Smart Time Apps Announces Case Study Featuring Meyers Nave

Campbell, CA – October 6, 2014 – Smart Time Apps, the provider of Smart Time, today announced the availability of its latest case study, which centers on California-based firm Meyers Nave and its experience implementing Smart Time.

Click here to download the case study.

Smart Time is an all-in-one timekeeping platform for law, accounting and professional services firms. The Smart Time timekeeping platform includes time entry, time capture and mobile modules. Any one of the modules can be installed independently or together to create a complete timekeeping platform. Smart Time enables firms to effectively collect, track and recoup billable time, thereby increasing revenue and profitability.

“Smart Time has a lot of intrinsic features I really like,” said Matt Reynolds, top technologist at Meyers Nave. “We recently completed the implementation, and we already can see a positive effect on the bottom line. Attorneys are spending less time building their time chit, and more time practicing law.”

“This is the second firm Matt has introduced to Smart Time, and we’re pleased to have another example of the ways in which Smart Time benefits firms almost immediately,” said Smart Time Apps co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Todd Gerstein. “This case study again demonstrates Smart Time’s ability to achieve greater revenue, less pain and total mobility for its users.”

About Smart Time Apps

Smart Time Apps creates software solutions that maximize profits for law, accounting and professional services firms. Our flagship product, Smart Time, is an all-in-one time management platform. Our team of experts specializes in finance, accounting, marketing, process engineering and technology. We utilize best-of-breed technologies, as well as the most advanced tools and production processes. We have built a dedicated team, who offer solutions that are unique in the industry. Smart Time Apps is privately held and is headquartered in Campbell, California. http://www.smartwebparts.com.

Do Associates Intentionally Underreport Chargeable Time?

Smart Time Solves a Mystery, Revealing Hidden Timekeeping Behaviors and Motives

What would you say if I told you that some timekeepers intentionally underreport their time? I’d never thought about it as a possibility, since in most law firms putting up big hours is a badge of honor. Why would anybody underreport their time?

Who Knew?

When a law firm uses Smart Time, our timekeeping system, beyond its original intent, you can bet it gets our attention. If you see something once, it’s merely interesting, but see something twice? That’s when I ask, “What’s going on here?”

We’ve studied and helped firms build time entry due date compliance policies. But the issue of underreporting or “eating” time had never crossed our radar.

However, recently, two of our clients told us how they used Smart Time: to find out if associates intentionally underreport chargeable time and why.

In my writings, I’ve talked extensively about timekeepers who underreport or leak time because they had trouble remembering, at the moment they prepare their timesheets, what they did. But intentional underreporting? That’s another beast.

A Little Detective Work

What happened is that the firms ran time captures for a month for each timekeeper. The time captures reported what the timekeeper did, when they did it and how long it took. They then compared the time captures to the actual hours booked, looking for patterns of missing time.

The first finding both firms reported to us is that younger and less experienced associates tend to underreport more time than experienced associates.

When the firm’s management spoke to the offending associates, they first confirmed the behavior and then asked, “Why?” This is what they learned:

  • Associates underreported time in order to make superiors think they were more competent than other associates in the same class – which they hoped would lead to better assignments.

  • Associates underreported time to take pride in meeting the time allotted by their superior to complete the assigned task.

  • Some associates reported that the billing partner on the matter told them to do it.

I’ll leave it to you to play industrial psychologist to figure out what this all means. I think it has a lot to do with associates gaming competence and partners bullying young associates. But, whatever it means, it’s not a healthy process.

Let Nothing Escape

Let me make this clear. Everybody should record everything they did without judgment. Let the billing partner, at prebill time, decide what gets billed and what gets written off. Complete and accurate timesheets should be at the foundation of your timekeeping policy.

Time Capture – Do You Leak Time? Smart WebParts Sends in the Puppet to the Legal Industry Video Awards

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Sometimes, you just got to have fun. We created Mark W. Gray – our puppet spokesman – to explain time capture. When we heard about the Legal Industry Video awards competition – we knew it was time to “send in the puppet.”

The originator of the Awards, Charles Christian of Legal IT Insider, commented: “The legal industry is increasingly investing in creating videos that inform, educate and better market their services and products. We want to recognise and reward this effort and showcase the best of the best.”

And now, here’s our entry.  Everybody – Meet Mark.   To see the story on Charles’ Blog at Legal IT Insider click here.

Time Capture Software: What’s In It For Me? Selling and Deploying it to Your Attorneys

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Todd Gerstein
CEO & Founder
Smart WebParts

So you have a new time capture system, and you’re excited about all the benefits it offers to the firm. You’ve been talking it up, mentioning business efficiency, productivity, increased revenue and the like.

Snore, say your timekeepers. And even worse than their uninspired reaction is their reluctance to learn how to use it. What’s gone wrong in this scenario? And what can you do to gain (the absolutely essential) buy-in from your staff?

The simple answer is this: You must lead your “pitch” with WIIFM (What’s in it for me?), from the perspective of your timekeepers.

Feel Their Pain

Attorneys are busy people, and the only thing more painful than keeping their time is spending time learning something that has no perceived benefit. However, if you can begin by convincing your timekeepers that the time spent learning a new system will drastically cut hours of pain out of their daily lives, you can bet enthusiasm will shoot way up.

They need to know that time capture will:

  • Save time preparing timesheets
  • Find time that would have otherwise been forgotten
  • Minimize general timekeeping angst

With this information—the answers to WIIFM—reluctance disappears.

No Substitute for Experience

Once your timekeepers are sold on the idea of adopting time capture, the next question becomes how to begin.

Talk is cheap and usually unconvincing, so the surest route to real adoption is allowing your timekeepers to experience the benefits of time capture at literally no cost to them—no training, no learning curve, no effort, no disruption.

With a time capture system, you can begin by sending out daily journal reports via email. This way the information captured is simply made available—additive, not disruptive—and a user can use it or ignore it. Making use of the information becomes completely voluntary.

Management’s Role Still Important

Of course, management still has a responsibility to roll out a new system smoothly and efficiently, or risk losing attention and enthusiasm to problems unrelated to the product itself.

We recommend that to manage the deployment well, it should be broken down into small pieces. This way, you can achieve “early wins” to build project momentum.

Besides the project team, you will want to recruit early adopters and “change zealots” to help you with the deployment. Early adopters are users who embrace new technology before most other people do. Work with this group to vet that the time capture report is accurate.

Once you’ve got the time capture engine working, expand the pilot group to include change zealots who can be trusted to spread the news of time capture’s benefits. Keep in mind that some of these individuals don’t need to be tech savvy and may even be your most problematic timekeepers.

Once everything is locked down and working for your pilot groups, it’s time to expand the deployment to all your users. Start with automated reporting at first. Keep the lines of communication with your users open. Inform them about time capture and how you think it will benefit them. Allow them the freedom to opt-out from the reports, and be sure to answer any questions they bring up.

Once everybody is getting reports, offer voluntary lunch and learn sessions to demonstrate the online features of the system. Typically when such a plan is followed, we see a system adoption rate of somewhere around 75-80% within 4-6 weeks.

Enabling Change

Ultimately, change can happen in one of two ways. You can try to command it, forcing staff to see things your way, discussing benefits and adoption from a position of authority.

Or, you can let it emerge naturally, with timekeepers answering the WIIFM question on their own, interacting with the system voluntarily, and adopting it from a position of self-improvement and empowerment.

The choice is up to you. From our experience, however, it’s pretty obvious which one achieves real change and lasting success.

Whitepaper: The Power of Time Capture Automation

Imagine a world where every timekeeper in your firm:

  • had perfect recall when they prepared their timesheets;
  • booked all hours worked; and
  • prepared complete and accurate timesheets with the least amount of effort.

This is not a pipe dream. This is what time capture automation can do for your firm.

To learn more, we invite you to read our whitepaper – The Power of Time Capture Automation.

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In the whitepaper you’ll learn:

  • What is leaked time?
  • Which common work situations do most people forget to bill?
  • How much revenue can be recovered?

Ready to learn more about time capture technology? Click here to download the whitepaper.

Time Capture: Timekeeping Q&A with Todd Gerstein: How Time Capture Increases Revenue

Todd Gerstein
CEO & Founder, Smart WebParts

If your firm relies on booked hours for billing, it’s virtually guaranteed that your firm is also losing revenue to “leaked time,” which is time worked but not booked.

The good news is that you can plug these leaks with a time capture system: a low-risk, low-investment and highly effective option. And, not only does time capture find these lost hours, but it also helps to improve management of the entire timekeeping process.

Q: How does leaked time happen?

A: In our experience, the biggest sources of leaked time are obvious, but without time capture, hard to fix:

  • Small units of time the timekeeper simply forgets about
  • Work that the timekeeper underreports

As we delve deeper, we see that these sources occur most often in these very common work situations:

  • Emails
  • Mobile phone calls
  • Internal phone calls from colleagues
  • Time in the office when particularly busy
  • On a smartphone, but out of the office
  • Out of the office all day
  • Work that takes place in very small increments

Q: Who leaks time?

A: You’d think that there would be “good” timekeepers and “bad” timekeepers, but it’s not quite that simple. Even the best timekeeper encounters situations that thwart timely and accurate entries.

Really, it’s more a question of timekeeping “style.” Timekeepers who keep time as they go—the “contemporaneous” approach—are less likely to leak time, but still do so despite their best efforts.

Timekeepers who enter time after work is done—the “reconstructionist” approach—leak more time, with the problem worsening the longer the delay between the entry and the time worked.

Q: What is the revenue impact of leaked time?

A: Take a look at the chart below to see the magnitude of the problem:

With a time capture system, it’s very reasonable to expect to find an additional 4 to 6 hours per timekeeper per month. So, 5 hours per month for a timekeeper with a $400/hour rate yields an additional $24,000.

For a 100-timekeeper firm, closing the leak represents $2.4 million in incremental billings. This represents about a 3% pickup in booked time over the course of a year.  (Thats a 60 hours picked up on 1800 hours.)

Revenue Up, Angst Down

Firms must actively manage their timekeeping process if they are to maximize profits. With the potential for significant revenue increases for most firms, and a simple implementation process and reasonable cost, the case for trying time capture is a compelling one.

Since the billable hour was invented, two things have existed: 1) leaked time, and 2) timekeeping headaches. Time capture helps to preserve the integrity of the billable hour, plugging leaks and making timekeeping as accurate and painless as possible.

Time Capture – How Do You Measure Leaked Time?

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Todd Gerstein
CEO & Founder, Smart WebParts

Around here, we talk a lot about the concept of leaked time. We believe it to be the most common way that firms lose revenue, and the easiest problem to fix. Let’s take a closer look at why we’re confident that leaked time is a huge issue for almost every firm.

Q: How do you know leaked time is real? How can you measure something that is missing?

A: Our contention is that leaked time manifests itself in small increments. It could be the timekeeper forgetting to book an email, phone call, mobile call, or a quick edit to a document.

We have three methods to measure what’s missing. The first is anecdotal, based on the stories we get about new experiences after Smart Time is implemented. For example, a CFO recently wrote to us to say, “I just heard back from the managing partner in our Florida office. He found $4100 of leaked time in August. I am speechless.”

The second method is a forensic look back at old timesheets. For example, we’ll have a user pull out some old timesheets that were done before adopting time capture. Then we’ll have them reconcile the daily Smart Time journal report against their actual timesheets to see if they can find time they forgot to book. Inevitably the user always finds leaked time.

The third method is an analytical look into a firm’s accounting database. This is part of something we call our Timekeeper Behavior Analysis.

Q: What is the Timekeeper Behavior Analysis?

A: We created the TBA to help law firms better understand their timekeeping process. At its core are a set of key performance indicators and metrics that measure timekeeper behavior, time entry velocity (how fast time gets logged into the system), the value of late time, and the value of leaked time (time worked but not booked). The TBA is available for firms with Aderant, Elite and the other major accounting systems used in the legal industry.

Q: What kind of data does the TBA examine?

A: Let’s say the ABC Sample Law Firm is a U.S. law firm with 350 timekeepers. In this study, we extracted 12 months of data – equivalent to 780,000 time tickets — from the firm’s accounting system. That’s a little more than 8 time tickets per person per day. After we extracted the data, we loaded it into our system for analysis.

Next, we calculated velocity for every timekeeper (i.e., how fast does the timekeeper get their time into the system?) First, we calculate velocity for every time ticket and then we average the results. Velocity is equal to the post date minus the work date.

So a person with a velocity score of zero does their timesheets daily – what we call a “contemporaneous” timekeeper. Do your timesheets once a week and you have a score of 3.5, or once a month and your score is 15. These are examples of a “reconstructionist” timekeeper.

Q:  Do you look at any other data?

A: The next thing we do is to look at the mix of time increments across different entries. So, what percent of the time entries are .10, .20, and so forth?

If everyone had perfect memory, everyone should have the same mix of time increments in the actual time entries. That scenario would represent no leaked time.

Q: But what results do you see?

A: We contend that a timekeeper with a velocity score of zero will have more small time entries than someone who has a higher score. In other words, the longer you delay reporting time, the more apt you are to forget these small increments of work.

In this chart, we are cross-tabbing time entry velocity to time increments. For timekeepers with zero velocity, 60% of their entries are small increments. Notice the immediate drop-off when velocity goes from 0 to 1.

Waiting to record time by even one day shows a significant drop-off in small entries from 60% to 45%. To us, this is the marker that proves leaked time exists. Go out to a velocity score of 7 (timesheets done every two weeks), and you see small increments drop to 38%.

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Q:  Where do all these small increment time entries go?

A: Some of it might not be leaked, but instead included in bigger entries for attorneys who do block billing. But it’s more likely that the time is forgotten and never booked.

We believe this data, and the markers it creates, confirms our analysis.