports to check on this it, prevention is better. With Timeslips v2013 you can restrict slip entry date and prevent timekeepers from entering slips for dates that are in the past.

Have you have ever entered a number of slips and then discovered they were duplicates or needed to be deleted for some other reason? You could delete them one by one or, if they were in sequence you could purge them. More often, you had to manually delete one at a time. With Timeslips v2013 this minor mistake will no longer be a major hassle. The new delete multiple slips capability will increase efficiency in handling this task.

Timeslips v2013 also offers a new calendar feature. Because it is all in Timeslips you can ensure that all calendar appointments are accounted for and billed. While the calendar does not synchronize with Outlook or mobile devices, it is a useful addition for many and an easy way to a shared office calendar – with the added benefit of easily knowing about missing time.

Attachment capabilities have also been added to Timeslips v2013. If you have files that have been scanned as PDFs or created as word documents you can attach them to invoices being submitted electronically. Additionally, you can now initiate a scan from the slip entry screen and attach a receipt to a slip which will later be billed. This can help significantly with expense tracking and submitting reimbursements to clients.

When one activity takes places do you always want a second slip created? For example when entering a slip for “appearance in court” do you also want a slip for “travel time”? Timeslips v2013 includes a slip trigger to start a new slip when a slip with a certain task is saved. This will help ensure capture of more time and expenses.

Other new features in Timeslips v2013 include:
Include slip notes on pre-bill worksheets to help with the billing process
• Calculate average days to pay to better forecast cash and to better understand your customers
• Set a relative date for custom fields. This is especially useful for those clients doing electronic billing and can remove the need to manually update these fields on each bill cycle
• When generating reports you can now create custom formulas on date fields, increasing the flexibility of reports
• Different predetermined price levels for expense items. At this time you cannot set a default expense price level for a client like you can with time, but the levels are there making it easier to make sure the right prices are charged
• Save paper when printing bills. If your printer has a duplex print capability, Timeslips can now take advantage of this functionality including the ability to set what should be on a new page when duplex printing.

It is also important to note that Sage has implemented a new upgrade policy. Effective October 1, 2012, upgrades will only be sold to those on a supported version of Timeslips. Supported is defined as the current version or two back. So, after October 1st if you are running older versions of Timeslips you will have to pay for a new license, instead of an upgrade. For a single license the additional cost is currently around $100 but this rises as the number of users increases. Whether or not we agree with the policy, Sage joins a growing number of companies requiring customers to “stay current” or face a penalty. If you are running an older version of Timeslips the new features available plus the policy change make this a good time to upgrade.

If you would like to learn more about Timeslips 2013 and whether you should upgrade, or have questions about the new policy, please call Caren at 203-254-7736. Remember we will assist you with any version of Timeslips and, if you choose to upgrade, we will make sure you get the best price.

Should I use QuickBooks for Billing? Updated

It seems that everyone is striving to simplify, and this frequently leads to the questions “Why do I need a separate billing program? Can’t I just use QuickBooks for my billing?” Generally speaking, I answer “That depends on your business and your needs but, for most legal firms and many professional service firms, the answer is no.”

While QuickBooks has many good points, when it comes to professional services billing and reporting it has many limitations. These can be addressed by add-ons or in some cases, a work-around. Each firm is different so determining whether QuickBooks will work for your firm’s billing requires you need to understand your firm‘s needs and know what QuickBooks can’t do.

The first thing that is most critical for many law firms is that QuickBooks cannot automatically show Trust activity on the bill. The only way around this is to enter the transactions onto the bill which is complicated and can lead to errors. Additionally, while QuickBooks can be setup to track trust fund balances, it is up to you to manually ensure you don’t overdraw the trust account for any individual client. Given the high penalty of this action, do you want to depend on manual checks?

Another area to look at closely when choosing a billing solution is how you setup your rates. If you have QuickBooks Premier you can setup billing rates for a vendor or employee. If your rate varies by client you might be able to use price levels, however only percentage-based price levels will work correctly. Alternatively you can setup unique service items but this requires ensuring that the time entry person picks the correct item and the list can get long and difficult to manage.

Do you need or want subtotaling on your invoices – time vs expenses, subtotals by timekeeper, or totals by activity? You can manually insert subtotals on the invoice but it cannot be done automatically. Additionally there is no ability to create a timekeeper summary table, a popular feature with many professional services firms.

If you have a need to sort the entries on the invoice in QuickBooks in a particular fashion you must either type them in or choose them one at a time, there is no sort capability. There is also no easy way to show the timekeeper who did the work on the invoice.

If you bill clients for soft costs, those things for which you don’t write a specific check, there’s no direct way to track and bill customers. Additionally users cannot choose to allocate payments to expenses, fees or specific timekeepers. If the client pays part of the invoice balance the payment will be allocated proportionately across the items on the invoice.

While QuickBooks has a batch billing capability, you can only use this if you are going to bill the clients exactly what is on the bills automatically, there’s no ability to edit as you go. QuickBooks also does not have a pre-bill capability. If you generate bills and include time and costs and then choose to remove those entries from the bill or undo the bill, the entries do not return to billable status.

QuickBooks does not have the ability to do electronic billing like Ledes or Litigation Advisor. QuickBooks also does not have options to setup flat fee, split billing or consolidated billing arrangements for different clients or to assign different bill layouts to different clients.

When you choose a billing solution you also must look at the types of reports you will need to run. Will you want to see profitability on flat fees? Do you need to know revenue by timekeeper or responsible attorney? Whatever product you choose, make sure it has the ability to produce the reports you need.

Many billing systems offer integration with QuickBooks. If this is important to you it is essential you understand how they integrate and what they offer. Don’t just accept “we integrate with QuickBooks”. It is important to test and to talk to those using the product to understand what does and doesn’t transfer and how it transfers.

Can I use QuickBooks for my accounting needs? Probably. Should I use it for my billing? Probably not. While it is up to you to determine the best answer for your firm we are available to help. As an Advanced Certified QuickBooks Professional Advisor and a certified consultant on multiple billing solutions, we are happy to help you determine the best solution for your business. We specialize in helping with links and have developed guides for the links on several products. Call us at 203-254-7736 for your consultation.