Let’s think for a moment what exactly users want in a Practice Management (PM) solution in the cloud, it is not to have the data in a datacenter, it is not to have a reduced the number of features compared to what they already are enjoying with the Practice Management Software installed in theirs PCs, but it is the ability to access the their client information and the ability to bill from as many devices as possible anywhere. We all like to have a direct connection to our client information. We like to be able to look up our calendar without worrying if all the information came over the Outlook link. We like to bill for that call we get when we are out of the office or that urgent e-mail in the evening at home. We like to track and bill for everything we do.
It is true that the cloud puts your data in a data center but right now all these cloud solutions are not very mature like the Practice Management Software on your PC nor have had enough development time to make the existing capability of regular PM software work smooth. It could be that you can’t generate a document from a template, easily attach an e-mail to a file, or add a series of linked events in the calendar.
So is there a good solution that gives me the benefits of both the cloud and the local PC? Yes. I call it “Hybrid Cloud”. The information still resides on your server at the office but you can still access most of your information through a web browser, from a smart phone, a tablet, a PC or Mac at an Internet café. Coming back from the Amicus Attorney conference in Toronto and seeing where the software vendors are going, it seems to me that for those who are not comfortable in having their firm information held by a third party (that if you miss a payment they may lock you out of your data), or don’t want to give up the current workflows that they already have on their Practice Management Software at the office, they can get it all with the new Amicus Attorney Premium 2013 with Amicus AnyWhere and TimeTracker.
Amicus Attorney Premium has been developed over many years and it is stable. With this new iteration Amicus gained substantial speed and compatibility with all the new Windows 8, Windows 2012 Server and Office 2013. In addition with a few clicks we can enable Amicus AnyWhere to the users/timekeepers that need to access most of their information and be able to bill from anywhere there is Internet connection. Amicus AnyWhere takes the interface from Amicus Cloud, which was designed for use on mobile devices. Accessing the files, contacts, appointments, tasks, time sheets and more is strangely similar to Amicus Attorney on the desktop.
What we also learn at the conference was that Amicus AnyWhere can be updated on the fly and new capabilities added at any time as they get developed.
Does that mean that the cloud is not for any one? No. There are very specific situations where a cloud solution is ideal (attorneys in different geographical locations); however, many of my clients are asking if they should move to the cloud. For many of them the only reason they want to move to the cloud is to bill time, check client’s files and calendar info. From my experience over 17 years as an IT consultant for law firms, most clients still benefit more from a “traditional” solution but need accessibility to their data from anywhere.
In order to make decisions about technology we need to start by looking at the firm processes. Ask yourself what do I need and where do I need it. Don’t let yourself get confused by the shiny new features of some cloud vendors but look at the whole picture. Let the cloud mature first. Also look if you are using your current Practice Management software to its fullest potential. If you are not sure what is the best solution start by writing down a list of all the processes you need then call a good Practice Management Consultant to go over those needs and that should give you an answer to where to go next.
Paolo Broggi, IT Engineer
Amicus, Timeslips, Worldox, Evolve Certified Consultant
Law Firm Consultants since 1996
355 8th Street, Suite 200
San Francisco, CA 94103