Bilzin Sumberg Adds Smart Time Mobile Timekeeping

Smart Time Mobile Completes Bilzin Sumberg’s Existing Smart Time Platform

Campbell, CA – September 29, 2014 – Smart Time Apps, provider of the Smart Time family of timekeeping applications, today announced that Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP, a leading commercial law firm based in Miami, Florida, has deployed Smart Time Mobile to its attorneys in order to modernize client timekeeping.

Smart Time Mobile enables timekeepers to enter and submit time anywhere, giving them fast and efficient time entry. Users can run reports, see calendars and view time statistics. Timers are available for users who want to keep track of their time with stopwatch precision. Native applications are available for the iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

Bilzin Sumberg uses leading technology to increase efficiency and control costs, applying industry best practices and implementing legal project management software and techniques.  Adopting the Smart Time app is just another example of how the firm stays on the cutting-edge of technology for the legal industry.

“We were early adopters of Smart Time. At first, we deployed their desktop browser-based time entry and time capture modules. Recently we began a testing cycle with Smart Time Mobile, and our test group of attorneys really liked the system,” said Juan Torres, Chief Information Officer at Bilzin Sumberg.  ” We have now begun our mobile deployment and we are thrilled to provide our timekeepers an easy to use and effective mobile time entry solution.”

Steve Bronstein, CTO and Founder of Smart Time Apps, stated that “Smart Time is a best-built application that directly integrates with different accounting systems including: Aderant Expert, Rainmaker, Thomson Reuters Elite, LexisNexis, Juris, PCLaw, Microsoft Dynamics and other leading accounting systems. At Bilzin Sumberg, Smart Time is tightly integrated into the firm’s Aderant Expert accounting system.”

“We are delighted that Bilzin Sumberg has implemented Smart Time Mobile,” said Todd Gerstein, CEO and Founder of Smart Time Apps. “We look forward to supporting the firm’s ongoing success with the Smart Time platform.”

About Bilzin Sumberg

Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP is a commercial law firm based in Florida. The firm’s core practices include Business Finance & Restructuring, Corporate, International, Land Development & Government Relations, Litigation, Real Estate and Tax. For more information, please visit www.bilzin.com.

About Smart Time Apps

Smart Time Apps provides the leading timekeeping platform for law, accounting and professional services firms. Our flagship product, Smart Time, is an all-in-one timekeeping platform. Our team of experts specializes in finance, accounting, marketing, process engineering and technology. Smart Time Apps is privately held and is headquartered in Campbell, California. For more information, visit www.smartwebparts.com.

Do Associates Intentionally Underreport Chargeable Time?

Smart Time Solves a Mystery, Revealing Hidden Timekeeping Behaviors and Motives

What would you say if I told you that some timekeepers intentionally underreport their time? I’d never thought about it as a possibility, since in most law firms putting up big hours is a badge of honor. Why would anybody underreport their time?

Who Knew?

When a law firm uses Smart Time, our timekeeping system, beyond its original intent, you can bet it gets our attention. If you see something once, it’s merely interesting, but see something twice? That’s when I ask, “What’s going on here?”

We’ve studied and helped firms build time entry due date compliance policies. But the issue of underreporting or “eating” time had never crossed our radar.

However, recently, two of our clients told us how they used Smart Time: to find out if associates intentionally underreport chargeable time and why.

In my writings, I’ve talked extensively about timekeepers who underreport or leak time because they had trouble remembering, at the moment they prepare their timesheets, what they did. But intentional underreporting? That’s another beast.

A Little Detective Work

What happened is that the firms ran time captures for a month for each timekeeper. The time captures reported what the timekeeper did, when they did it and how long it took. They then compared the time captures to the actual hours booked, looking for patterns of missing time.

The first finding both firms reported to us is that younger and less experienced associates tend to underreport more time than experienced associates.

When the firm’s management spoke to the offending associates, they first confirmed the behavior and then asked, “Why?” This is what they learned:

  • Associates underreported time in order to make superiors think they were more competent than other associates in the same class – which they hoped would lead to better assignments.

  • Associates underreported time to take pride in meeting the time allotted by their superior to complete the assigned task.

  • Some associates reported that the billing partner on the matter told them to do it.

I’ll leave it to you to play industrial psychologist to figure out what this all means. I think it has a lot to do with associates gaming competence and partners bullying young associates. But, whatever it means, it’s not a healthy process.

Let Nothing Escape

Let me make this clear. Everybody should record everything they did without judgment. Let the billing partner, at prebill time, decide what gets billed and what gets written off. Complete and accurate timesheets should be at the foundation of your timekeeping policy.

Smart Time Apps Announces Smart Time Integration with Aderant e-Rainmaker®

Campbell, CA – September 18, 2014 – Smart Time Apps, the provider of Smart Time, today announced that Smart Time, its flagship timekeeping platform, has successfully been integrated with the Aderant e-Rainmaker® time and billing system.

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 is billing system agnostic,” said Steve Bronstein, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Smart Time Apps. “We recently completed three installations at Aderant e-Rainmaker® sites. At two sites we installed the complete Smart Time platform. These sites were interested in extending the life of their time and billing system by installing a fresh time entry front-end for their attorneys. The third site installed Smart Time mobile to give anywhere, anytime time entry access to their attorneys.”

“Smart Time is more than just a time entry tool—it’s a business tool built by people with real experience in law firm finance and operations,” said Smart Time Apps co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Todd Gerstein. “Often the timekeeping process is broken or ineffective. It can happen for many reasons, from poorly functioning legacy time entry software to process and compliance problems. We’ve developed a solution that results in greater revenue, less pain and total mobility. Smart Time supports every timekeeping behavior, all while ensuring complete, accurate and easy-to-complete timesheets.”

About Smart Time Apps

Smart Time Apps (formerly Smart WebParts) 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.

Disclosure: Aderant e-Rainmaker is a trademark of Aderant Holdings Inc. and is not affiliated or associated with Smart Time Apps.

Top Three Timekeeping Metrics Every Law Firm Should Measure

We Built Smart Time with These In Mind

What timekeeping metrics should you measure? Here’s our offering: a list of the top three metrics absolutely every law firm should be tracking. And, we believe that this information should be made available to both the timekeeper and management. After all, if there isn’t a feedback loop within the firm based on those metrics, what point would there be in measuring?

1. Hours Booked: This is the classic timekeeping measure for law firms. How many billable and non-billable hours did the timekeeper book? Some call this metric a measure of productivity, which might be debatable. But it does shed light on how hard the timekeeper is working. It also shows how many hours a timekeeper has worked that can be converted into revenue.

While most firms track booked hours for the current month and year-to-date, we have also seen firms track hours for 18 months rolling, in order to see longer-term trends. If you set budgets (and I highly recommend you do), be sure to show the variance between hours worked against budget, and be sure your timekeeping system puts these stats in front of the timekeeper. We’ve seen that the mere presence of monthly and annual budgets helps increase booked hours. I am always amazed at how many firms don’t have clearly stated budgets, but ones tentatively said with a whisper.

2. Month-End Late Time:  You’ll want to look closely at how many hours the timekeeper books after the month-end close, and also how many hours miss the monthly billing cycle. All the research into law firm profitability shows that hours booked and billed months late have a lower profitability realization rate. It’s clear that month-end late time is a sure way to lose revenue you’d have otherwise realized. In fact, we’ve seen this number as high as 7% in some firms. Management must work to bring month-end late time down; these stats are a surefire way to make your managing partner crazy. (Give the dog a bone.)

3. Time Entry Velocity:  This measures how quickly time entries get recorded into the system, or, in other words, how many days after doing the work that the timekeeper enters hours into the system.

This one’s important, so let’s dive deeper into the math. Velocity = the difference between the work date and the entry date. So, when velocity = 0, the timekeeper worked and booked time on the same day. When velocity = 2, the timekeeper put in a full week of time into the system on Friday. If velocity = 15, that means the timekeeper is putting all their time in at month end.

Now, the right way to measure velocity is to score every time entry and then average it to get an overall score for each timekeeper. This score transmits their behavior. If a user averages a score between 0 and 1, they are a “contemporaneous” timekeeper, meaning they enter time on the same or next day. To support this type of timekeeper, you must have contemporaneous timekeeping tools like rapid time entry screens and timers.

If a user’s score is greater than 2, they are a “reconstructionist” timekeeper, meaning they are attempting to recreate their day by looking at emails, phone calls, appointments and such to reconstruct their time entries days after the fact. This type especially benefits from time capture technology, which provides the user a journal (derived from electronically monitoring the timekeepers) of what they did, when they did it and how long it took.

Besides identifying behavior, velocity also measures timekeepers’ compliance against the firm’s time entry due date policy. Here, you’ll want to measure the difference between the policy score and the individual’s score. For example, if the firm’s policy is that time for the week must be entered by Friday, the compliance policy has a score of 2. If the user has a velocity score of 3, it means they are not in compliance.

Most likely you know who your late timekeepers are, and this measure gives you a way to quantify it.

So there you have it—the metrics that will give you insight into your timekeepers’ behaviors, and thus, your firm’s inner workings. (Or not-workings, as the case may be.)

With these in hand—reported to you in Smart Time—users and management can come together to better steer the ship toward timekeeping compliance and greater profitability—all with greater simplicity and ease.

Murchison & Cumming Deploys Smart Time Mobile to Modernize Attorney Timekeeping

Smart Time – Proven, Accessible Mobile Time Entry for Law Firms

Campbell, CA – August 11, 2014 – Smart Time Apps, the provider of Smart Time, today announced that Murchison & Cumming, an AV-Rated AmLaw 500 litigation law firm with more than 90 attorneys with five offices in California and Nevada, has deployed Smart Time Mobile to its attorneys to modernize client timekeeping.

Smart Time Mobile enables timekeepers to enter and submit time anywhere. It provides timekeepers real time access to their time entry information. Users can run reports, see calendars and view time statistics. Timers are available for the user who wants to keep track of their time contemporaneously. Native applications are available for the iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

“Earlier this year, we undertook the initiative to improve mobile timekeeping. Our legacy mobile time entry system had become outdated. It was not meeting the needs of our attorneys,” said Jean Lawler, Senior Partner of Murchison & Cumming. “We reviewed several systems and quickly picked Smart Time. We particularly liked the Smart Time iPad user interface and the tight integration the app has to our accounting system.”

Smart Time Mobile can be deployed as a standalone package for firms that want to add mobile time entry to their current timekeeping environment. Or, it can be combined with Smart Time’s browser time entry and time capture modules to create a complete timekeeping solution. Smart Time can be deployed on-premises or hosted in the Smart Time cloud.

According to Steve Bronstein, CTO and Founder of Smart Time Apps, “Smart Time is a best built application that directly integrates with different accounting systems. Smart Time integrations include: Aderant Expert, Rainmaker, Thomson Reuters Elite, Prolaw, LexisNexis, Juris, PCLaw, Microsoft Dynamics and other leading accounting systems. At Murchison & Cumming Smart Time is tightly integrated to the firm’s Aderant Rainmaker accounting system.”

“We are pleased to add Murchison & Cumming to our growing Smart Time customer base,” said Todd Gerstein, CEO and founder of Smart Time Apps. “We look forward to supporting the firm’s ongoing success with Smart Time.”

About Murchison & Cumming LLP

Murchison & Cumming is an AV-rated AmLaw 500 “Go To” law firm for litigation in California and Nevada. We represent domestic and international businesses, insurers, professionals and individuals in litigated, non-litigated and transactional matters. With more than 90 attorneys in our five offices, we are large enough to provide clients with the resources of a large firm while ensuring the level of personalized service one would expect to receive from a small firm, including being able to respond quickly to client emergencies, cutting edge legal issues and developments in the law. We are known and respected trial attorneys and have an appellate record that includes precedent-setting decisions. For more information visit www.murchisonlaw.com.

About Smart Time Apps

Smart Time Apps (formerly Smart WebParts) 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. www.smartwebparts.com.

Smart WebParts Announces Company Name Change to Smart Time Apps

New Branding Aligns Company and Product Brand Identities

Campbell, CA – August 4, 2014 – Smart WebParts announced today that it has changed its company name to Smart Time Apps. The goal of the name change is to align the company and Smart Time product brand identities.

Smart Time is a complete timekeeping platform for law, accounting and professional services firms. The Smart Time timekeeping platform enables firms to effectively collect, track and recoup billable time, thereby increasing revenue and profitability. Smart Time can be deployed on-premises or hosted in the Smart Time cloud.

Todd Gerstein, Chief Executive Officer and founder, Smart Time Apps, states “When we started the company we had a single product. Today we offer browser time entry, passive time capture, desktop timers and mobile timekeeping applications. We are aggressively expanding the Smart Time product line. Our name change reflects that commitment.”

“It will take us a bit of time to fully transition all of our products and materials to the new name, so the Smart WebParts name will still linger in some areas,” Gerstein added. “Over time, we believe that you will like this new name as much as we do. Welcome to Smart Time Apps.”

About Smart Time Apps

Smart Time Apps (formerly Smart WebParts) creates software solutions that maximize profits for law, accounting and professional services firms. Our flagship product, Smart Time, is an all-in-one timekeeping 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. www.smartwebparts.com.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Profitable AFAs

mrynowecer
Michael Rynowecer
President, BTI Consulting Group
Special Guest Post

Far out at the edges of unchartered space exists the mostly uninhabited planet of Profitable AFAs.

This isn’t science fiction comedy. Profitable AFAs do, in fact, exist. We partnered with our friends at Law360 to survey more than 750 attorneys. What we discovered is 22% of partners are prospering in what many consider a desolate land.

BTI_Alternative_Fee_Arrangements_AFAs_2014AFAs are old news. Clients demanding AFAs is old news. Turning a clear profit from AFAs is new.

Nearly 80% of law firm partners can’t figure out how to get to Profitable AFAs. Mismanaged scope, poor budgeting skills, and not enough flexibility to change internal work processes are the most common culprits to undermining profitability in AFAs.

Fortunately, 22% of partners have charted the path to profitability for everyone else to follow. Good tools and processes are the most massively useful things a lawyer can have to reach Profitable AFAs.

  1. Develop detailed budgets to understand and manage costs
  2. Track and monitor budgets like a hawk at least weekly
  3. Assign all work to lawyers on the team with time-specific deadlines and the number of hours budgeted for the task
  4. Review your clients’ objectives with the entire team
  5. Solicit suggestions from the team on how to eliminate unneeded work steps
  6. Discuss case progress with your clients as a normal course of business—a regular dialogue about progress
  7. Track changes in scope or underlying facts and share any budget impact with your clients immediately upon discovery
  8. Actively challenge the team to beat deadlines and deliver early
  9. Develop high trust relationships with your clients

AFAs only work when your client relationships are at the absolute highest levels of trust—not just a good relationship—but a deep, embedded relationship. Part of the simplicity and certainty delivered by AFAs comes from the client believing their lawyer will deliver. Lawyers who have a history of breaking budgets, have infrequent dialogue with their clients (with or without AFAs) or don’t believe in the power of budgets are more likely to end up in make-less-money column—far, far away from planet Profitable AFAs.

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About The BTI Consulting Group, Inc.

We conduct more independent research on how clients acquire, manage, and evaluate their professional service providers than virtually anyone. Our unique methods and approach have propelled over 20 years of fact-based research on buyers and sellers of professional services. We have interviewed more than 13,000 buyers. We benchmark how Fortune 1000 companies buy, how professional services firms sell, and how to manage service provider performance.  For more information visit http://www.bticonsulting.com