usb flash drive on white background. Isolated 3D imageWelcome to day 7. We’re almost one-fourth of the way to a more profitable law firm. Yesterday we discussed how lawyers can increase productivity by improving information flow. You’re going to need to this productivity in order to maximize your time as business grows in your office. Today’s discussion is going to be very short as we’re going to continue reducing that profit-depleting administrative time by further improving your information flow.

Yesterday we discussed why you should move to Google Apps. We utilized Google Contacts, along with an app called Ginza Contacts, to ensure that you’re keeping all contact information related to a client and his case in one place. No more having the client in a contact manager and keeping a separate Word Document with names of witnesses, etc. Also, all of that information will be accessible from anywhere, and any device, at any time.

Lawyers can reduce administrative time by reducing data entry and the number of vendors they deal with

We’ve already saved time by keeping all your contact information in one place. Now ask yourself, how much time does your office spend inputting clients into accounting software and then putting them into billing software just before you put them into case management software? To make matters worse, when one of those clients changes their information now you have to change it in multiple places. After doing all that you have to deal with multiple vendors just to make your office run. Let’s simplify all this and speed up other processes we’ll discuss in a moment.

Now that you’ve set up Google Apps and migrated your data into it, it’s time to set up Quickbooks Online for accounting/invoicing and Harvest for your time tracking. You are also going to sign up an app called Zapier which allows these other applications to “talk to each other.” Once your IT person has configured these apps, you’ll find the flow of information greatly simplified. Let’s look at how this synergy works.

Once you enter/edit a client in Google Contacts their information will be available in Harvest and Quickbooks. No more entering information in multiple places. Harvest allows you to easily generate invoices to clients and these invoices are synced and sent out through Quickbooks Online. This invoice will go out to your client and Quickbooks allows them to easily pay it online. This gets money flowing to your firm since data shows that an average invoice is paid 16 days earlier than normal when online payment options are enabled[i]. In other words, you have an online payment option, accounting solution, and time-tracking/billing software all tied together in one place and your client data flows straight from your contact manager.

quickbooks online logoQuickbooks offers payroll and credit card processing services that you should sign up as well. The payroll service is a “complete solution” that manages all of your payroll tax filings/withholding, etc. and replaces a company such as ADP. The credit card processing solution replaces your current option (whether it’s the bank, Square, or any other service). So in addition to reducing the amount of time you spend inputting and re-inputting data we’ve simplified your practice by reducing the total number of vendors you deal with.

Consider how much time your office currently spends on simple data entry and/or switching between different programs to look up information. Now consider how much time can be saved if you reduce the number of vendors you deal with; remember we just consolidated your accounting, payroll, credit card processing, and online payment options all into one place.

Between yesterday and today we’ve flattened your workflow substantially. This is going to save you a substantial amount of administrative time which, in turn, is going to save you money.

Day 7 action items for attorneys wishing to increase profits

Reducing your administrative time is an important step in freeing yourself from the outdated attorney business model. Improved data flow and consolidation is going to reduce the massive amount of time you’re wasting and, like many attorneys, don’t even realize it. Since you set up Google Apps and Ginza Contacts yesterday, it’s time to do the following:

  1. Sign up Zapier so your various apps will be able to tie together.
  2. Sign up Harvest for your time tracking software and import your data into it.
  3. Sign up Quickbooks Online. Use this service for accounting, payroll, online invoicing, and credit card processing.
  4. Get rid of services that are now duplicative, such as your current credit card processor and payroll processing provider.

Tomorrow we’ll begin using video in your practice as a way of quickly getting more clients.

[i] http://www.getharvest.com/features/invoicing