Billing is the lifeblood of every firm. It is vital that you understand which matters are paying in accordance with your efforts. Even if you are a contingent firm, time tracking will allow you to divide the time invested as opposed to the total money collected. A system audit will ensure that you are not investing more time than you should, at less money than you should be collecting.
One of the first steps in upgrading your billing system is to figure out what information you need your system to provide you. Your system should be able to tell you things like how many hours were accounted for the previous month, the total amount billed, the total amount accrued, and any debts left outstanding. It should also tell you who owes the debt, and how long the debt has remained outstanding. Your firm should have a predetermined monetary expectancy in regards to certain actions. If it is discovered that these base levels are not being met, steps should be taken to either eliminate the service or become more efficient in those services.
Run a weekly or monthly report that illustrates how much time everyone in the firm has entered into the computer. Make a constant effort to maintain the highest number possible. Have all associates and staff commit to this process. If you are not billing for every minute spent on a case, you are short-changing your revenue stream. Time tracking needs devotion and continual monitoring in order to maximize its use. Ensure that all members of the firm commit to this as well. Failure to do this delays the billing process and causes confusion. It further clouds the total money earned per service, per billable hour. Using modern billing system technologies that gather and sort this data will allow all decisions moving forward to be based on facts.
Next, is drafting bills and having them reviewed. Ensuring edits are made immediately will further ensure their accuracy. This should be done solely through computer programs, and should never rely on hand writing or paper. Further, once the bill has been drafted, it should be sent via email. This cuts out delivery times, possible bill “misplacement”, or wait times for check processing. Upgrading your billing system in this manner will save your firm valuable time, as well as money.
Jeff Hughes, J.D.