Sunday, August 28, 2011

Explanation Codes

Explanation codes are an invaluable tool for speeding up any type data entry, and they can also be used when doing Quick Bills. The point is to reduce the number of mouse clicks and typing. Instead, let PCLaw do most of the work for you, simply by typing a short code in the explanation code box.

For payables, using a code like “cre” can fill in the explanation with Courier Expense, automatically determine that HST applies, and post it to Delivery Expense. Assign a companion code “cr” for use in Expense Recovery, that can be set as taxable and post to Delivery Recovery.

The key to being efficient when setting up codes, is to assign a good, full explanation. However, the explanations should not be too specific, but rather a generic description of one task that can be used in various circumstances. You can always edit the text to add specifics if you really want to. And, be sure to assign all your the expense and recovery codes to G/L accounts, and set their respective default tax categories.

Setting up explanation codes with the G/L accounts assigned creates a more uniformed system for entries. An explanation code that is not assigned a G/L account, leaves the individual making the entry guessing where to posted the expense, creating random entries dependant on who is doing the work.

For fee entries, the sky is the limit as to how you design your explanation codes. How about “rep” for a real estate purchase, which inserts the following:

TO acting for you as well as the lender with respect to placing a new first mortgage; 
TO performing a sub-search of title and to making such other investigations and inquiries as were required by the company providing title insurance to the lender;  
TO all correspondence with the title insurance company, and to completing its required forms and documentation, and to reporting to the title insurer after closing; 
TO searching for executions; 
TO verifying adequate fire insurance coverage;  
TO preparation of required documentation;  
TO all correspondence with the mortgagee and to providing any required draft documents prior to closing;  
TO meeting with you to sign all necessary documents; 
TO registering the deed and mortgage; 
TO receiving funds from the mortgage advance into our trust account; 
TO reporting to you following closing;  
TO submitting a final report to the mortgagee;”

Now, is not “rep” a lot faster than doing all that typing?

The sample books in PCLaw have quite an extensive list of explanation codes and task codes, which you may wish to print off and review for ideas. To print a list of codes: Options – Lists – Explanation Codes or Task Codes – Print. Be creative. Try to add as many of your repetitive tasks as possible. When you are done, print off your own list for easy reference.

As always, I invite your comments and suggestions for future posting topics. Next week – How does virtual legal bookkeeping work?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Keyboard Shortcuts

It is sometimes easier and faster to use keyboard shortcuts than it is to use your mouse, especially if the function you want is not on the Quick Step menu. PCLaw has pre-assigned keyboard shortcuts for the most common functions as listed below:

CTRL + A General Retainer CTRL + N New Matter
CTRL + B Bill CTRL + O Open Matter
CTRL + C Copy selected text to clipboard CTRL + P Pre-Bill
CTRL + D Deposit Slip CTRL + Q Quick Timer
CTRL + E Expense Recovery CTRL + R Receive Payment
CTRL + F Find Window CTRL + S Time Sheet
CTRL + G General-to-General Transfer CTRL + T Trust Receipt
CTRL + H General Cheque CTRL + U New Payable
CTRL + I Firm Receipt CTRL + V Insert text from clipboard
CTRL + J G/L Adjustment CTRL + W Change/Write Off Bill
CTRL + K Trust Cheque CTRL + X (no function)
CTRL + L Client Ledger CTRL + Y Matter Manager
CTRL + M Mortgage Amortization CTRL + Z Trust-to-General Transfer

F1 Help

CTRL + F1 Box Pop Up Help

SHIFT+ F1 Field (Box) Help

If a function that you use often is not on this list, you can add your own user defined shortcuts. Options – Customize – Keyboard – select category i.e. file, reports, data entry, etc. - scroll until you find the function. Once you have found and clicked on the function you want, type the shortcut in the “Press New Shortcut Key”. The program will confirm whether your shortcut is unassigned – if unassigned, click “Assign”. Continue adding shortcuts or “Close”.

Note that on the above list, the default shortcuts are all Ctrl + letter.  You could assign your user defined shortcuts to ALT + letter. I suggest not using Shift + letter, as this can create problems when you just want to capitalize while typing.

As always, I invite your comments and suggestions for future posting topics. Next week – Explanation Codes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Favourites Tab

The Quick Step menu in PCLaw has separate tabs grouping the buttons for everyday tasks into 6 major categories: Time/Fees, Client Costs, Trust, Billing, Client Receipts, and Accounts Payable (may differ on older versions). Many of these tabs have only two or three buttons, and you must flip between the tabs throughout the day.

The Favourites tab allows you to place all the buttons you use every day on one tab. Just right click anywhere on the Favourites page, “Add Button”, and scroll through the lists to find the one you want. The New QuickStep allows for up to 15 buttons. For everyday use, you might want:

1. General Cheque
2. Receive Payment
3. Trust Cheque
4. Trust Receipt
5. Fee Sheet
6. Create Pre-Bill
7. Create Bill
8. Quick Bill
9. Expense Recovery.

You might want to add:
1. Quick Timer
2. Undo Bill
3. Past Due Notice

These are suggestions only – every firm is different. If you never use Quick Bills, there is no point in adding it to your Favourites. Likewise, if you only rarely undo bills, do not place the button on your Favourites page. Of course, all of these buttons still appear on the other tabs or the pull down menu, if you need them. The idea is to have only the buttons you use frequently, and not to allow for every possibility.

You can also add reports too, like General Bank Journal, Trust Bank Journal, and Accounts Receivable Reports. Basically, add anything you use on a regular basis.

My suggested list above has 12 buttons. Did you know that you can also add other applications like Word, WordPerfect, etc. to your PCLaw tabs? Right click on the page, “Add Button”, and scroll down to “Application Launcher”, then browse to the program file you need. Everything you use on a daily basis can be placed in this one convenient location.

As always, I invite your comments and suggestions for future posting topics. Next week – Keyboard Shortcuts.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Workstation Settings

These settings below are suggested from the point of view of day to day usage, and some settings you may want to turn on for a limited time, and then turn off.

Carry forward

Selecting “Carry Matter Nickname Forward on Time Sheet” uses the same matter nickname in the Time Sheet feature as was used on a previous entry. Handy if you are doing multiple entries on the same file.

To use the same matter nickname in the trust cheque and receipt features as is found on the previous entry, select “Remember Last Matter When Creating New Trust Cheque and Receipt”.

If you are doing multiple entries on the same file, both of the above settings can save re-entering the matter number over and over again.

Repetitive Tasks

Alternatively, if you are doing a series of one type of entry – i.e. entering a bunch of A/R cheques for deposit, doing 10 bills in a row, etc., removing the checkmark from “Close data entry windows on OK” is a handy feature.

This setting can be left on if you are comfortable with switching windows. Open your first task. Then - Data Entry, or Window (Alt + W) – Quick Step – to open another task. To switch windows Alt + W, then enter the number shown for the window you want. You can easily move from bill to cheque, then cheque to receipt, etc.

Only one issue of concern – you cannot do two similar functions. For example, you cannot have “Trust Cheque” and “Trust to General Transfer” open at the same time, as the program cannot obtain two cheque numbers at the same time. When you get an error message, just close the window you do not need and re-open the one you want.

Spell Checking

Checkmark “Use Spell Checking”. To have PCLaw automatically spell check entries when you click OK, select “Automatic on OK”. I usually uncheck the “Use Spell Check Complete Message”, as it saves the step of dismissing this message on every entry.

As always, I invite your comments and suggestions for future posting topics. Next week – Favourites Tab.