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GUIDE TO BEST BILLING PRACTICES

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Alisanne Steele | TheSoftwareConsultant | Friday, March 9, 2018

The old adage is true, ‘time is money’.  Save time and increase revenue with these time & billing best practices

 Record your time, record your time, record your time!

Your work day is most likely jam packed, but recording billable time during or immediately following a task is the number one way to ensure accuracy. Before the day or week gets away from you, develop a system for recording time that works for you. Otherwise, attempting to reconstruct billable time from memory can result in lost revenue when trying to recreate gaps in time spent on work.

Most firms have software designed to properly capture time entries during the task by making use of the built-in timers and using pre-designed tokens to capture and document the task. Taking a little time to ensure that your tokens and abbreviations are properly setup can streamline the timekeeping process and greatly reduce the time gap.

For some, software timekeeping is just not practical. But whether it is electronic or manual tracking, the sooner you capture the entry, the more accurate and profitable your billing will be! Best practices for manual time tracking include dictating the task after it’s completed and having it transcribed at the end of the day, or keeping a time notebook and recording tasks by hand, which are entered (by staff) into software at the end of the day.

Expand billing descriptions. 

We’ve all encountered those conversations with clients: ‘I’d like to review my bill.’ They eat into your billable time! An excellent way to more readily avoid this is to strike the right balance between brevity and detail on your billing.

As you may know, a detailed task description is the foundation of a well-drafted invoice. Descriptions that are too brief lend themselves to ambiguity and frustration. In short, clients want the ability to clearly assess the appropriateness of the task performed and the time expended in doing so. Rather than using phrases like ‘presentation prep’ or ‘document review’ – highlight your task with a better description: ‘Review of vendor contract and procedures.

Know your client, know your audience. 

Just like any document or presentation prepared for a third party, remember to always keep your audience in mind when recording entries. Beyond your client, your invoice may be reviewed and processed by several individuals at various levels, from business professionals to accountants.

Refrain from using jargon specific to your industry, always use concise terminology, and remember: your invoice may end up in the hands of those who have not been trained in your field. Keep them in mind!

Every client has its own billing policies and procedures. These policies are often contained in the client’s retention or engagement letter. These billing policies may set forth staffing limitations, budgetary guidelines, disbursement policies and specific timekeeping guidelines. By becoming cognizant of the ground rules at the outset, you can more responsibly account for your time and meet client expectations.

Use your tools! 

Most Billing and Matter Management software solutions offer desktop, remote, web, and device access. You can track and enter your time regardless of your location. Get to know your solution(s), their capabilities, and how to best fit your workflow to your time capture software.

As always, we are here to get you on the right path!

~Sanne

CLE Opportunity:

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Lunch & Learn – Co-Sponsored by the Washoe County Bar Association
Friday, May 4, 2018
11:00 a.m. to 1:00 pm (Q & A 1:00 to 2:00 pm)
2 Hours CLE Ethics Credit
Bruce Thompson Federal Courthouse

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