There are a number of different practice management systems on the market these days. Some are better than others. Law firm managers and senior staff become quickly and acutely aware if the practice management software in use is not fit for purpose. Poor software can make tasks take longer, result in errors being made and, most importantly, lead to a frustrated workforce.
Good practice management software is imperative for a law firm that wants to ensure that their staff can work effectively, flexibly and with minimal errors. The hallmarks of good practice management software, are that it will:
1) Save Time
Look for a software system that can be personalised so that each member of staff can quickly and easily access information related to their role. In addition, a system which allows electronic processes to replace traditional paper exchanges is good for efficiency and the environment and can streamline the performance of your entire firm.
2) Improve Billing Performance
Your solicitors’ chargeable hours should be accurately and easily recorded. Good management systems will also enable bills to be generated accurately automatically. A management system which is designed with a full appreciation of the needs of a law firm will also provide for the management of daily accounts from the same system. Dealing with tedious tasks such as chits, disbursements and monies in and out should all be easily reconciled with the correct client account or even done automatically.
3) Provide Enhanced Risk Management
Some practice management software systems will now perform tasks that will enable senior managers at law firms to relax just a little bit more, as they will ensure that client care and accounts are being dealt with in compliance with SRA, HMRC, LAA and Lexcel requirements. Systems such as the Quill legal practice management software will also carry out conflict, duplicate and even money-laundering checks, ensuring that you can be confident due diligence is being taken care of.
4) Enable Flexible Working
As employees are increasingly requiring flexible working to ensure that family and other commitments can be met, it is imperative for forward-thinking law firms to use a system that can assist. They need software that enables users to log in online through a secure connection to gain access to a centralised database. Such a system will also suit firms that have are based at multiple locations and ensure that information is disseminated evenly throughout the firm.
5) Be Secure
As law firms handle confidential and sensitive material daily, managers will want to ensure that they can rely on the security provided by the software installed. Check where the content is going to be stored – this may also have an impact on the cost of your system. Does it use cloud-based storage? This may provide the most flexibility for your firm.
6) Be Reliable
An IT issue in the middle of the day can cause chaos within a law firm, creating unwanted stress for all members of staff, and sometimes resulting in a huge inconvenience for clients. It is definitely an issue to be avoided. Practice management software systems that are managed by the provider can mean that the technical side of things will almost never be an issue by ensuring that you suffer minimal IT disruption and receive non-stop support from an expert technical team.
7) Allow Creativity and Personalisation
Some software systems are more rigid than others. To ensure that workflows are working as they should, some software packages can allow you to design your individual workflows. In turn, this can ensure that business growth is supported and encouraged rather than suppressed by inflexible work strategies. A system which provides management performance and tracking reports with bespoke options can ensure that as well as creating better workflows, the existing performance levels of your staff and their workflows can be used to help you identify development opportunities.
8) Be Integrated
A practice management software system that is also linked to emails and calendars and can store various files, ranging from PDFs to Word documents can ensure that as staff follow their workflows, they can do so seamlessly. Provided that the system is sufficiently simple to use, and that all relevant information is captured on each client file, this can also massively increase efficiency. The aim of such a system is to ensure that those days when you are searching for a lost piece of correspondence are a thing of the past. Some systems will also provide a digital dictation feature. Recordings can be automatically assigned to a file – again ensuring that lost tapes are a thing of the past.