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Why Can’t I Get the Report I Want (Part 3)

Recap of Part 2

· Your law firm implemented a DataMart to assist with writing reports.

· You are now able to write reports quickly and accurately using summarized data.

· You can now start to build a library of management reports using SSRS.

Ok, now that you started building a set of management reports, we will discuss methods to get these reports delivered to those who need to consume the information.

Subscriptions: A subscription is the best way to distribute reports that need to be reviewed by attorneys on a regular basis. An SSRS subscription will send the report to an individual on a scheduled basis via Email. The Email can include the report as an attachment or as a link to the report. The choice of using a link or an attachment may be determined by your firm’s network capacity and security structure. However, given that many attorneys will want to view the report on their mobile phone or tablet, a PDF attachment will achieve a better view rate.

Take care to not overuse subscriptions by limiting their use to critical reports. An attorney who is bombarded with report Emails will start ignoring them.

Reports such as New Matters with Related Parties, Daily Cash Receipts and Missing Time are well suited for subscription delivery.

Self Service Access: Self Service is a great approach for those reports that are only needed occasionally. Your firm can setup a reporting portal where users can run reports on demand. Self Service is also the best way to provide access to accounting staff or department managers who need to run reports.

Reports such as Bill and Payment History, Open Invoices, and Client Accounts Receivable listing are well suited for self-service access.

Properly executed, access to these reports can be incorporated into your time and billing system, your firm’s intranet, or any other place that attorneys already visit on a regular basis.

Printing: Yes, in today’s highly automated world you can still print reports! Many firms distribute a printed report pack or “Board Book” to each partner on a monthly basis. Historically, this was a major task to print and collate all the reports to be distributed. Using SSRS you can automate this previously manual process by incorporating several reports into a single report. For example, you can build one report that would include the following “sub-reports”

· Billing Attorney Summary

· Billing Attorney Fees Collected

· Billing Attorney Fees Billed

· Billing Attorney Aged WIP

· Bill Attorney Aged AR

You can now simply send this single report with multiple sub-reports to the attorney.

Export to Excel for Analysis: Unlike most standard reports built into your software, SSRS reports can easily be exported to Excel in a format that requires little to no cleanup of the data. This is a great feature to use if you want to do additional analysis, create pivot tables, or graphs using the data from the report.

Summary

In this three-part series, we discussed the reporting challenges faced by most law firms. It all starts with the fact that your firm’s Practice Management system lacks the flexibility to develop the reports your firm really wants, resulting in the need to develop custom reports. Developing these reports can be expensive and time consuming but there is an approach that can reduce cost and significantly reduce development time.

Implementing a set of summary data, or DataMarts, will provide easy access to your data without having to write complex SQL queries. This approach will result in quicker development time, faster run times, and more accurate results in your reporting.

Finally, once your reports are ready for production, you must determine the best way to distribute them to those who need access. Subscriptions, self service and even printing are viable options.

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