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I first wrote about the Timeslips time/billing/receivables program 13 years ago. From a stand-alone program running under MS-DOS, it has become a multiversioned enterprise-networkable program that comes with Borland’s Paradox database, and can also be hooked to Microsoft’s database engine and even turned into a SQL database that can handle at least middle-sized firms with, perhaps 100-150 timekeepers, although I certainly haven’t tested the program in such a configuration with such a substantial load. A Timeslips user can integrate with a data entry system in his Palm handheld, and a really peripatetic lawyer who seldom sees the inside of his office can make sure that his time gets billed by completing his time entry obligations, and even run reports and bills, by plugging his laptop into a hotel room’s dataport and using the vendor’s eCenter page on the Web. Although the vendor has had substantial problems at times, particularly with version 9, which had an amazing number of (free) downloadable updates published over its lifetime, Timeslips has, over the years, mostly been a reliable way for the solo to medium-size law firm to collect lawyer time and expenses, to produce bills and statements, to track payments and receivables, and to produce a wide variety of management reports. In late January, the vendor began shipping version 10.5. I took a look at the new upgrade. THE NEW STUFF It has been a while since I installed a clean version of Timeslips on a stand-alone computer that had not previously run the program. Installation was quick and easy, and I particularly noted and appreciated options to select from four typical billing styles and setups during the installation process. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about Timeslips over the years is the difficulty of preparing billing formats that give the lawyer and client all of the information and only the information they deem appropriate. The reason for the difficulty, of course, is that Timeslips lets the user deal with so many variables that making the right choices is often a matter of multiple trials and lots of error. The cornerstone of the new version seems to be easier to use, mostly because the “Navigator” interface that has been available on the last couple of versions of Timeslips has been converted from passive links to semi-automated tutorials on how to deal with various features of the program. This makes the Navigator a little less useful for experienced Timeslips users, but much more valuable in teaching new users how to use the program. Of course, an experienced user probably uses the program’s toolbar and pulldown menu to get to where he wishes to go, and doesn’t really need the crutch of the Navigator. Further, there are always Timeslips features that even experienced users haven’t used before or haven’t used for a long time. Online help is enhanced, integrated with various automated functions, and generally excellent. The vendor’s Web site offers a lot of useful information and helpful user discussion groups. Telephone support, however, has become costly. Designing a new billing format, generating a new report, or even setting up a new database becomes a lot easier with version 10.5. In addition, although I couldn’t quantify it, the new version seems to work a bit faster and with fewer glitches than the old one. SPLIT BILLING The major substantive feature added with the new version is the ability to set up split billings, so that time and expenses designated for a particular client are automatically spread to one or more additional client. Just set up a primary client and secondary clients for that primary client, and rules for the split, and Timeslips will automatically spread bills to the primary client among the entire client group. When I’ve had split billing situations in the past, mostly with affiliated clients, I gave each “secondary client” a copy of the primary client bill, with a statement of the portion of the primary client bill to be paid. When payment from a secondary client came in, I credited it to the primary client bill. Of course, I didn’t run the arrangement or the secondary client billings through Timeslips and couldn’t track the secondary client status through Timeslips. As I had only a couple of these, I could track the situation with a word processor note. I can imagine some situations where Split Billing would be very useful, and decided to set up a client group to try it out. The printed manual and the Timeslips help system agreed on how to do it: Go to the Billing Assistant and select the Split Billing Rules dialog box from the Billing Assistant menu. It took several minutes to realize that I couldn’t find the new feature on my Billing Assistant menu, to determine, from the Features Enabled dialog box chosen from the Setup pulldown menu, that split billing wasn’t enabled in my copy of the program. I had missed notices both on the Web site and in the manual that the split billing option must be purchased separately in the standard, non-Enterprise edition of Timeslips. A call to the vendor’s toll-free number confirmed that it is available to Standard edition users for $150. The feature is included with the 10.5 Enterprise edition. The Enterprise edition can be set up to work with a SQL database, and is preferred for any firm with more than 15 or 20 users, and undoubtedly required as the firm size increases. CONSIDERATIONS The friendly telephone salesman also confirmed that split billing is the major substantive feature added to 10.5 from the earlier 10.1. (He didn’t mention the possibility of moving the standard edition from Paradox to the Microsoft Database Engine, which is, I am told, available for the first time with the Standard 10.5.) The upgrade from Standard Edition 10 to Standard Edition 10.5 runs from $150 for a stand-alone computer to $2650 for 51 or more networked users. Add the above-mentioned $150 if you want split billing; new Standard Edition 10.5, costs about $400. An Enterprise Edition upgrade for a system with 50 users costs about $4,500, while a new 10.5 for a similar setup is about $7,600. If you’ve been happy with the operation of the older verison and don’t need the split billing feature, I suspect that you won’t bother with 10.5. If users have had difficulty learning to use and using version 10, feel that Paradox has been hampering system operation of the standard version and want to experiment with the Microsoft engine, or need spilt billing, the upgrade should prove useful. SUMMARY The new Timeslips, version 10.5, has made it much easier for new and inexperienced users to use the program. The major new feature, split client billing, requires an additional purchase for the upgraded Standard edition. DETAILS Timeslips, Version 10.5. Requires IBM PC or compatible running Microsoft Windows 95/98, NT 4.0 or 2000, and network, if networking desired. Price and additional requirements depend on service level and number of networked users. U.S. Holdings, Inc. 17950 Preston Road Dallas, TX 75252 Phone: (800) 285-0999 or (972) 818-3900 Fax:(:972) 248-0850 Web: www.timeslips.com E-mail: [email protected] Barry D. Bayer practices law and writes about computers from his office in Homewood, Ill. You may send comments or questions to his e-mail address, [email protected]or write c/o Law Office Technology Review, P.O. Box 2577, Homewood, IL 60430.

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