A Practice Management System (PMS) is one of the most important tools in any law firm. But nobody wants to invest time and money into a program that quickly falls short of their expectations a year down the road. During the selection process, you’ll probably use a number of resources to help you determine which program is right for you. Here are just a few tips for you when shopping for Practice Management Software.
Nowadays, the internet is the first place you probably go to learn about a Practice Management System. It’s the most efficient way to find reviews, check pricing and watch a quick demonstration before buying. But for more specific information, such as customization and integration options, you’re going to need to speak to an actual person.
Call the software vendor
The software vendor can give you a thorough demonstration of the product and answer any questions you have about pricing and technical support. However, the sales person is not obligated or even qualified to analyze your network and determine whether your hardware is sufficient in the context of everything else you run. If you’re going to make a decision based on what the vendor says, make sure you fully understand the technical requirements. Also, remember who’s side of the fence they’re on. Their job is to sell you their software – even if it’s not the best option for your law firm.
Ask a colleague or friend
Many attorneys prefer to buy the Practice Management System that a buddy from law school uses, or whatever they used in the last firm they were with. The upside is that you get an honest perspective from someone who has used the software in the real world, and you may already know how to use it. Just remember, there are a ton of great Practice Management Systems on the market, all of which have vastly different features. Figure out which features are most important to your firm before purchasing. Do you require mobile access? What kind of reports do you want to run? Is the PMS customizable to the type of law you practice? Click here for more tips on choosing the right PMS.
Talk to an Independent Consultant
There are a growing number of independent legal technology consultants these days. Many of them have worked in a law firm and have years of experience installing PMS in law firms of all practice areas and sizes. Independent consultants are required to attend annual training by the software manufacturer and pass rigorous exams in order to support their product. A truly independent consultant should not have an allegiance to a specific brand of software – their focus is on finding which one is best for your firm. While consultants often make a margin on the sale of a PMS, they’re usually pretty small. And sometimes they will pass the discounts on to you, making it less expensive than purchasing from the vendor directly. Consultants make their money by performing the labor in installation and customization work, not by selling products. An independent consultant will often give you a decent amount of time (for free) to help you investigate the program they represent. Your best option is to find a consultant with knowledge of multiple programs, so that you can get a side-by-side comparison.
Law firms come in all shapes and sizes, but so do Practice Management Systems. There are a ton of resources you can look to when selecting a PMS, so do your research before purchasing.
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