Basha Systems has recently gotten certified for Credenza, a product of Credenzasoft.com, but really a spinoff of Amicus Attorney. Check out our new subdomain for information (amicus-attorney.bashasys.com). The reason is really simple. Credenza is for those who are not ready for full blown legal practice management. It strikes a balance by including those features which most attorneys with practice management ACTUALLY USE.
We have gone through the certification process … attending the classes and taking the exam. We have installed and configured a few test systems. AND we have implemented the system for our first live client. The “sale” was easy. Who objects to $19.99/month … that is $240/year for each user. What are the hardware requirements? Does your PC run Outlook? Does it have a connection to the internet? Thank you … you can have Credenza.
If Credenza is “so easy” and “so cheap”, what is there for a consultant to do? The answer, actually, is more than you think. And that is because “practice management” is fundamentally different from email and contact management. It requires some discipline, some planning, and some training. All can be delivered our the web with web-training tools like GoToMeeting.com. If you are going to use Credenza for billing and if you are going to take advantage of Cloud-based file-synchronization and database-synchronization, you will need to understand the configuration and setup issues. And you will need to do some planning.
For example, the Credenza File contains a field called “Client ID” and “File ID”. If you plan to post your time entries to Timeslips or Quickbooks, then you will need to fill these fields with the appropriate linking data. Otherwise, you will be posting your time entries to never-never-land. That would make Peter Pan and Wendy happy, but won’t exactly bring you any revenue.
The system also allows you to create “custom fields” on the file. It supports basic data-types. But you need to create the same fields on each file type. Moreover, the reporting system for custom fields is practically non-existent. You can do a “details report” that lists each file on a separate page, but you can’t export multiple files with their custom data to a spreadsheet or a usable CSV. A usable CSV is on where fields are delimited by “commas”, and if data is lacking in a given field, a comma is still provided so that when that data is opened into Excel or another database, all the data lines up in the appropriate column.
As a company that does a lot of document assembly automation, I am often asked why can’t I use the data in my practice management system, here Credenza, to feed the answer file in my HotDocs templates. HotDocs has become more sophisticated in recent years. In the old days, you needed “field mapping” tools and special answer files and component files to connect a practice management system to HotDocs. Now, it’s really simple. All you need is an ODBC driver and an understanding of the data structure of the practice management database. You can even work with linking to data services, that serve as an intermediary between the database and HotDocs. For now, I am told there are no plans to connect to HotDocs, and the database is locked to access by any external program. Hopefully that will change in the future.
But for $19.99/month … Credenza is hard to beat. And for users, it functions as an Outlook plugin. My recommendation, for full security is for a client to get hosted Microsoft Exchange services so that their Outlook files are properly secured and backed up. That may add $10-15/month to the fee, but again no special hardware install or licensing is required. And many Hosted Exchange companies will toss in a license to the latest version of Outlook.