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    This blog is sponsored by Smart Time Apps. Our flagship product, Smart Time, is an all-in-one time management platform for attorneys, accountants and consultants. The Smart Time on-demand time capture and time entry application enables firms to effectively collect, track and recoup billable time, thereby increasing revenue and profitability. Our mobile apps enable you to do timekeeping anywhere, anytime.

    In this blog we will share our thoughts on timekeeping, industry best practices and how technology can help improve the process.

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Top 5 Things to Look for When Selecting a Mobile Time Entry System

If we’ve learned one thing about the mobile revolution, it is that it is ever changing (and usually rapidly so). When you’re searching for the right mobile solution for time entry, be certain you’re investing in a system that is agile, easy and up-to-date.

Here we’ll offer our top tips for “must-haves” that will make your mobile time entry system a joy to use.

1.   Start Small, Grow Big

The idea here is that you’ll be able to implement a system quickly, with little lag time between purchase and going live. Make sure the product can scale up for growing numbers of users and capabilities as your needs change.

Also, involve your users from the start. Product deployment only works when end users like the product and find it easy and intuitive to use. As you roll out a pilot program, include a sample of actual users from all departments, and take their feedback seriously. If you do, you’ll achieve wider and faster adoption.

2.   Implementation Options

Get it your way. Want the mobile system be installed on-premises behind your firewall? Or, do you prefer to have it in the cloud? Or maybe you’d like a hybrid solution that is partly on-premises and partly in the cloud?

Whichever way you want, make sure that security and safety of data is always the highest priority. Vendors accomplish this in a number of ways, including independent certification by industry-standards bodies, data protection schemas, firewalls, and encryption of in-transit data.

Finally, make sure the vendor’s product update delivery process is as agile as your business. As your business grows, your needs are bound to change. Ensure the product is designed to deliver new capabilities quickly and seamlessly, without affecting your budget.

3.  Highly Configurable

No matter the system, it must be flexible, highly configurable and powerful enough to meet the demands of any organization without having to undertake customization.

Ask if the application allows you to configure your time entry screen to match the requirements of your time and billing system? Besides date, client, matter, hours and narrative, can you configure other fields that you might need? For example, phase, task, action, activity, location and jurisdiction codes?

4.   Tight Integration to the Backend Accounting System

You’ll want any solution to tightly integrate with your time and billing system.

Also, ask: Can it look up clients and matters? Can it reach into the time and billing system to determine if a phase task is required and then only present valid phase task options? Can the mobile solution see all time entries in the accounting system of record and present them in a calendar so the user can see where they stand for the month? How easy is it to insert records from the mobile system to the accounting system?

All of these must be addressed to create a fluid, error-free environment for both users and the admin group supporting the app.

5.  An Intuitive Product Design and Experience

Ease of use is so necessary and obvious that it might be ignored—don’t let it be. The user experience is critical to the adoption and success of any new product. When evaluating user experience, look at every interaction you have with your vendor and product. How easy was it to try out and purchase the product? Was implementation fast and easy? Is the end user’s experience intuitive and even fun?

When you step into the marketplace for a mobile time entry system, make sure you have these top 5 “must-haves” on your radar when selecting a new system.