changing accounting programs (what to look for)

craig bayer of Law Office Technologies, Inc.

another guest post by craig bayer of law office technologies, inc.

December and January are always busy months for us as firms begin to move to new legal specific accounting software. I am down to my last installation (A Timeslips and QuickBooks conversion to PCLaw) and decided to share some of the common issues that occur in this process.

To Convert or not to Convert

Most legal specific accounting software offers conversions which take all your data from the old program and move it into the new one. The conversion works as advertised but the old adage of Garbage In, Garbage Out, definitely applies. If your accounting data is pretty clean, convert it. If you have not done a bank reconciliation in three years, this is a brand new opportunity for a fresh start. You will still have your old accounting software for archive purposes.

The Less Links, the Better

Integration is the keyword. No one likes links and they can be a pain to maintain. I don’t see why firms maintain separate billing and separate accounting programs, when there is plenty of software like PCLaw or Billing Matters that have both of these features. If you are using any sort of Practice Management Software, see if they have an accounting program. TimeMatters has BillingMatters, Amicus Attorney just added Amicus Accounting, and PCLaw added practice and document management in the past couple of years.

CPA’s like QuickBooks

All CPA’s know how to use QuickBooks and are familiar with it. When they hear you are thinking about moving to a legal specific accounting program, they will grumble a little bit. Most of these legal accounting programs offer free accountant copies and PCLaw even lets you export into a QuickBooks file. The point is that the CPA works for you and a good CPA will have no problem doing their job with Legal Accounting Software.

Have all your Data Ready

The move to a new accounting system can be stressful for everyone involved, so make sure you have all your data ready when the change is going to take place. Gather all your client’s opening matter and trust account balances as well as all your bank account balances. If these numbers are accurate and in one place, you will be good to go.

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