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February 2002
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Time & Billing

Getting Your Money's Worth

By Michael Kraft

Getting Your Money's Worth HERE are five practical methods to get more value out of your accounting or billing system:

1. Pre-installation needs analysis:

Even if you have decided to install a new accounting system, interview representative users. It will build "buy-in" for change. It will also allow you to detect redundant processes before implementing a new system that merely duplicates the old one and does not take advantage of some of the new functionalities.

2. Work-flow process review:

Map out what you are doing now and take a hard look at the pieces. This is an opportunity to reengineer the process to address substantive needs and eliminate those that add little or no value to your internal or external customers. Ask your attorneys and managers to identify reports they never use and get rid of them.

3. User education and behavior modification:

Training is important and necessary but it does not automatically change behavior. Education is essential to gain mindshare and might even get busy attorneys to show up for training. Take a hard look at what specific behavior you want and then design educational programs, incentives, and disincentives to garner "buy-in."

4. Post-installation user interviews:

After the new system is installed, ask representative users for feedback on how to get more value out of it. This allows you to find and fix what isn't working and gives you a second shot at cutting useless processes. It may also encourage users to adapt their behavior to the new system.

5. Periodic, multidisciplinary review:

Set up a small, high-level committee, including representatives from the major stakeholders: billing partner, controller, administrator, I.T. manager, and others, to review "firm" satisfaction with the system. Give findings and conclusions to whomever the firm deems to be the "owner" of the system. A system that is properly implemented and processes that are flexible can greatly assist in client retention and revenue growth.

Michael Kraft is general counsel at New York City-based Kraft, Kennedy & Lesser.

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