Right from the start of my Centerbase demonstration, I knew something was different about the company and application.
The walkthrough began… at a law firm’s website.
I’ve talked a lot about the need for CRM features or add on services for case management systems. Because functionally, the two tools do very different things. Centerbase considers the need for both a powerful legal practice management solution, and features to support rainmaking activities.
The solution reminds me of the hundreds of thousands of dollars I have watched enterprise companies spend on implementing Salesforce. Plus, the full-time employee admin you need in-house to adapt the tools to meet business needs over time.
Centerbase, with a diverse feature set, lives in the space between the household names in cloud case management and the legacy systems so many law firms are trying to leave. Many of which haven’t been able to because the systems either a) couldn’t migrate their data or b) don’t have the built-in tools to match years of consultant customizations.
The system was originally built as an internal tool, which means it has more road-testing than many of the new applications we’ve seen enter the market. Another benefit, is that the team must ‘eat their own dog food’ which if you’ve ever talked to anyone who worked at a software company, it can be painful… unless you know what you’re doing.
They are methodical in their approach to features, and only build what they know they can execute well. Hence the list of integrations seen below. One of the standout areas of Centerbase are their workflows. A clear strength for this group, and one of my favorite areas to share with you.
Every end goal inside the law firm is driven by a workflow. Of which each task or action can be completed by a human, or automatically fulfilled by the system. Here’s a quick example of what a combination of the two looks like.
First, a prospect fills out a form on the law firm’s website. Next, Centerbase – creates a contact and labels as ‘potential new clients’ or other based on where the contact came from.
Then, you have the choice to enter that contact into an automated workflow, let’s say for marketing purposes. Or, if you schedule a consultation, place them into a consultation workflow that automatically creates documents, calendar entries, assigns tasks and generates an initial invoice. All created from one decision.
Active vs Passive Workflows
The difference to note here is that most ‘task lists’ are checklists. Which are great for keeping the law firm’s team on the same page. With Centerbase, you can use active workflow tools to merge documents, generate invoices, and more without requiring a human to physically do anything. Now, the intake staff’s role becomes client service, and reviewing documents for accuracy instead of doing everything manually or creating them from scratch.
Another workflow use case is marketing, or client engagement. Communication is a challenge for all law firms. Not just for new leads, but for existing clients as well. Create an appointment workflow for potential new clients. Or a series for your family law clients, providing simple information about child custody, divorce, or other matter type to keep in touch and help them stay positive.
Inception – Workflows within Workflows
Here’s where it gets interesting. Not only can you have one fluid set of tasks, scheduling appointments, generating invoices, and marketing tasks complete. You can branch the workflow, to send a set of sub-tasks to a user. Then, when completed, run the rest of the original workflow’s actions to finish the series.
Administrator Tools for Workflow Management
As an administrator, you can automatically reassign entire workflows, active or new to a particular attorney. And, if a staff change occurs, associate leaving or someone taking vacation, look up and re-assign open tasks to an alternate team member.
Native Microsoft Word Add-In
If you follow me, you know how much I love Microsoft Word. Well, I love a great MS Word add-in even more. Systems that integrate with MS Word demonstrate their value, over and over again in daily life. Document management tools are only as good as the actions they force users to make, or make easier to use.
Directly inside a document, Centerbase users can;
- Save As – Right back to the matter file
- Bill a Document
- Make a copy and add to another matter
- Revise and Version a document
- Insert information from a contact, matter, or any custom field
- Documents automatically lock when open or edited by another user
An impressive list, and beautiful toolbar in the one application lawyers use more than nearly anything else in their office. It’s thoughtful integrations like this that motivate users to leverage all the features Centerbase has to offer.
Bi-directional calendar sync, and real-time updates make for happy uses. As we all know, the calendar rules law firm life. And with all those powerful workflows running, usually across multiple law firm office locations, there’s no time to waste.
For hardcore Document Management Solution needs, an integration with NetDocuments is available. Document stores are tied to individual matters, and update version history with every save.
The Centerbase team is honest about what the software can and cannot do. An integration with QuickBooks gives extended options to law firms who need advanced accounting features, beyond what’s already built into center base.
Billing, Invoicing, Accounting, and Payments via LawPay
One of the deepest LawPay integrations in the cloud provider space, manage IOLTA / Trust and standard payments directly inside the application. Auto-apply funds from trusts, and pre-bill if you need to. Post transactions, cut checks, and view balance details without ever having to leave.
On the accounting front, generate a Chart of Accounts, Ledger Balance, reports on billing codes and manage a general ledger.
Usability Wow Features
Keyboard shortcuts, hot keys, and right click menu options make it even easier to transition from a legacy system. An application must feel like home, and by adding these simple options users can learn how to use Centerbase faster.
Migration, Onboarding, and the Centerbase Consultant Network
During our demo, there was a group of Centerbase Consultants at their offices training. To move a law firm away from a Time Matters, Time Slips, Amicus, Abacus, PCLaw or other Legacy solution, takes knowledge and hard work.
The reason why so many firms haven’t moved to the cloud is because moving sucks! Not only does Centerbase offer a platform that can be customized to mirror and improve the processes and systems a law firm spent years to build in a legacy product. But they have an incredible network of consultants who can help you do it too.
A data Migration wizard is available for the initial import. From there, a consultant will help design and set up all of the cool systems you can build specific to your practice area.
A powerhouse of workflow tools and customizable option make Centerbase an attractive solution for law firms struggling with an aging system. Don’t view, leaving a legacy solution as a loss. Look at this as your opportunity to refresh the digital processes you created over the years in a far more capable program.
For more information about Centerbase, call and schedule a demo at (214) 987 9000. Or request to be contacted by one of their knowledgeable platform consultants at legal.centerbase.com.