One-on-One with David Maloyed, Accounting Database Manager

An end to reconstruction, time leakage and the search for the “holy grail” of more billable hours – that’s what David Maloyed, Accounting Database Manager at Fowler White Burnett, was looking for in a time capture solution for his firm. Recently, we talked to David to discover his reasons for implementing Smart Time.

What were the business drivers for implementing a time capture solution?

We used Smart Time at my last firm. When I joined Fowler, I made the pitch to management that time capture software would reduce busy work, increase accuracy, and, the “holy grail,” find more billable time. The ability for a software product to create additional billable fees – now that’s something you don’t find in many products.

What I discovered at my last firm — and it is true here as well – that attorneys, by their very nature, tend to prepare their timesheets by reconstructing their day by looking at their e-mails, calendared appointments and phone logs. On average, a partner-level attorney spends 2-4 hours a week on the reconstruction process. With Smart Time, they get a report every morning listing what they did the prior day. They don’t have to reconstruct — it’s all right there for them.

Besides saving time, Smart Time cleans up the timekeeping process and shuts down time leakage. Time capture reports jog the timekeeper’s memory to make sure they book all of their hours. The simple act of closing the leak increases hours. That’s how time capture works.

We took one of our problem people and figured out if she billed five more hours per month, it would pay for the product for the whole firm. It was kind of like, “Where do we sign and how soon can we get it installed?” It was a no-brainer.

How did you go about selecting a vendor?

Besides Smart Time, I looked at three other time capture products and either they were outrageously priced (six figures to get my foot in the door, which is absurd) or the attorneys didn’t like the user interface. I can tell you from experience, if the attorney doesn’t like the interface, it doesn’t matter how good the software is, they’re not going to use it. Smart Time scored highest on usability.

How did the implementation go?

From a technical standpoint, implementation went really smoothly. We had everything resolved in about 10 days. E-mails and appointments are mined from our Microsoft Exchange system. Rather than grab phone calls from our switch we went directly to our nQueue Billback cost recovery system, which gives us inbound and outbound calls. Mobile calls are secured from our Blackberry Enterprise Server. We had some technical challenges with documents, but Smart WebParts found a way to make it work.

How did you deploy Smart Time?

We did a Lunch ‘n Learn introduction for our early adopters on a Thursday. I started checking in with them the following Monday to see if they had any questions. By Friday, all 15 were up and running. So, we got everybody in the first group trained and live in one week, which is saying a lot.  For the rest of the firm we are installing the product virally. We are leaving it up to our first users to do the PR push for us. Our first users are very excited and have been spreading the word to their colleagues. Attorneys are contacting me and saying, “We want to be in the next round, when’s it going to be, do we have to wait?”  Everybody agrees we should have done this sooner.

What feature do the attorneys love best?

Besides eliminating the manual reconstruction process, the attorneys love the block feature. It is part of the learning system that allows users to associate e-mails, phone numbers and such to a client and matter. The block feature allows users to permanently hide numbers, like phone numbers from their spouse or kids’ cell numbers, so that they don’t come up every day in their report. They know they’re not going to bill it, so by blocking it one time, it never shows up again and reduces what they’ve got to look at on a daily basis when they prepare their timesheets. That’s the “smart” in Smart Time. It learns, and the more you teach the system, the better it works for you.

What’s it like working with Smart WebParts?

I can call them and say, listen, this isn’t working for us, what about X? And they say, “We can probably do that.” With most vendors, “We can probably do that” means they’ll put it on the board and in six months maybe they’ll talk about it. But with these guys, I get updates in 30 days.  You just don’t get that from other vendors. The level of service is beyond reproach.

How have your attorneys adapted to the system?

With Smart Time’s straightforward interface, the attorneys quickly adapted to the system. It was a 15-minute training session and they were off to the races. We barely get a support call. The product is solid. Attorneys are reporting back to us that it is taking them less time to prepare their timesheets and they are finding more time to book. Everybody is happy.