If you’re like most firms then your upcoming client meetings are a good indicator of potential payments. As a result the shared client calendar ends up being the de-facto cash flow report for the firm. Blank spaces on the client calendar probably mean blank spaces in your cash flow.
Your accountant might tell you that you’re using the wrong tool for the job and you should be looking at the cash-flow statement. But (and you probably already know this) your accounting system won’t tell you about potential cash from initial meetings with prospective clients. It will only tell you about payments due for fees billed (and in some cases for unbilled work-in-progress).
Cash flow management is critical in small/medium firms because if you get it wrong there is only one lever to pull to fix it: paying yourself (or not paying yourself, to be precise). So your gut instinct is probably correct; your calendar is a good leading indicator of potential cash.
This was an “aha!” moment for Actionstep. After years of designing custom workflows for law firm clients a common requirement was making provision for collecting cash at meetings, and for designing calendar reports showing potential payments, it finally dawned on them! If you link the calendar to CRM and accounting then the calendar really can function as an accurate cash flow tool.
Not only that, but if your calendar is wired to your CRM and accounting then it should be able to tell you proactively if you can expect to get cash at a meeting when you set the appointment.
And that’s exactly what they did. Since Actionstep is a fully integrated practice management system the links were already there so it was not a difficult job, but what a difference it made to the users. Now when you create an appointment Actionstep automatically checks CRM, scheduled payments, work-in-progress, and unpaid bills to alert you of any payments that could possibly be collected at the meeting. You can choose which items and amounts they wish to collect and link these to the appointment in the calendar.
The icing on the cake was to create a customizable “list view” of the calendar appointments and include the collection amount as a column with a total at the bottom. By selecting a date range you suddenly have an accurate cash flow forecast that is easily maintained by your front office staff – and you might just get a full paycheck this month ☺.