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Introduction 

The world of office automation is constantly expanding. It would be senseless to think that anyone could make an effective decision regarding technology, without a carefully thought out analysis of need. Following is a list of questions to ask yourself in the process of determining what fits your practice needs best.

Checklist 

  1. Which functions are automated now – which additional functions do we wish to automate?
  2. Are existing pieces of equipment mutually compatible?
  3. Does everyone in the office use the same software?
  4. Are our word processing procedures standardized?
  5. Is our billing system interfaced with accounting?
  6. Are the accounts payable checks computer generated – or prepared manually?
  7. Are we keeping track of client expenses, i.e.copies, fax, long distance, postage, etc.?
  8. Are we getting telephone messages delivered timely and accurately?
  9. Does the office get flooded with interoffice memoranda?
  10. Is the payroll prepared in house? Manually?
  11. Do the attorneys carry boxes to the court house?
  12. Do the paralegals spend hours preparing manual document index systems?
  13. How do we check for conflicts of interest?
  14. What type of calendering system do we use for docket control purposes?

Conclusion 

The answers to these questions need to be followed by an examination of reasons to automate. Just because there is some wonderful software package on the market does not mean that we have to toss out a perfectly good manual system!

Therefore, a cost/benefits analysis will give greater insight to the extent of automation needed.

An implementation schedule will be helpful to budget for this investment, and can be set up to accommodate several phases of implementation.

While going through this evaluation, think expansively! This pamphlet is only meant to begin the thought process of looking at your own practice. There may be additional issues and dynamics in your practice that must be taken into consideration in developing your needs analysis. The more time and effort you devote to properly planning your transition to an automated office, the greater the rewards.

Having gone through this exercise will give you the confidence to proceed with the decision to plan for the future!

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The information provided and the opinions expressed in this monograph are solely those of the author. Neither the State Bar of Texas nor the author are rendering legal, accounting or professional advice and assume no liability in connection with the suggestions, opinions, or products mentioned.