Legal Business Blog

7 simple steps to start estimating your projects comprehensively.

Tracking time is quite energy consuming in itself, and it becomes even worse if you try it new way. Here is your fast track to automataed time traction with A2 billing software.

Step 0.

Connect your calendar to your A2 server.

Step 1.

Enter all clients – both companies and natural persons – into the system. It is rather wearisome to print in all the business cards you have. So, we recommend to enter all new clients after the first contact and old ones – as soon as new projects appear.
Try to enter all the details so as not to get back to it. However, you can just enter any name you like.

Step 2.

Now you have clients. So you should have some staff members to provide services.
Make sure you not only enter them into the system, but set certain wage-rates for them. Looking further forward, a wage-rate can be changed for different projects, but each staff member should be assigned a certain base wage-rate.
Besides, it is noted that lawyers – at least in consulting sphere – tend to take pride in their wage-rates. It is so nice when your brain is highly appreciated.

Step 3.

Create your first project. Each hour is allocated to a certain project in the system. And each project is in its turn assigned to a certain Client.
Lawyers subscribe to a project – they will be responsible for it. Other settings can also be changed.
Internal projects aimed at Firm’s development – Marketing, PR activity and etc. – refer to relevant internal codes. A client for such projects is the Firm, which is entered into the system by default.
Each project may be divided between Firm’s Partners. You can do it in a relevant tab.
Thus, you can track who has got proceeds and how much. For instance, my Partner and I handle a lawsuit for $USD1000000. Then our proceeds are allocated as follows: 50% in my money box and 50% in his. Such allocation is performed along with time tracking, i.e. it has no connection with time expenditure.
If a lawyer has his own practice or if it is one partner who is responsible for a certain project, 100% is entered.

Step 4.

Great! You’ve got a client, a project and lawyers responsible for it. You can enter the time. 
You can create a new entry or edit a draft. All entries imported from your calendar are saved as drafts by default.
Assign an entry to a client and a project, print in what works have been done and their scope. Save. That’s it!
You may as well approve the time – if you have the rights. Otherwise, it will be approved by your Partner who will review billing and a report to the client.
So, we have few time entries. What’s next?

Step 5.

Now a responsible Partner should open a list of all available time and approve entries made by staff members – one by one or all at once (later he can change it).

Step 6.

The time is approved. Now you form a Report on Time and Expenditure to be sent to a client. This report includes all entries for a selected period and presents them in a table.
A specialty of А2.Time is that at this stage you can edit reports and this edits will be instantly reflected in a database – you should only click on a certain entry. In the expanding box edit the time or description of the works.
Besides, you should also keep accurate reports on fixed-price projects.
Firstly, you will see how effective you are. You can read about it here.
Secondly, a client can always ask for a report on “what you have really done”. If your clients are legal entities, their account departments just love such questions. It will help them to back up expenses.

Step 7.

The last step – a cherry on top and the most pleasant part – is to invoice a client. Enter a project, click on Accounts Receivable tab.

After an invoice has been issued, you may enter payments and track receipt of money from clients.

P.S. And the last thing! A bit of a lifehack – when working in the system some tabs are better viewed in a browser (Ctrl+click or CMD+click if Mac). It is especially comfortable when you have to approve a large number of time entries.