Archive for Billing – Page 2

Another program is accessing your Sage Timeslips database in a way that prevents you from accessing it.

I often get calls asking how to fix this error in Timeslips. It’s not really a Timeslips problem per se, it’s really an issue of the path used to access the Timeslip.cfg file.
The most common causes of this message are:
1. Timeslips not installed properly to start with or was reinstalled with an incorrect path
2. A computer lost connectivity and the user received a message to locate the Timeslip.cfg file. When they did this they used a path that is different than what was originally used
3. Windows 7 – I have heard reports of Windows 7 seeming to change the path from one with a drive letter to UNC path (eg, \\server\apps\Timeslips).
4. Timeslips was installed on the server and TSTimer was installed. When the server was rebooted TSTimer started up and the path on the server is different than the workstations.
So, how you fix this….
First you need to identify the problem.
Check the server to make sure TSTimer is not running. If it is, change the preferences to make sure it doesn’t start automatically in the future. Then close TSTimer. You might want to also check MSConfig to make sure TSTimer is not set to autostart.
Next, on each workstation, one at a time, open Timeslips and go to help – about Timeslips. You will see an installation folder path and an application folder path. Make a note of the Installation folder. This needs to be the same on all computers, although the drive letter can be different. If you have computers running Windows 7 you should use UNC path names here (eg, \\Server\Applications\Timeslips\).
When you have identified the computer or computers that need to be “fixed”, close Timeslips and on that workstation go to Start – Programs – Timeslips – Station Administrator – Options – Change Install Path. Browse to the Timeslip.cfg file on the server using the path you noted above. When finished Ok your way out. Open Timeslips on that workstation and verify that the installation folder is now correct. Repeat on each workstation until they are all the same.
You should now be able to open Timeslips on all computers.

Switching Billing Matters Accounting to QuickBooks

With the sunset of Billing Matters Accounting, many firms are wondering what to do. The top two choices are

  1. Switch to Time Matters linked to PCLaw for billing and accounting
  2. Keep Time Matters and Billing Matters and link to QuickBooks for the accounting

For detailed help with the change process, please get our whitepaper at:

http://www.lexisnexis.com/law-firm-practice-management/documents/billing-matters-accounting-sunset.pdf

If you want personal assistance with the process, we are available to help. Please contact Caren at cschwartz@3545consulting.com

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/

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.

Amicus Attorney Coming Attractions

A two hour flight delay, circling while they plow the runway and a long delay for cabs as they struggled through poor road conditions to reach the airport – March in Toronto! While I like Toronto, March is not its best season. However, the poor travel conditions and cold weather didn’t deter the Gavel & Gown Conference held last week.

The conference was two days filled with information about the Gavel & Gown products. While learning more about the recently released Amicus Attorney 2011 Premium Edition and Amicus Attorney 2011 Small Firm Edition was interesting, I think the highlight was the announcement of Amicus Premium Billing.

Amicus Premium Billing

Amicus Premium Billing is a full function billing solution tightly integrated into Amicus Attorney 2011 Premium Edition. While it is not yet available, we hope to see it released soon. When you open Amicus Attorney 2011 Premium Edition with Amicus Premium Billing you get a second set of screens that are devoted to billing. You can quickly switch from the billing aspects to the practice management aspects of the program. If you are on the list of files and you switch to the billing tab you will see a list of your files with billing information including WIP, AR and Trust balances. The information you need for the billing part of your practice is immediately available, without even needing to run reports.

Billing is flexible and fairly powerful. If you want to run reports the program is reducing the use of crystal reports and focusing on the easier to use SQL Reporting Services. For accounting, Amicus Premium Billing will link to QuickBooks. Since QuickBooks is the dominant player in the United States, this makes sense and is what many accountants prefer. However, those in Canada will find that the program does not link to the Canadian version of QuickBooks. In addition the link only supports cash or modified cash basis accounting. Form most US based law firms, this is not an issue. For those not using QuickBooks or located outside the US, Amicus Premium Billing will provide reports that list the journal entries to be posted.

At this time Amicus Premium Billing does not offer support for e-billing, but that will be added in the future. The program is only available for Amicus Attorney 2011 Premium Edition. Gavel & Gown will continue to support Amicus Accounting for Amicus Attorney Small Firm Edition users and for those looking for a single billing and accounting solution. A release date has not been set as it is still in the testing stage.

Date Commitments

The lack of date commitments was another interesting “theme” of the conference. While somewhat frustrating, in many ways it is very welcome. I’ve grown weary of software companies promising something will release by a certain date and then either missing the date or getting something out in time to meet the committed date, but without achieving the quality that is important to the users. Ron Collins, founder and CEO, appears ready to make sure the quality is there before the products are released and is therefore not willing to commit to dates “just because”.

Cedenza

For those consultants who had not seen it previously we got a good look at Credenza. We also got to see some of the enhancements that will be coming soon. If you have not heard about it, Credenza is practice management software integrated into Outlook. It is a SaaS (software as a service) solution that you pay for on a monthly basis. It can be purchased for an individual or a team. You can see an overview video by going to www.credenzasoft.com. If you would like more information or a demonstration, please contact me at caren@timeandcents.com.

There’s lot going on in Toronto and at Gavel & Gown. The conference content was well worth the travel and contending with the cold and I look forward to providing you with more information as announcements are made.