You’ve got all the bells and whistles in AbacusLaw – from the legal calendaring to conflict of interest reporting – but your dashboard is sitting there, lonely and sad. Luckily, our very own Tomas speaks dashboard fluently, and used his linguistic abilities to show dashboard tips and tricks in this week’s Free Training Friday.
About Free Training Friday: Since the beginning of 2017, we have been holding these free, 30-minute training hosted by our industry-leading experts and innovators who will teach you about AbacusLaw, Amicus Attorney, the Abacus Private Cloud, and everything in between. If you would like to request a topic, please email email@example.com.
Hello everybody. I hope everybody is having a wonderful, wonderful Friday. My name is Allyson, and I'm the Content Manager at Abacus. Today we will be showing you how to optimize the AbacusLaw dashboard. We get a lot of questions about this, so we're happy to do a Free Training Friday for you. Before we begin, a few housekeeping notes. Please feel free to type questions throughout the Webinar in the questions pop out, and we'll answer them in the order that they were received. It will be a 15-minute presentation, with a 15-minute Q&A.
Please let me introduce Tomas. Tomas applies his legal, technical, and business acumen to achieve workflow automation requirements for clients. He leads the Sales Engineering Team at Abacus, and is an expert in the product. Take it away Tomas!
Tomas Explains the AbacusLaw Dashboard
Thank you for that nice introduction. Welcome everybody, on a Friday morning. Today, we're going to cover the dashboard. The overall concept of using AbacusLaw boils down to practice automation. We'll take the concept of practice automation and apply it to the dashboard.
But what exactly is the dashboard? Understanding Abacus as a case management tool with integrated time billing, and accounting. That system contains all the information across all cases, all clients, all contacts, and everyone’s calendar. The documents you need, the emails you need, and even workflow processes can be standardized. That's the concept of the entire system: everything you need is assembled, is organized, and accessible within Abacus.
However, the understanding that we've learned when working closely with clients over time is, that on a daily basis you don't need access to all of the information in your system. Certainly, there's the reporting function. You can run a report at any time that will give you an accurate snapshot of the information, and that that report is designed to pull and display from the system. The dashboard actually changes that concept.
What the dashboard provides is focused information similar to a report really, but it's a focused bit of information that can be specific to that user. By user, I mean a credentialed, an individual with credentials that can log into the Abacus system. You have your user name, and password.
Your dashboard gives you a focused view, specific to that user. The focused view can help that user by showing a subset of information focused on productivity let's say, or case management, meaning just your cases. Cases of a specific type, or tasks of a specific type that are assigned either to you, or to others. You can pull aggregate totals (like expenses), and see an annual list view, a chart form as a way of getting insight into that.
Finally, it’s great for marketing purposes. You can use it to show what kind of clients you have and where your clients are coming from. If you're sending out information what have the responses been to a newsletter, or any other like I said marketing means. The dashboard really has many uses. Of course, it's meant to focus the information in Abacus, and present it in a way that's meaningful to that viewer.
Where’s the Dashboard?
In the Abacus system there are a number of ways that you can access the dashboard:
First off, you can have it open automatically when you access AbacusLaw. I've found that in an environment where maybe you have a couple of monitors, it's a nice way to have the dashboard pop-up, excuse me, on one of your monitors, and your dashboard and the Abacus program opening up on the other.
There's also a dashboard icon that you can click anytime to launch it. You can hit the F3 key on your keyboard, and under tools there is a dashboard launcher there as well. That's kind of the concept of the dashboard. How you can access it in the program in Abacus.
The focus today is not only what is the dashboard, but also how to access it? We've covered that, but now we're moving into customization. How do you create that focused view in Abacus so that it's starts, I'm sorry, in the Abacus dashboard so it's presents information from Abacus to you in a specific and meaningful way? Let's go ahead and jump to the dashboard.
I created one for the purposes of our conversation today. I've thrown everything in here, but understand that the customization of the dashboard means you can see one specific thing. You can see many different things, that's part the customization, or the advantage of the customizing it. The way the dashboard works is, each one of these square or rectangle sections is an app. The dashboard allows you to create a layout, putting or planning in the dashboard any number of apps that apply or make sense to you.
Let's take a look at some of the apps that I've added to my dashboard. I have an app at the top that shows me my tasks for any given time period. I prefer to see today's task, and I've set this up so that it shows me those tasks in priority order. Not only do I have visibility into a subset of tasks that I know are my mission critical things to get done, but I can right click on anyone of those and mark it done, or send a notification, or even bill for it. It's a nice way of having action, action item, actions built directly into a shortlist of tasks sorted by priority, and filtered by just my tasks in any given day.
Another example is here in the middle, these are deadlines. It's a subset and not an application. Not all events are in my calendar, instead just events that pertain to deadlines on cases that I'm responsible for. Right away I know this gives me eyes on visibility, piece of mind, and it avoids things falling through the cracks. Or what often happens is deadlines sneak up on you. All of sudden, two days before there's a scramble. That's disruptive, it's an inefficient way, and it's stressful. Why not have a dashboard app that shows me just deadlines in my system? Understand that the concept of showing just deadlines, deadlines can really be any type of task, or activity, or meeting, or appointment, or appearance let's say that you would like this dashboard to filter and show you.
Finally, if we move over here another app I created is a list view of events in my calendar. Events that have a document to be created, associated with them. Thing I like about it is, I can right click on that list or any item in that list, go to form generation, and create the form. If we've covered that top line let's say of apps, those are apps that are pulling information. They're from my calendar, but it's presented specific types of events in a meaningful way, then I can act on them. Whether it's to create a document, whether it's to round up my team and be aware of an upcoming deadline, or just having all of my tasks called out, listed, and prioritized for me.
That's a key example of how you might be able to tailor specific views of the calendar and tasks and a reminder, and what not, but in a meaningful way. I don't have to go find this information, or sort through different days in the calendar. Instead a lot of that information is organized, filtered, and presented to me. That's one aspect that's productivity focused, and helps you stay abreast of upcoming deadlines. Things that you're tracking that are meaningful, and important, and time balanced. You have all that information presented to you.
Next, I want to point out another important aspect of the dashboard: the ability to present information from the accounting side of things, the firm’s finances.
Here's an example of one: You can show billable time and dollars. I can toggle between those two criteria. The real goal is for whatever date range I'm looking for, I can certainly see my billable time or dollars, and I can also see other timekeepers in the firms current totals. It's a nice way to very quickly compare two things.
It's a nice way to have, for lack of a better word, a scoreboard. You can compare two the other individuals this is an example. This is real time information presented from the Abacus accounting as everyone's billing today, yesterday, and last week those totals are presented to me in a nice way where I can make a quick comparison.
Another example is the favorite and recent matters list. In the matters in AbacusLaw, you have all cases from a family. You can certainly sort them, and you can apply filters. This app shows me one, the matters that I pinned to the top of the list, they'll remain there so that's my shortlist for today, or this week, or whatever I'm focused on. As well as an ongoing, or continuing list of matters that I've accessed recently. It's a nice way of not only my favorites, starred, or pinned cases but also the ones that I've been touching recently I have quick access to them. Double clicking on any item in the list of course opens up that specific record.
I also have a quick notes feature. Notes, as you know can be stored, shared, and can very quickly be created or saved, stored as time. Notes become a good way of capturing information. Shared within the firm, archive it, and quickly convert a note into a billable record. I also have the ability with one button to take information on, and type in quickly in a note. Maybe I had brainstormed and typed it out. I can quickly make that a to-do in the system, and then assign it of course to myself, or someone else. It's another nice way to have that quick access. What we're really doing in this dashboard is, customizing it to present tools either for insight, or action with the fewest number of clicks. Meaning you don't go out and find the information. Instead, the information is presented in the way that the dashboard has been customized for you specifically.
Let's move on down the dashboard a little bit to see some of the other examples of things. Here's an example: A client asked me recently to create a chart that shows where the clients are coming from. That information is captured when you're creating a contact record for the client. How did you hear about us? Whatever information they might have found that lead them to the firm, you can capture that and then aggregate information can be presented to you in a nice chart. I know by percentage where clients are coming from. This can also be not just clients by referrals source, but also client by origin. Whether it is by Zip Code, or say there was a marketing campaign, if it's going to be responding to it. There are a number of different ways to identify how they've arrived at the firm. This is a nice way to have that metric. To know exactly where clients are coming from, and any other profile information that might be helpful in having a meaningful understanding as your client.
Another financial-based app here shows net income. I can also configure that. I'll click on this gear button for that app to show you how each apps settings can be set. I can select the chart type and even the color. I can have a nice visually pleasing color scheme of my choice. It is a nice way of understanding that each app presents information based on the settings that you give it. The customization is not only the dashboard as a whole, thinking of it as a leg out of that, but each app can be very specific in where it goes, what information it pulls, and how it's presented to you.
There's also other useful tool: calculating on the calendar. I get a chuckle sometimes because it seems so straightforward, but I use it a lot. The calendar already knows today is where I'm starting. What is three court days from today? It happens to be the 20th of March. It's a nice way to have that, should it be helpful as an app. If it's not helpful, I can simply remove it from my dashboard. Think of your layout, or multiple layouts that you might create. You might have one that's productivity focused. One that's management focused, whether it's personnel or information management.
Layouts are customizable, the apps within each layout is customizable. I should say that you can also apply permission to individuals that have those respect in the dashboard. An instance would be if staff, or a staff member doesn't have access to the accounting side in Abacus, if that's part of their security profile in their user credentials, the dashboard would also prevent them from adding an app that would show them that information. It's a nice way of understanding that your staff can use the dashboard, and are proactive in an efficient way. Also certain individual’s permission with the grants or restricted access to items, or information in the system, that is how those permissions are respected in the dashboard as well.
Some other dashboard apps I want to show you, here's a chart. This is a matters break down by attorney. I want to also point out that if I double click on the header bar of any app, it then becomes full screen in the dashboard. I could have many apps and have them have specific views, but at any point I can view it in a larger scale.
This is a nice app that shows me who in my firm is working on what. For example, Arthur has 26 cases, Neil has 9, and so on. This helps me do the following things:
Get a sense of who has bandwidth maybe if I'm assigning out new cases
Or if someone’s going on vacation, or maternity leave, these visuals help me breakout and understand exactly what's going on.
Understanding that the information that's stored in the AbacusLaw system, I'm just using the dashboard to have access to it.
So, we’ve touched on net income. We touched on clients. But here’s a couple others: names by classification code. What are they, and how many clients do we actually have at this given time? That is a nice way to have that information. A breakdown of matters, by case type. Of all of the cases that we are handling, I have immediate and instant access to an accurate chart that shows me that information. Building on some of the earlier concepts, even new webpages can be added. If I wanted to always have quick access to training videos within the Abacus system, it's a nice way to have that website updated and available to me.
If I used SharePoint to create a client portal, I can work on the case and know entering documents, share those. Have quick access to it. I can see daily tasks as an agenda. Scrolling down some other things that could be useful. Other websites, like Public Access to Court Electronic Records, or PACER. If I jump on that quickly, it becomes a good way for me to have detailed information and quick access. Instead, I can actually add my shortlist of webpages alongside my filtered view of information in the system, alongside either aggregate, or individual financial metrics.
That's a very quick overview. I understand I covered a lot of information. My goal today is to give you a sense of the dashboard. One, how can you customize individually in the firm? How permissions on an individual basis are respected in each app in the dashboard, and the layouts? Which layout has which apps? With the goal being you have full control over what you're viewing at any given time, and you really get to maximize the advocate dashboard as a series, or a group of apps that are in essence real-time reports of information. Up to the second as it's updated to your advocate systems.
Q & A
Where do these apps come from? Are they in Abacus, or they an outside source?
The short answer to that is the apps in the Abacus dashboard are actually, and I'll show you that menu item very quickly, they are created by Abacus currently.
If I go to my add apps, I get a list. AbacusLaw apps, the charts, the accounting apps, and then web apps which gives you a lot of flexibility. The web apps is perhaps where you could pull up any webpage. Whether it's your email, whether it's PACER as we mentioned, whether it's your local courts website, or a research page, you can add it. Your dashboard ends up being a combination of apps from Abacus, with each app configuration setting available to you, as well as other webpages that you can add.
The only other caveat to that is the apps that are currently available in the apps store, many of them came from requests by clients. At anytime should a client want a very specific app to do xyz, never hesitate reach out to us we'll get you in touch with our development team. We actually have a developer who is a specialist in creating these apps, because the apps, the programming language is his specialty. Being able to use that language to create an app, to pull information from the Abacus system, is flexible and available service.
Does this come with Abacus, or with, or without the cloud?
It does come with AbacusLaw. The dashboard is a built in tool available with Abacus. Of course, the accounting apps require Abacus Accounting to be used. I guess maybe that's obvious. It is included. It's with or without the cloud, you do have access to your highly configurable dashboard.
Is there an extra charge for these apps?
Nope, they're included. It really comes down to your desire and what you need. What I recommend also is create a few apps in there, see how they're working for you. Never hesitate to call our support team, they'll walk you through how to start with some of the default layouts that come included with Abacus, but those customization options are built in. Not only is the dashboard yours to use, but also any apps in it. Of course understanding that those apps pull from all the cases, and the contacts, and the calendar information that you're storing in Abacus.
Will a recording be made available, so that you can use this and maybe go through it slowly, or slower, or highlight a certain aspect of it?
Absolutely. As soon as we're done here, we create an audio or video recording of exactly what was covered. That recording will be made available to everyone who registered for this Webinar, and it'll be available on the Abacus blog. I'd go to www.abacusnext.com and click blog to find that. We'll get that, our goal is to get that up online today.
How would you get the filing deadline app?
Good questions Holly. I'm going to, instead of telling you all about it, I'm going to show you. The filing deadline app is a configured event browse app. What you do is you go into the app center, select your events browse app, and then I can name it. I wrote in the caption “filing deadline.” You can use any caption, and that becomes the name of that app. Just as if you would with other reports that you create in Abacus, you select the layout. Meaning, which fields you want displayed in the matching records for that app, or each line item, each row.
This also works for applying a query. The query id you see here is one that I created, deadline. Deadline goes and looks out, and finds just the events, or the event types that are under my understanding of deadline in that context. You go and you would select events browse appreciate. You would check, click on that apps setting. You could name it, and then apply the filter criteria, and the layout to make sure that that app is pulling from your Abacus system the exact information that you want displayed within it.
Are the changes you make to the dashboard individual, or will they apply to all other user staff?
It brings up a component of the customization of your dashboard, in that you can create a dashboard that's individual to each user, or you can create a dashboard layout that you apply to each user as their default. Then you can grant, or restrict their access to actually change it. To Diego's question, if you wanted to create a layout and roll it out, like one change rolled out across departments, or individuals who have this specific role or responsibility in the firm you could absolutely do that. Like many things in AbacusLaw, you can actually configure it on an individual basis. You have both options. It really comes down to the need. Sometimes, it's efficient actually to have a dashboard layout that applies to a number of different people all at once, because if you make a change to that layout they all benefit from that same change.
If I send my daily agenda to just me, will it also change the calendar in my AbacusLaw to show the events in my individual calendar?
Absolutely. What I recommend, giving a quick call to our client service department. They can help you set that, it is default queries that are being set for you, so the agenda app in the dashboard can show you your specific needs. Then the firm wide view can also be something that you see in the overall Abacus calendar.
Can you add webpages across all user dashboards?
Yes you can. Basically, the scenario would be to create a layout, apply those webpages to that layout. You can do it in your dashboard, and then each webpage. I'll show you how the webpages, I think it's an easy way to get an understanding of how that might benefit for you. Let me go back to my add apps to this dashboard. I'm in the app center. I can click any webpage here. I click any webpage and all I need to do is put the web URL into the system. Also, there's a setting whether I want the size of that app to adjust based on the size of the webpage. Sometimes that's handy if you're using the dashboard as a real shortlist, or a favorites list to webpages. If not you can leave that unchecked.
Even as you add a web URL here, and click done, by doing that you created an app in the dashboard. Actually why don't I show you, instead of talking about it. You've added that webpage. To your question, I've added that webpage to the layout, I save the layout, and then I can make that saved layout the default for any other member, or any other user in the firm. It's a nice way for you to create a layout with specific webpages, and then make sure that that same dashboard layout is available, and ideally would be helpful for everybody who would need it in the firm.
Another thing that might be helpful, I've worked with firms that have had internal webpages that have firm news, or anything that's upcoming, or access to let's say HR information for the firm. When you're pointing to an URL you can actually also use an internal point or two. An HTML, a page who say with HTML content that's kind of an intra firm webpage for either notices, or information, or just access to information that staff may need.
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