Smokeball Killer Features Series: Activity Intelligence

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Activity Intelligence—the name says it all!  It’s the perfect feature to kick off our new Smokeball Killer Features Series on the Smokeball blog.  

With the legal billing landscape changing constantly to differentiate firms competitively, Smokeball realized that arming its clients with data on their most valuable commodity—time—was essential. Activity Intelligence helps lawyers realize (and bill for) the value they provide clients by tracking exactly what is done on each file. Even if a lawyer does not bill by the hour, tracking time and activities is of the utmost importance. Clients want to pay for value provided, so lawyers need to keep track not only of their time, but exactly what that time was spent doing and what value was derived from it on the matter. With Activity Intelligence, lawyers of all stripes can knowledgeably bill and adjust their practices to achieve less stress, more profit, and more overall success.

It’s perfect because it is a true differentiator in the law practice management software market. Believe it or not, Smokeball legal practice management software captures all the time you spend in its system and its integrated Word and Outlook systems to deliver a down-to-the-second duration for each activity performed.  With the data that Activity Intelligence collects, your firm has never been smarter and legal billing has never been easier.

Smokeball built this feature to fill a gaping void in other software on the market. No other system can track all time spent in Word documents, emails, and on administrative tasks within the software in a way that then associates that time back to correct file for billing or profitability analysis (or both). No other practice management software on the market simultaneously tracks your time and associates that time to the correct matter. Most practice management software expects you to keep track of various timers manually and then figure out where that time belongs at the end of the day; with Smokeball, all that happens for you. Starting and stopping timers manually should not be a lawyer’s main focus throughout the day. Additionally, unlike other software, Smokeball will do all the math for you overnight and build billable time entries from what was automatically tracked. Armed with this data, we saw endless opportunity for small firms around key performance indicator creation or simply saving time manually typing in what firm members did in a day. So often we heard of firms bleeding time due to interruptions or simply forgetting things done. We were also tired of the horror stories from flat-fee and contingency firms of trying to recreate months of time to prove what they did. All of those horror stories stop here with Smokeball’s first highlighted Killer Feature, Activity Intelligence.

So far, the industry has noticed the difference!  Smokeball client Josh Boehm recently noted that using this particular feature “has increased [his] law firm’s profitability by over 30%.” Because time and value added no longer go untracked, many others have noticed the same increase. Talk about killer.

Activity Intelligence Main Screens

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Activity Intelligence is unmatched in the legal case management world.  It is the pioneer feature in legal time tracking.  Firms can now keep track of everything done in a given period of time on every matter.  That data can be viewed across all matters or within single matters. Not only that, Smokeball utilizes internal timers to report down-to-the-second “time spent” on a particular activity.  From that, Smokeball will even calculate a billable “duration” amount should you want to put the activity performed onto an invoice. This billable duration is automatically calculated based on your firm’s billable increment of 6 minutes or 15 minutes; for emails, the billable duration rounds up to 1 minute.

Simply double-click on any reported activity in your Activity Intelligence screen to open the related item.  For example, if the reported activity is on a document, simply double-click to have Smokeball open that very document.  Do this before adding to a bill so that you know exactly what’s going onto the client invoice. Additionally, make edits to the duration should you want to further round up or down for certain activities.

For gaps in what Smokeball can see, you have the ability to manually add Activities to Activity Intelligence.  Simply click to add a new Activity, and it is added to the Activity Intelligence screen for reporting purposes or to add to an invoice.  This often comes in handy for legal research online or at the library that Smokeball cannot automatically capture. This can be done from Smokeball on your computer or the Smokeball mobile app, making it one of the best law firm apps out there (but more on that in another Killer Features post)!

Add Captured Time to Bills

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Activity Intelligence legal time tracking software generates time spent data that can be added to invoices if you are billing clients for your time.  Adding captured time can happen in two different ways: manually or automatically.

Manually Add Time to Bills

On the Activity Intelligence screens (general or matter level) you can click “add” to push the captured time into Smokeball Billing for inclusion on an invoice.  Smokeball’s Time Finder will also present you with time in Activity Intelligence that has not yet been pushed into Smokeball Billing so that you can determine whether you want it on a bill, don’t want it on a bill, or want to hang onto it/edit it before it goes into Billing.

Let Auto:Time Add Time to Bills For You

Auto:Time is a Smokeball feature that picks up where Activity Intelligence leaves off.  If you find it particularly hard to get time into your system before bills are due, let Auto:Time do it for you!  Auto:Time will take any captured time in Activity Intelligence and add it to Smokeball Billing overnight for users with Auto:Time enabled.  Users can still make edits to the entries once they are in the Billing system, but the manual reviewing and adding is not necessary.

Gain Insight into Firm Activity

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Smokeball’s Activity Intelligence data feeds directly into business intelligence dashboards for firm owners.  Set overhead and salary calculations to determine what the time spent on certain things costs compared to what you are making.  This is essential for hourly billers and flat-fee firms. Even contingency practices gain great insight into where their team’s time is going, and the data is there to use just in case of a fee-proving situation.

Data available from Activity Intelligence is delivered to firm owners in a variety of helpful ways.  Review profitability and time spent by matter, matter type, and by employee. These reports will deliver data on time spent, staff costs, estimated profits, entered fees, and even realization rates.  

Activity Intelligence arms you with data to steer your firm towards more efficiency and hopefully higher profit.  Smokeball’s pioneering and unparalleled Activity Intelligence feature is truly killer.  For more information on this feature, contact your Smokeball Account Manager today.

If you are not currently a Smokeball client and would like to see this Smokeball Killer Feature in action, schedule a demo with us today by clicking here.

By | July 26th, 2018|

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. 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.

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