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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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Smart Time Apps Announces Case Study Featuring Meyers Nave

Campbell, CA – October 6, 2014 – Smart Time Apps, the provider of Smart Time, today announced the availability of its latest case study, which centers on California-based firm Meyers Nave and its experience implementing Smart Time.

Click here to download the case study.

Smart Time is an all-in-one timekeeping platform for law, accounting and professional services firms. The Smart Time timekeeping platform includes time entry, time capture and mobile modules. Any one of the modules can be installed independently or together to create a complete timekeeping platform. Smart Time enables firms to effectively collect, track and recoup billable time, thereby increasing revenue and profitability.

“Smart Time has a lot of intrinsic features I really like,” said Matt Reynolds, top technologist at Meyers Nave. “We recently completed the implementation, and we already can see a positive effect on the bottom line. Attorneys are spending less time building their time chit, and more time practicing law.”

“This is the second firm Matt has introduced to Smart Time, and we’re pleased to have another example of the ways in which Smart Time benefits firms almost immediately,” said Smart Time Apps co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Todd Gerstein. “This case study again demonstrates Smart Time’s ability to achieve greater revenue, less pain and total mobility for its users.”

About Smart Time Apps

Smart Time Apps creates software solutions that maximize profits for law, accounting and professional services firms. Our flagship product, Smart Time, is an all-in-one time management platform. Our team of experts specializes in finance, accounting, marketing, process engineering and technology. We utilize best-of-breed technologies, as well as the most advanced tools and production processes. We have built a dedicated team, who offer solutions that are unique in the industry. Smart Time Apps is privately held and is headquartered in Campbell, California. http://www.smartwebparts.com.

Whitepaper: The Power of Time Capture Automation

Imagine a world where every timekeeper in your firm:

  • had perfect recall when they prepared their timesheets;
  • booked all hours worked; and
  • prepared complete and accurate timesheets with the least amount of effort.

This is not a pipe dream. This is what time capture automation can do for your firm.

To learn more, we invite you to read our whitepaper – The Power of Time Capture Automation.

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In the whitepaper you’ll learn:

  • What is leaked time?
  • Which common work situations do most people forget to bill?
  • How much revenue can be recovered?

Ready to learn more about time capture technology? Click here to download the whitepaper.

Smart Time Case Study: Howard Rice

One-on-One with Matthew Reynolds, Chief Information Officer

Matthew Reynolds, Chief Information Officer for Howard Rice in San Francisco, was one of Smart Time’s “early adopters.” Since implementation, the firm’s attorneys have been especially enjoying the one-click, single view of how they’ve spent their time. As for Matthew, he tells us he’s impressed enough that he is considering recommending Smart Time’s Enterprise solution for time entry.

Why implement a time capture solution? 

For us, it was easy, because we were able to implement it as the firm underwent a rather dramatic revision to its time entry policy, which essentially compressed the period that timekeepers had to get time recorded into our legacy time entry system.  Smart Time became a tool we could offer to help them achieve this.

Another reason was my technological interest. Essentially, Smart Time brings multiple sources of data into a single view for timekeepers, and there’s no other product on the market that does that. And not only that, but as we bring on systems that may be of interest, it gives me the ability to add to that view. Smart WebParts has done a good job of making sure their system is nimble.

One of the things I had been doing prior to implementation of Smart Time was talking to timekeepers — especially the mid-level associate  — about their struggles in time entry. I know everyone manages their time differently, and I wanted to be able to deliver all of their calendared events, emails and documents to them. The timekeepers agreed this was appealing.

Like any other law firm, we have leaked time, and our time is only as good as the attorney’s memory or chicken scratch notes or what they’ve entered into Outlook. I wanted to close that gap as much as I possibly could. Hence, we implemented Smart Time.

What are the key benefits of the system for the attorneys?

I think it’s a tickler system. Generally, once you go into Smart Time, you can see what you’ve forgotten. You might see that last week you had a teleconference call, and it was a 15-minute conversation that came in from a client, and if you didn’t make a note, that call could easily not get recorded. In those instances, Smart Time has been impressive, capturing small but incremental billing elements.

It also allows a timekeeper to build a more complete time chit, which more accurately reflects the billed time and the services provided. 

Tell us about your viral deployment.

We’ve had Smart Time for over a year—we were one of the early adopters. At the time, I was quite enthusiastic about it, and was also enthusiastic on behalf of the timekeepers, but a decision had been made not to implement Smart Time enterprise-wide for all the timekeepers as we normally would with something like Word or Outlook.

It was just a different type of implementation. I had to put on my marketing cap and go talk to timekeepers,attorneys and legal assistants. What I found is that it was a grassroots effort: if you have Attorney A talking about this wonderful mousetrap, then Attorney B and C will want to check out that mousetrap as well, and that’s essentially what’s happened with the timekeepers.

What features do the attorneys like best? 

Receiving a daily journal report and running their own time capture  queries are the big hits with our attorneys.  Sure, they can easily look in their inbox and sent items, but there’s no other interface that allows them to see in a single window, in chronological order, all the emails, the documents they’ve touched, their calendar, and they can look at all these things concurrently.  From my lens, that functionality adds value to our attorneys. In a single click you can get all the information you want, and probably even more than you want.

Yes, you can get the same information elsewhere, but you’ll have to spend several clicks and you have to enter some data. This optimizes their time far more.

Now, not everyone uses it week in and week out. If you have an attorney who is working on a single case and researching it for three weeks, they know what they’ve been doing and don’t need to check Smart Time.

Where I see the activity is when you have several matters up in the air, and you’re billing several small time chits within a week’s time, and here Smart Time is second to none. You can quickly and easily review the relevant data sources for that period of time or you can parse it. You can look at just the calendar, calls in or out, documents you’ve touched or emails you’ve sent in an uneventful manner

So the timekeepers who are using the system like this primarily rely on it not to build the time chit but to supplement the time chit they’ve just entered—just to cement the information that’s being recorded and ultimately billed.

What do you think of the new user interface?

The Silverlight interface is much improved. What we’re finding is a clean, sophisticated, good-looking interface. The timekeepers also like that it’s customizable. Silverlight has also dramatically improved Smart Time’s overall performance and speed.

Has the system increased booked hours? 

That should be easy to answer, but it’s not. It’s not as if I can put a firmwide survey out to get feedback. There are a few timekeepers who use it without fail: its part of their time construction process. Others use it a couple of times a month, depending on what they’re working on.

Timekeeping in the law firm is a big challenge. Smart Time assists in closing that gap. I don’t think it will close the gap completely, but it’s a terrific and easy-to-use tool.

What else can you say about Smart WebParts?

One thing is clear to me: the market is changing in the time entry space with fewer vendors. Smart WebParts has survived, and I do think we’re going to see some vendors percolate to the top.  Later this year the firm will be in the throes of a time and billing upgrade and a likely period when Smart Time’s internal use will not only strengthen, but expand in terms of timekeepers. 

Smart WebParts has a distinct advantage in that they write their own software from the ground-up and can take into consideration some of the strengths of the other time entry products. There’s no other product on the market that brings information from multiple repositories—from the BES, Document Management and Exchange servers—and now they’re taking it to the next step. Not only can they bring in this information that is stored in other databases, but they’re going to allow you to enter time from Smart Time in their new enterprise edition. That will be our next phase for testing and further affirm the implementation of Smart Time

Todd Gerstein (Smart WebParts founder) and all the other players are  strong contributors and visionaries when it comes to capturing and recording billable time in the legal industry. Todd has been in the industry long enough, and knows a lot about time entry and the workflow of attorneys. I believe their product adds value to all firms where recording billable time is paramount.  It’s not just about recording time, but recording time that accurately reflects the services provided. 

About Howard Rice

Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin, P.C. is a San Francisco law firm with leading national and international practices, representing entities and individuals across a comprehensive range of practice areas. Our clients are among the most sophisticated consumers of legal services and include: Beverages & more!; The Charles Schwab Corporation; Citigroup Global Markets Inc.; Clear Channel Communications; The Clorox Company; Digital River, Inc.; Google, Inc.; Hewlett-Packard Company; JP Morgan Chase & Co.; The New York Times Company; The Oakland Raiders; PMI Mortgage Insurance Co.; Recology (formerly Norcal Waste Systems); Regents of the University of California; Renesas Electronics Corporation; UBS; The United States Olympic Committee; and Wells Fargo & Company. For more information, please visit www.howardrice.com.


Smart Time Case Study: Herbert Geer

One-on-One with Tom Haslam, Chief Innovation Officer

Tom Haslam, Chief Innovation Officer for Herbert Geer in Australia has been using Smart Time at his firm for just under a year. Smart WebParts recently talked to Tom, who says it has successfully met his targets for finding billable units of time, making timekeeping easier for attorneys and support staff, and for improving timesheet accuracy.

What were the business drivers for implementing a time capture solution? 

Our primary driver was to insure we rendered accurate client invoices. Smart Time facilitates the process by providing the attorney a detailed journal of their day’s activities. Besides improved transparency and accuracy, Smart Time also frees up time for the attorney to focus on our clients’ requirements rather than administrative tasks.

In addition, there was a desire to more accurately capture all of an attorneys’ time. So, the second driver was firm profitability, especially since we had a concern that people weren’t remembering all their activities and recording them.

The third driver was making it easier for people to do their job. One of a attorneys’ biggest complaints was having to complete a timesheet. Everyone approaches it differently and some do it better than others. Smart Time’s timesheet recording is easier because it reports what you’ve done and predicts what you’re going to record.

Did all attorneys benefit?

Yes. It’s not like the people who struggle with timekeeping get more benefit out of the system than the people who are really good at it. Learning the system is simple, easy to get started and the benefits are realized quickly.

For the attorney who only does timesheets once a month, they obviously get quite a significant benefit in terms of accuracy and recreating their timesheet more quickly.

Or, it might also be their secretary that gets the benefit. From what I’ve seen, it’s the high performers who have really taken to Smart Time. Also the really good secretaries will go to their partner and say, “Look, I hate having to do your timesheets at the end of the month, it’s always a mad rush.  Let’s start using Smart Time and it’ll be better.”  And then they teach the partner how to do it. 

So, far the attorneys really like the automated report function. I use it, and for me, I don’t even think about time recording during the day. The next day I run my report and fill in my timesheet in 10 minutes. It’s very accurate and I can then move on to the next thing.

 What are the key benefits of the system for the attorneys?

Number one, it makes it quicker for people who are trying to recreate their timesheet from scratch.

Two, it really helps people who are working out of the office. 

Three, it is a significant benefit for part-time people. On their day off they might take calls or review an e-mail for a special client, for instance. Previously that time might have been forgotten. Now, they get a report that includes all that time.

Four, it also helps really busy people who now don’t have to worry as much about their timesheet.

The last benefit, which is a funny one, is that the litigators have used it to prove or disprove whether they had a certain conversation on a certain day, if, for example, that’s being claimed by the opposing attorney.

Has the system increased booked hours?

This is a hard question to answer because you will never have two situations that are exactly the same. There are always differences, so it’s impossible to just change one parameter, i.e., introducing Smart Time and say, “Ah, yes it’s gone up by 3 hours.” That’s very hard to prove.

But having said that, the people who use the system tell me they think it’s increasing the number of hours they’re recording. And they are saying, “Yes, we think we are getting at least an extra couple of units a day.” To us, that sounds good. I certainly use that in my business justification for the product.

About Herbert Geer

Herbert Geer is a significant Australian law firm with offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The firm with over 330 people has committed to achieving intelligent and commercial solutions for clients through the application of industry and sector knowledge, technology and their first class legal skills.

www.herbertgeer.com.au

Smart Time Case Study: Fowler White Burnett

One-on-One with David Maloyed, Accounting Database Manager

An end to reconstruction, time leakage and the search for the “holy grail” of more billable hours – that’s what David Maloyed, Accounting Database Manager at Fowler White Burnett, was looking for in a time capture solution for his firm. Recently, we talked to David to discover his reasons for implementing Smart Time.

What were the business drivers for implementing a time capture solution?

We used Smart Time at my last firm. When I joined Fowler, I made the pitch to management that time capture software would reduce busy work, increase accuracy, and, the “holy grail,” find more billable time. The ability for a software product to create additional billable fees – now that’s something you don’t find in many products.

What I discovered at my last firm — and it is true here as well – that attorneys, by their very nature, tend to prepare their timesheets by reconstructing their day by looking at their e-mails, calendared appointments and phone logs. On average, a partner-level attorney spends 2-4 hours a week on the reconstruction process. With Smart Time, they get a report every morning listing what they did the prior day. They don’t have to reconstruct — it’s all right there for them.

Besides saving time, Smart Time cleans up the timekeeping process and shuts down time leakage. Time capture reports jog the timekeeper’s memory to make sure they book all of their hours. The simple act of closing the leak increases hours. That’s how time capture works.

We took one of our problem people and figured out if she billed five more hours per month, it would pay for the product for the whole firm. It was kind of like, “Where do we sign and how soon can we get it installed?” It was a no-brainer.

How did you go about selecting a vendor?

Besides Smart Time, I looked at three other time capture products and either they were outrageously priced (six figures to get my foot in the door, which is absurd) or the attorneys didn’t like the user interface. I can tell you from experience, if the attorney doesn’t like the interface, it doesn’t matter how good the software is, they’re not going to use it. Smart Time scored highest on usability.

How did the implementation go?

From a technical standpoint, implementation went really smoothly. We had everything resolved in about 10 days. E-mails and appointments are mined from our Microsoft Exchange system. Rather than grab phone calls from our switch we went directly to our nQueue Billback cost recovery system, which gives us inbound and outbound calls. Mobile calls are secured from our Blackberry Enterprise Server. We had some technical challenges with documents, but Smart WebParts found a way to make it work.

How did you deploy Smart Time?

We did a Lunch ‘n Learn introduction for our early adopters on a Thursday. I started checking in with them the following Monday to see if they had any questions. By Friday, all 15 were up and running. So, we got everybody in the first group trained and live in one week, which is saying a lot.  For the rest of the firm we are installing the product virally. We are leaving it up to our first users to do the PR push for us. Our first users are very excited and have been spreading the word to their colleagues. Attorneys are contacting me and saying, “We want to be in the next round, when’s it going to be, do we have to wait?”  Everybody agrees we should have done this sooner.

What feature do the attorneys love best?

Besides eliminating the manual reconstruction process, the attorneys love the block feature. It is part of the learning system that allows users to associate e-mails, phone numbers and such to a client and matter. The block feature allows users to permanently hide numbers, like phone numbers from their spouse or kids’ cell numbers, so that they don’t come up every day in their report. They know they’re not going to bill it, so by blocking it one time, it never shows up again and reduces what they’ve got to look at on a daily basis when they prepare their timesheets. That’s the “smart” in Smart Time. It learns, and the more you teach the system, the better it works for you.

What’s it like working with Smart WebParts?

I can call them and say, listen, this isn’t working for us, what about X? And they say, “We can probably do that.” With most vendors, “We can probably do that” means they’ll put it on the board and in six months maybe they’ll talk about it. But with these guys, I get updates in 30 days.  You just don’t get that from other vendors. The level of service is beyond reproach.

How have your attorneys adapted to the system?

With Smart Time’s straightforward interface, the attorneys quickly adapted to the system. It was a 15-minute training session and they were off to the races. We barely get a support call. The product is solid. Attorneys are reporting back to us that it is taking them less time to prepare their timesheets and they are finding more time to book. Everybody is happy.