What You Won’t Get with an “Out of the Box” Practice Management System

legal software

What You Won’t Get with an “Out of the Box” Practice Management System

The supposed simplicity of a “one-size-fits-all” approach may be appealing for legal practice management, but firms should be wary of solutions that limit customizations. Each firm has a unique set of system requirements that are best addressed with tailored solutions, not “out of the box” practice management. It is difficult to exceed client expectations and outperform competitors when relying on basic technology with limited functionality.

Think Outside of the Software Box

When adopting new technology, firms are presented with a valuable opportunity to streamline their existing processes and scale to future needs. For growth-oriented firms, limited functionality can impede their ability to implement process improvements or adaptations. In these instances, the technology will need to be replaced sooner than anticipated, placing the firm in both a costly position and at a competitive disadvantage.

Firms of all sizes and practice areas may have complex requirements for their software, and their customization needs should be the focus when considering any new technology solution. When choosing between an “out of the box” solution and one tailored to your firm, there are a few important features to consider.

The first essential feature missing in an “out of the box” practice management system (PMS) is billing customization. Many complexities exist within the legal time and billing management process that requires customization, such as multi-payer and rate structure as well as activity-based billing (fixed-bid work, group time entries, flat fees, or action code rates). Regardless of what your customization needs are within the process, it is important to have a solution in place that allows you to get it right.

Operational efficiency is another critical factor for firms of all sizes not supported by every boxed PMS. Optional customizations can be leveraged to eliminate manual processes and provide critical alerts. This saves the firm’s staff the time it would have otherwise taken to manually correct errors as they are found (often not until a bill has been rejected), thereby increasing billable hours.

Another key to operational efficiency is the ability to integrate with a firm’s existing tech stack. While often missing from boxed solutions, a PMS with the capabilities to integrate with your firm’s existing systems will enhance operational procedures. Without integration capabilities, boxed software users are forced to take a “swivel chair” approach, manually transferring data between systems, often resulting in human error and loss of time.

Finally, while not typically found in an “out of the box” PMS, tailored solutions offer case management customization to help firms leverage insight at all levels, such as the practice group, client, and individual. Firms can enable automation of task flows and workflows, completions, and notifications. The firm’s document management activities can also benefit from this customization by utilizing “if/then” logic to populate specific fields.

Sophisticated firms require a solution that can not only meet current needs but also deliver continued value in an ever-evolving legal industry. How has customization enabled your firm to thrive? Share your comments below.

Aderant Expert

For a best-in-class solution designed to make your days run smoother, eliminate manual processes, and ensure your firm is fully prepared to meet the demands of the future, get to know Aderant’s legal time and billing software solution, Expert.