The Hidden Costs of Poor Activity Tracking Habits

//The Hidden Costs of Poor Activity Tracking Habits

At the end of the week do you often look back and wonder what in the world you and your team members spent your 40+ working hours on? If so, that question can lead to bigger ones, like:

  • Are we distributing our workload properly?
  • Are we maximizing our time and resources?
  • Is our firm really profitable?

A failure to quickly and easily answer questions like these is a sure sign that your firm doesn’t have effective activity tracking practices and systems in place. Unfortunately, a lack of business intelligence isn’t the only negative consequence firms experience when they fail to master activity tracking. Here are some of the others:

Unproductive meetings

Everyone has seen the meme of the frustrated employee rolling their eyes because someone called a meeting to address something that very well could have been handled in a chat or an email. Don’t be that co-worker. Meetings should be reserved for work that requires in-depth collaboration and strategic thinking, and when you do have to hold a meeting, you should always come prepared with an agenda and walk away with clear next steps.

So how can sound activity tracking practices help you avoid unnecessary meetings? When you have software in place that tracks how members of your firm are spending their days, you can quickly spot bad meeting patterns and squash them before they become real problems. If you notice a few team members who are spending far more time in meetings than others, you can help them identify other, more productive ways to collaborate. Or, if your entire firm is becoming bogged down by meetings, you can seek out strategic opportunities to combine several meetings into one and tools that make digital collaboration easier.

Inaccurate billing

How much time do you waste each week tracking what you’re working on and for whom? And how often do you make mistakes when it comes to tracking your activities? If your answer is something along the lines of “too much,” and “too often,” you’re not alone. Many legal professionals only bill for 67% of the time they work, leaving a huge amount of time (and money) on the table.

The culprit is bad activity tracking practices, and the answer is smart technology. We might be a little biased, but we suggest choosing a practice management solution like Smokeball that has an activity tracking tool built right in. Smokeball’s Activity Intelligence (Ai) is the first comprehensive activity tracking and reporting tool designed specifically for small law firms. It automatically captures every appointment, email exchanged, task completed and phone call made, converting data on all the activities your firm engages in into reports that help you uncover opportunities to optimize your work. This intelligence makes it much easier to track and accurately bill for the work you do, and also provides you with a proven record of all the work done during the life of a matter.

Choosing the wrong clients

When new business comes knocking on your door, it’s often hard to turn it away. After all, new business means more money for your small law firm. But as any attorney knows, all clients are not created equal. Some opportunities will be a great fit for your firm, and you’ll be productive and profitable in your work with these types of clients. Others will cause you to make ineffective use of your time and resources, and to come up short on the money you’re making for the time you’re actually spending on their matters.

What if you knew upfront that a client wouldn’t be profitable? Would you still say yes? Of course not.

Tools like Smokeball’s Activity Intelligence make it easy to determine which types of clients and projects are most and least profitable for your firm. Armed with historical data about how you’ve served other clients, you will be able to make an educated decision about what’s best for your small law firm and stop saying yes to business that is bad for your bottom line.

Curious about how tools like Smokeball Activity Intelligence can help you make problems like these a thing of the past? Let’s talk about how we can take your small law firm into the next generation.

By |May 10th, 2016|

About the Author:

For years, Josh has helped lawyers become more organized, productive, and profitable. A trained litigator, Josh came to Smokeball from a large east-coast law firm where his practice focused on franchise, insurance, marine, and general litigation. His work with Smokeball, and his continued passion for what he does each day, is driven by a desire to help lawyers and their staff do better in every way. Knowing well the stress and strain put on today’s legal professional, he regularly focuses on improving work and life in the law. He has traveled the country working with and learning from lawyers and their staff. Josh speaks regularly to bar associations about successful law firm practices and other legal topics. Recent notable engagements have been with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference. In addition to his work at Smokeball, Josh serves on the Writing Resource Center staff at The John Marshall Law School. Besides legal technology, his research interests include judicial decision-making, jury decision-making and psychology, and legal writing. He has written and overseen research exploring causal effects of sex/gender on federal appellate court decision-making, and assisted with research for a forthcoming textbook on judicial decision-making. Additionally, Josh sits on the Board of Directors of Chicago-based Community Activism Law Alliance and on the Board of Directors of Chicago Fringe Opera Company. Josh holds his J.D., cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Wash. U. Law Review, held the prestigious Thompson Coburn Research Fellowship, served as Research Assistant to then-Vice-Dean (now Chancellor) Andrew D. Martin, and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.M. in Music Performance with Honors Scholar distinction from the University of Connecticut, making him a Huskies basketball fan through and through. Follow Josh’s activity on LinkedIn, and keep up with new articles on the Smokeball Blog.