Please read the following article if you need help in handling payments after they are synced from TimeSolv to QuickBooks.
Posted by: TimeSolv Support
Please read the following article if you need help in handling payments after they are synced from TimeSolv to QuickBooks.
As a lawyer, one of the required tasks for managing client funds and billing is Trust Accounting. Each state has its own laws and legal requirements, and failing to follow all of them can have detrimental consequences. The field itself continues to evolve each year, making those who practice within it constantly at risk of falling foul of not keeping up with current regulations and legal requirements. There are a number of Trust Accounting best practices that can help reduce the risk of mismanagement when undertaking these types of accounts.
The majority of federal rules that apply come from the Uniform Principal and Income Act. One of the major things to be aware of is that there are differences between fiduciary accounting income (FAI) and federal taxable income. There are different types of terms used for these accounts (IOLTA, Trust Account and Escrow Account are often interchangeable).
Rules for these accounts are very similar, even if the reasons for them differ. Here are the basic rules:
Some of the unifying best practices include the following:
For many law firms, management of Trust Accounts is a major administrative task. Hiring bookkeepers or an accountant is not enough at times to protect yourself from the hazards of mismanagement of Trust Accounts. Funds held for clients must be kept completely separate from the firm’s operational funds. Breaking the rules of managing these accounts (which vary by state) can cause major financial auditing nightmares.
“Simple Mistakes” and oversights in trust accounts are more than annoyances. They can lead to severe disciplinary action or disbarment for the lawyer in charge of the account. One thing remains constant across the board, lawyers need to know the rules that apply to management of Trust Accounts. Not knowing the changes as they happen will not be a defense if the State Bar finds you violating rules. If your state requires a yearly Trust Accounting Certificate, make sure to check practices so that your firm is clear of infractions.
For easy to use trust accounting with an easy and affordable time and billing solution, please contact TimeSolv Corporation at www.timesolv.com.
Any legal or project billing solution provides abundant reports to view billing and time entry data. Many times TimeSolv support gets a call from a prospect or client that they want some specific view of the data. What we are recommending is that instead of looking at the data and the reports and trying to figure out how to use it, define the business problem that needs to be solved. If a report provides data that is interesting but not actionable, it does not provide much business value.
Bottom line is that in business, actions drive success or failure. Just having information and dwelling over information which is not tied to a business decision would not provide much value and could even be a waste of time.
Instead of focusing on the data for decision-making, we recommend that a firm decide what business decisions we need to make as a firm which will be driven by the billing, profitability, or revenue of the firm. For example, a typical business decision based on billing information is compensation of professionals.
TimeSolv provides 25 plus reports that can be used by firm to make business decisions. Each report in TimeSolv can be viewed in several different formats such as MS Word, MS Excel, PDF, CSV, HTML, etc.
Once your firm has decided upon the business decisions that it needs to make driven by the billing information, please e-mail them to support@TimeSolv.com and will be happy to assist you in making use of the appropriate reports to support your business decisions.
For a robust legal and project billing solution and accurate accounting, it is important that hard costs and soft costs are accounted separately.
Hard costs are expenses incurred on behalf of a client that require a direct payment by the firm to a vendor. For example if a firm writes a check for a court filing fee, it is considered a hard cost.
Soft costs are expenses that are charged to the client but a direct payment is not made to a vendor. For example, if a firm charges for photocopies using their own photocopy machine, they did not pay a vendor directly for those specific copies.
Why it matters? From an accounting perspective, hard costs are considered expenses and can be directly deducted from the income. Soft costs are considered income and are only offset by the depreciation and recurring equipment cost.
Use TimeSolv and QuickBooks for accurate accounting of hard and soft costs
TimeSolv’s billing solution provides the option to categorize expenses specific to your business needs. For example, your expenses may include categories such as travel, copies, meals, postage etc. Since hard and soft costs are required for accounting and not for billing, each cost item and expense category from TimeSolv would be mapped to a hard cost or a soft cost expense item in QuickBooks. Expense items in QuickBooks are then configured to point to a hard cost or a soft costs account.
Most professional service firms such as law firms consider billing as an essential obligation to collect their fees. Professionals are rightly more focused on providing services to their clients than on billing. However, the firm collects their fees by effectively billing for their hours to their customers. The primary issue is that in most firms, senior partners or managers only look at draft invoices to determine if the firm has adequately collected for the work performed. If they notice that a client is not being billed as expected, they may ask the billing administrator to contact timekeepers and determine if additional time was billed on a particular case.
Invoice creation for the majority of firms is a monthly cycle and it makes sense because it is how most businesses and people pay their bills. However, the issue is with reviewing billable hours only at the time of monthly invoicing. Time is of the essence in capturing missing time. The time elapsed between when a timekeeper logs their time and when their time gets invoiced is typically 30 or more days. In some cases it is longer because firms invoice some clients on a quarterly basis.
To ensure that your timekeepers are capturing all their hours, please consider taking the following steps:
For professional service firms, time is money. However, in most cases time is not treated as real dollars. It is okay to have a two-hour lunch but an equivalent $500 expense would require senior partner’s approval. The best policy is to start treating time as real money. By having a written time entry policy, a firm shows their commitment that time is money. A written time entry policy will change the culture of the firm. The policy will cover some of the advice listed below regarding when time should be captured and when missing time would be recovered.
Once time has been captured, it is like money in the bank. By separating the time tracking process from the billing process, your firm would reduce the time elapsed between time entries and invoice creation. Billing admin would not be scrambling to obtain additional hours from associates when a senior partner believes that not all the hours are included on a draft invoice.
If timekeepers check the total for each day before they go home, it is very easy for them to know how long they were at work and see if all their time has been captured. Timekeepers that do not enter their time every day typically wait till 5 PM on Friday to make sure that their hours add up to 40 hours for the week. Due to personal pressures to leave work on time on Fridays and to make sure that it looks like the timekeeper has worked full-time, a timekeeper is bound to estimate their prior activities to fill their time sheets. This guessing game can be drastically reduced if the timekeeper entered their time on a daily basis. Most of the professionals work more than 40 hours a week. If time is being captured on a daily basis, their weekly total would reflect the hours that they have worked rather than just add up to 40 hours.
Again, since time is money, it should be accounted the same way as firms account for money. By knowing where all the time is being spent, senior partners can make appropriate decisions to realize more of the billable time. In some firms, professionals perform low value activities that can easily be performed by a lower paid person or it can be outsourced because it is non-core function that does not add value to the firm.
This step again emphasizes the need to separate capturing of time from billing activities. If the billing admin could review missing time every Monday for the previous week, they can easily work with the timekeepers to capture missing time. Again elapsed time is of the essence. Typically the billing admin waits for feedback from a senior partner after they have reviewed the draft invoice to figure out if a particular project or matter is missing time. The billing admin then would talk to the timekeeper and make sure that the timekeeper updates their time entries to capture missing time.
Imagine the efficiencies gained when all the time has been correctly captured and it takes minimal amount of review by senior partners because they trust the billing process and know that the billing admin has been reviewing all the time entries every week. This weekly activity spreads the effort over the month and first of the week does not become crunch time for anyone to complete the billing.
After the review of time every Monday, wouldn’t it be great to close out the previous weeks’ time entries? This closeout process would let timekeepers know that they do not have an option to go back and modify their entries for the prior weeks. Again these actions create a working culture where time tracking is taken very seriously.
And finally, if your business allows for it, pay timekeepers on commission. Please note that the commission should be based on funds received and not on just how much has been billed. If the work performed by an associate does not result in funds received, compensating them based on amount billed can be a money losing proposition for the firm. Commission-based compensation can be as low as 5% to 10% of funds collected but would result in a significant increase in billable time.
TimeSolv provides specific features to help you achieve the above mentioned advice to easily capture time.
Since we want to make sure that timekeepers are easily entering their time, TimeSolv provides multiple options to make sure that every timekeeper is able to enter their time from any place at any time. Time and expenses can be entered with the Internet, without the Internet, or on mobile devices. Amongst the three options, we recommend the TimeSync application because it works on your Windows or Macintosh computers with or without the Internet.
TimeSync does not require timekeepers to login every time. In addition it has an easy-to-use timer, built-in spell check, and easy-to-use narrative replacement codes. See more details at http://www.timesolv.com/timesync.html.
Missing time report can be delivered to the billing admin or any recipient to review the missing time entries. This report can be delivered to each timekeeper for self-policing also.
Go to reports, click on notifications tab and schedule the missing time report. In this example, missing time report will be delivered on Monday showing any missing time from the required eight hours for all timekeepers for the previous week on a daily basis.
To enforce the policy of requiring all time entries should be finalized by Friday of each week, every Monday billing admin would enter the date of prior Friday as the closing date. Go to Administration and Firm settings.
To enforce the policy requiring that timekeepers enter all their time on a daily basis, by default TimeSolv clearly shows each timekeeper their total of entered time for the day. In the example below, a timekeeper would easily know that they have put in eight hours for the day before they go home.
One of the important tools to monitor effectiveness of your firm’s billing is the Invoice and Work in Progress (WIP) Aging report. This report clearly identifies if you are able to bill and collect money for work performed. It shows both unpaid bills and unbilled time. Basically it shows how much is owed by customers as bills and as unbilled time and for how long.
TimeSolv provides a robust commission reporting capability based on funds collected. Commission is prorated based upon work performed by a timekeeper, managing the work performed by a timekeeper as a manager, and for bringing in a case as an originating attorney.
Example of revenue and commissions report showing commission on a discounted invoice.
Posted by: TimeSolv Support
Multiple updates have been deployed based on customer inputs.
1- Net Investment Report, name of report changed to Invoice and WIP Aging with an option to exclude non-billable time or expenses
The Invoice and WIP (Work in Progress) Aging report shows how much money is invested by the firm in a client with aging of invoices and WIP. Since Non-billable time and expenses will not be collected, users can exclude them from the WIP.
2- Time Cards Report – title and initials column on CSV output
Some firms need to run reports by titles to see how time is being spent by a particular type of employee. By using Pivot Tables in Excel, a user can easily view the CSV output of Time Cards report and total the time by title of a timekeeper. Timekeeper titles can be entered by going to Administration, Staff, click on a user-name and enter title on the lower right of the Profile tab.
3- Reports – AR report driven by As-Of-Date
Customers needed the AR report by As-Of-Date. The As-Of-Date filters on debit dates, i.e. invoice and opening balance dates and credits, i.e. payments, credit memos, or write off dates. The same date fields apply for including WIP and Trust Payments.
I am using TimeSolv www.timesolv.com for timekeeping, invoicing, trust accounting, client costs and payments. It downloads into Quickbooks. It works perfectly on my iPad. The company is fantastic with customer service; they even trained my bookkeeper on a Saturday (remotely). The company trains each user and is available for questions and more training. Actually, the company is more available than I am. When I call with a question, someone usually calls me back several times before I manage to find time to respond. Very attentive.
I’ve mentioned here before that I am capturing far more time than before I switched. TimeSolv is multi-user, multi-platform because it’s a web application. Fees can be different for each timekeeper and/or each client. Highly customizable. The invoices are detailed and professional, and automatically include past invoices, payment history and trust fund payments. No need for statements with this level of detail. The company is willing to hear from its customers re future improvements.
By Brett van Zyl, digital marketing solutions
In the current business landscape the focus is on cutting costs while operating at maximum efficiency. Outsourcing has become a viable solution for most businesses and law firms are no exception.
Many firms have opted to fully outsource their billing functions to legal cost consultants in an effort to cut costs while gaining access to the knowledge and expertise that they offer. Some smaller law firms don’t have the manpower and resources larger firms enjoy. This is where legal billing software can provide an answer.
There was a time when legal professionals had no choice but to draft their own bills of cost. Paper work, filing and spreadsheet programs were the order of the day. For a law firm the preparation and taxation of bills was a time consuming and tedious task. Thankfully, technological developments have helped to simplify the process.
Why use legal billing software?
Monitoring and capturing billable hours are a significant part of the legal profession. The competitive nature of the industry means that lawyers don’t have enough time to produce invoices and capture billable hours. Legal billing software is designed to solve these problems. Here are some benefits that legal billing programs offer:
1.) It allows you to create client and contact lists. This makes it easy for you to keep track of time spent on individual clients and tasks and generate bills accordingly.
2.) Secure online access means you can update records from any computer with an internet connection.
3.) It’s user friendly. Proficiently designed legal billing software is easy to set up and requires limited training to use.
4.) Data can be retrieved instantly. Paper work filing used to be the order of the day. This system worked but documents would often be misplaced and information lost. Legal billing software solves this by maintaining electronic records of your client’s information. These programs also have search capabilities that helps you access information faster by typing in keywords.
5.) Legal billing software has sophisticated password protection measures in place to ensure that personal and financial details are kept safe. Billing software also provides a backup system in the event that data is corrupted or lost.
6.) Billing multiple clients becomes easy. Storing and keeping track of information using spreadsheet and office packages will become more challenging as your client base increases. Billing software solves this problem by making it easier to keep records of financial details and bills can be generated at the touch of a button.
7.) One of the key advantages of legal billing software is automation. If you’re providing legal services to the same clients each month the software can be set up to automatically generate invoices for those clients. If one attorney at you firm charges a different fee to the next or if certain tasks carry a different fee, the software can be adjusted to automatically reflect the different rates when bills are generated.
Probably the most significant benefit of legal billing software is the amount of time and resources you’ll save that would normally be spent on drafting bills. Although correct interpretation of the data will depend on the accuracy of the data entered by the person, actual calculation and production of the invoices is done by the program. This reduces the likelihood of billing errors. This means shorter turnaround time for collections and increased productivity.
Posted by: TimeSolv Support
We are using TimeSolv http://www.timesolv.com for our small firm. It’s a cloud application so any of us can access it from wherever we are, and our bookkeeper can access it from her office. Password protected, of course, and you can specify that some users have limited access to the information.
TimeSolv allows for multiple timekeepers; detailed, lengthy descriptions of services; multiple billing rates (per client, per timekeeper, per service, or any combination); unlimited timers; professional-looking invoices and statements; integrated trust accounting; integrated client costs billing; multiple platforms (PC, Mac, etc.); works perfectly with my iPad.
Learning curve is not bad at all. TimeSolv staff trains each new customer individually and is readily available for questions and guidance. There is extensive on-line help.
Cost is per user, per month, though non-lawyer staff does not cost more. I paid for two years at one time and negotiated a nice discount. One month free trial.
We capture so much more time that TimeSolv has more than paid for itself already, and we’ve only been using if for five months.