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Practice Management & Billing & Accounting - One Cloud Vendor?

Written by Jeff Stouse on 18 March 2013.

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More often than some cloud-based practice management vendors would like to admit, the choice of a cloud-based practice management system by a firm doing more than "simple" billing is often "steered" to one that offers both a full-featured PM system and a full-featured billing/accounting system. This comes from two simple reasons: 1) firms don't want to have to talk to two vendors to get any PM-Billing/Accounting issues resolved, and 2) cloud-based PM systems are often simpler and easier to use - hence any billing/accounting offerings are perceived to be the same, and something that most firms would want to have.

Does this make it more difficult for a cloud-based Practice Management vendor to deliver a product offering that meets this standard? Absolutely, but look at the players in the current lan-based Practice Management offerings: Amicus Attorney offers its own accounting module; Lexis Nexis Time Matters pairs with either Billing Matters or PC Law; STI offers Practice Master paired with Tabs. The fact that these pairings are some of the most popular choices by firms is no coincidence. If a firm trusts the software vendor for their billing/accounting needs, then it follows that they would (at the very least) review any practice management software offered by the same vendor.

Simple is important: one call to one vendor offers the promise (should) of all the answers to be had. Integration (see LexisNexis and PC Law) offers its own challenges. Links between programs face the constant challenges of conflicting upgrades, major interface and API (application programming interface) changes, and lack of basic communication between the two vendors. (It seems that every vendor that links to another program thinks that the user (the firm) will always side with their product when it comes time to decide whether or not to upgrade and deal with a new set of issues caused by an out-of-step pair of vendors. What they don't realize is that while they may "win" the battle, they are losing the war of "when it comes time to choose our next system, we will want to avoid this situation..."

With Advologix, the Salesforce-based cloud-based practice management solution, the Salesforce platform is designed to have two different vendors supply the pieces. With the AppExchange home to over  10,000 different apps, the goal is to mix and match the "best of breed" solutions so that every department in the company can use the tools they want to get their respective jobs done quickly and efficiently.

A robust newcomer to the cloud-based practice management market, Centerbase is putting the finishing touches on their accounting module, which will incorporate desired flexibility when it comes to the various partner payouts, but also provide ease of use when collecting billable time and flat rate billing.