What should lawyers look for when choosing a cloud-based practice management program?
Cloud-based practice management programs bring a host of benefits: automatic updates and upgrades, anywhere and anytime access, increased collaboration, easy to locate clients documents and notes and more. But choosing the right program for your firm should be a consideration of features and fit to make sure you’re getting the maximum benefit.
Before you look for a program, list out the current issues your firm is having and what features or tools you think could solve them.
If you’re spending a lot of time on billing, maybe you want to create automations to create invoices faster. If you find that you’re always forgetting to enter billable time, a program that lets you put in time from anywhere could be helpful. If you have trouble finding client documents and email communication, maybe you want them all housed in one place.
When you start to evaluate programs, you can see then look at their features and see how they stack up against your needs and wants list for features.
Integrated accounting and billing
Decide if you’d like a program that also includes billing and accounting. When these systems are tied together, it often eliminates double data entry and reduces the possibility of input errors.
Many accounting programs offer integrations to practice management programs, but be sure to check what information is passed between them. Not all integrations are the same, and it doesn’t necessarily mean all the data you need will be brought over. Additionally, be sure to check for legal-specific features that can help make sure you’re adhering to trust accounting and compliance requirements.
Find out what type security is used. Cloud-based programs offer the benefit of not having to worry about security and data management as those are all handled by the provider. However, lawyers have a duty to be sure any software or program they use is adequately protected.
Here are a few sample questions you could ask:
- Is your data stored in transit or just at rest?
- Can we export data from your system?
- How is information backed-up? And is it redundant?
Get a trial
Nearly every practice management program offers you the ability to use a trial. Take advantage! Before you bring over all your data and commit fully, it can be helpful to make sure you’re comfortable with the interface, features and what it can offer with first-hand experience.
Keep in mind that it will likely take some time to get used to the new program. It may seem awkward or difficult to navigate at first, but as you get more comfortable with it, it will eventually become indispensable.
Choosing the right practice management program isn’t a fast decision. It’s worth putting in the time to make sure you’re selecting the right program that will have the biggest positive impact on your firm.