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LexisNexis Time Matters — Time Matters With Billing Matters

the Oct. 2006 Review of Practice Management Systems

Time Matters
with Billing Matters Plus 7 from LexisNexis encases the entire business process,
with timekeeping, customer relations, billings, employee scheduling, project
management, communications, research tools and document management. With three
business series, small and midsize accounting and legal firms are well served,
though this product can also be adopted by other professional service businesses,
as well.

Ease of Use/Flexibility — 5 Stars
The accounting version exhibits a few key differences from its legal cousin.
Both versions operate with similar interfaces, incorporating a taskbar for fast
access to business processes. Analogous to tax and accounting firm engagements,
LexisNexis provides case management for law firms. Terminology can be selected
so that interfaces meet the definitions that your firm most often uses. Setup
is extremely fast, which includes integration to some pre-installed products.
Security settings can be customized as new users are entered, and inheritance
from like-users is allowed.

Not to understate the complexity of the software, Time Matters is an intuitive
product that feels welcoming. To make the product more navigable, menus are
broken out by task/subject, the taskbar provides fast access to the most commonly
used tools, and the Navigator gives access by process-type. Users are not initially
confronted with reminders of all the things they haven’t done yet (or
worse, done wrong). However, options exist to do just that with Alerts, Watches,
and ToDos with priority ordering. Wizards can assist with setup and new-item
entry. As noted in last year’s review, I found a few screens with much
more information than most firms will need — more than 30 customizable
entry fields on certain contacts tabs. As well, the Billing Items form (where
time entries are made) is more comprehensive than many firms might need. Time
entry isn’t overly complex, but options are plentiful: entry by client,
matter/case and time code; duration; rate basis; and override adjustments. At
the same time, LexisNexis Time Matters calculates your gross, billable and net
values. This is great for firms where professionals need direct control over
cases and billing, thus providing for the needs of both full-service and walk-in

Scalability/Stability — 5 Stars
Time Matters can be installed as either a stand-alone workstation or on a network,
making the product fully scalable for small tax and accounting offices to large
firms. The LexisNexis research tools are some of the highest rated on the market,
and stability has not been a problem with the research site, nor the database.
Problems related to scalability that have been brought up by readers in the
past are most often associated with growing pains and not giving forethought
to rapid expansion. Learn from previous users: Plan well, and you will be rewarded;
don’t plan, and you may be punished. Time Matters is an excellent choice
for firms that have identified available features that they would like to grow
into, such as document management and group communication.

Productivity Tools/Features — 5 Stars
An abundance of productivity tools are available in the Time Matters and Billing
Matters products. The primary component is contact management, wherein access
to all information regarding a particular contact (or client) can be found.
In the legal version, case/matter management is provided. Because communication
and correspondence records are vital to smooth handling of clients, LexisNexis
incorporates an e-mail application, messaging system, and documenting of physical
mail and phone calls. Frances Molinari, CPA, of Molinari Oswald LLC, states
that one of the most beneficial aspects of the software is that “it has
streamlined our ability to manage our firm. It is a program that all can use
and eliminates the need for multiple programs. It also allows us to keep one
database of contacts with all their contact info. No duplicates.”

Also, recognizing the importance of connectivity while traveling, remote time
can be entered on all major portable platforms (PocketPC, Blackberry and Palm).
Billing features have also been added to the portable platform. A separate hosted
solution for timekeeping over the web is available to firms requiring that functionality,
as well. Tax and accounting firms can benefit from the strong scheduling system.
The Scheduler allows managers or administrative personnel to identify employees
with free time, and, given permission, to book appointments during those periods.
Reminders can be set, and firms can implement their own customizations to events.
As scheduled events are completed, they can be directly converted into billable
entries. Calendar items can be synchronized with Outlook or iCal, and no external
viewers are necessary.

Molinari also appreciates features built into the billing process. “From
a billing perspective, I like the fact that you can bill differently for each
engagement, i.e. flat fee no detail or hourly, but also maintain a client-level
AR,” he said. “This allows us to set up each engagement and forget
it. Each engagement carries with it ALL the important info you need for billing.
This includes what the bill will look like, how the engagement will be billed,
how the fees will be allocated (important for compensation), etc.”

One of the features that distinctly separates Time Matters from all other
products in this review is direct integration of research tools. Firms that
have subscriptions to can access the research site, tagging entries
and referencing them with cases. Other web research can similarly be tracked,
and time entries can be generated. Document management works very similarly
with the ability to track time surrounding documents and attribute documents
to particular contacts. New Files can be generated in the document manager,
which includes the creation of templates. The document management system included
is one of the most complex, as it also provides support for scans, merging of
documents and entries to HotDocs. Documents stored in the database can be accessed
either directly if native application support exists or through the launcher.
Files can also be shared or e-mailed, and version control is offered.

Reporting — 4.5 Stars
Time Matters provides a useful selection of reports, though many firms will
find a need to create custom reports for better decision making. As addressed
in last year’s review, Billing Matters Plus provides billing reporting,
which includes profitability, case billings, productivity and write-up/down.
Many reports offer numerous filter fields, and groupings and ranges can often
be set. Also included is the Report Designer, which allows for custom reporting.
Other form designers are provided for billing, invoicing and navigating.

Support/Help/Updates — 5 Stars
Without making any dramatic changes to its product, LexisNexis has provided
a significant number of updates to the Time and Billing Matters line again this
year. The “Guide to What’s New” contains nearly 70 pages of
instruction on using new integration tools, calendar functions, e-mail enhancements,
updates to journals, and how to create customizable workflow navigators. Clearly,
LexisNexis is leading the way with regular updates and extended functionality,
much of which is user-driven. Help and support is reliable, and the vendor’s
website provides access to web support, a knowledgebase and even a drop box
for development ideas.

Integration — 5 Stars
Newly added this year is support for Microsoft Small Business Accounting, RSS
newsfeeds, and several calendar and e-mail products. This just complements what
was already a long list of supported products for synchronizing data, including
ACT!, QuickBooks and Timeslips. Microsoft Office products such as Outlook and
Word have built-in support. For portables, Palm, Blackberry and Pocket PC platforms
are recognized, and billing record support for Palm has just been added. Firms
should consider the value of integration before uprooting processes and requiring
users to learn all new platforms.

Relative Value — 5 Stars
Time Matters with Billing Matters Plus’ functionality does well to match
its ease-of-use. At a cost of $700 for the first user, and $400 for each user
thereafter, a 10-user firm would pay $3,900 for the 7.0 edition. Upgrade purchases
are offered consistently at a discounted price to current users. Given the advanced
tools such as messaging and e-mail, research tracking, and integration with
desktop products and portable platforms, this is an excellent solution for growing
firms of all sizes.

2006 Overall Rating: 5 Stars