“Because that is the way I have always done it.”

by Alexa Drago on January 23, 2018

By Michelle Motyka

As a consultant, I hear this from clients I work with every day.  When we are implementing a practice management, document management, or time, billing, and accounting system, we spend a lot of time asking questions to obtain a good understanding of what is being done now so we can translate that into the new system – and, hopefully, make it more efficient.

Are you still hand writing your time entries, or dictating them, for someone else to enter?

Is your assistant still typing your time entries into your billing system in all caps?

Are you still sending all your client invoices by snail mail?

Is someone on your staff printing out a document to take it to the scanner to scan back into a pdf?

Do you forward an email to your assistant to have it printed and put in the paper file?

Is there time and effort being spent creating labels for Redwelds that are very rarely used because you are mostly paperless?

When I receive an affirmative response to questions like these  — I ask the question “why” and receive the response that this is “how it has always been done.”  Many of these practices are holdovers from a time when there were no options to do it differently, or more efficiently, and no one has found the time to question “why” and make some changes.  Frequently, it is also about software upgrades that occurred, and no one has received any training on what new features are available within those upgrades since the system was originally put in place back in 2003.

Taking a hard look at procedures and contemplating making some changes is not something that needs to wait until you are selecting a new software program. These conversations are helpful at any time.  These antiquated procedures are costing you money that you do not need to spend, and creating busy work for many people at the firm that keeps them from working on what truly matters – and, what you can actually bill for!

Some tips for starting this process:

  • Find out what your staff is doing and ask them what is frustrating to them or what they feel could be done better. Listen for what is not being said as there are people who will resist change at all costs.
  • Find out what your software can do. If you use a practice management and/or time, billing, and accounting system that has been in place a long time, find someone to tell you what it can do now that it could not do the last time you received training.
  • Find out if there are software programs, apps, or equipment out there that can help you with some of the inefficiencies. Some examples might be desktop scanners that link into your project management system, a pdf program which can bates number and create pdf binders of multiple documents, an app which allows you to enter your time from your mobile devices, or using a credit card vendor which integrates directly with your billing and accounting system.
  • Find an expert to look at your procedures, talk to your staff, and give you an overall plan for making your firm more efficient.

 

 

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