Running your PM software on all cylinders!

Remember when your Practice Management software was new?  It was fast, responsive, fluid?  Remember thinking, “man, the world is at my finger tips...”?

But over time the bloom came off the rose.

Sure, you got used to the software, the extraordinary became the expected and ordinary.

What if it wasn’t all rapid human adjustment and acceptance of changing conditions - as the psych majors might say?

So, how do we restore the bloom to the rose?

Well there are a lot of factors at work here but they all fall within two categories

  • your network environment and

  • the Practice Management software itself

Regarding your network environment, some of the possible issues here are:

  • You might have a computer virus sapping your computer and network's ability to crunch numbers and push data around

  • Needed updates were not done. You might be missing important operating system and server updates that proactively fix problems with the network operating system

  • you might be using a version of Windows that is now too old to efficiently run modern practice management software

  • General cleanup of Windows or the Practice Management  has not been addressed. You might need a “spring cleaning” for your computer and your server. Files get fragmented and take longer to read when spread out all over the hard drive, temp directories get 1,000's of needless items building up in them which slows down the reading and writing to those directories. It might be time to clean them up

  • Your database, usually SQL, may need both a performance tweak and a spring cleaning. A slow database manager means a slow Practice Management application

  • Hardware and/or software additions to the Windows network. And don’t forget:  that trusty 5 year old PC might simply not have the power to efficiently operate modern Practice Management software.

Ensuring your platform is up to scratch rarely costs a lot of money, its mostly maintenance and good digital hygiene.

Once the platform is sorted out look to the Practice Management application itself.  There are two ‘moving parts’;  The software application and your data.

The Practice Management software application

  • The most common issue we see in this area is simple: out of date software! Software designers work day and night (well, usually night) to hone all the elements of their applications and they rely on better database manager utilities, clever processors, faster ram, etc.  Many of those improvements require design tweaks to get the benefits into your hands.  If you don’t update your software (both maintenance releases and ‘big deal’ full upgrades) you are stuck in first gear.

The Practice Management Data

  • This is also a big item.  Having 20,000 duplicate contact entries does not make your software run faster.  Clean them up, or get them cleaned up.

  • The data that is sitting in tables is ‘found’ by the application using indexes.  Indexes allow for retrieval much faster than simply starting at the top of the pile and working your way down the list.  But these indexes need maintenance from time to time.  Re-indexing cleans them up and speeds up data retrieval and storage.

Do you need a doctor?

Yes and no.  Many of these things you can handle in-house.  You might have IT people that need a little prodding to ensure your systems and network is up to scratch and  fully patched.  You might do these tasks yourself.

The database manager and the Practice Management application data is a little different. Unless you are a whiz at this stuff you should consider engaging a professional that knows these waters. They can set up daily, weekly and monthly automated maintenance routines to re-index and clean the data.

The one data item that will likely require both you and a Legal IT ‘pro’ is cleaning up the bad data built up over the years.  The duplicate contacts, the matters that finished years ago but aren’t closed in the system etc.  Here you and your consultant can work together to get this cleaned up without giving up the next 6 weekends of your life.

ellwood Associates is the ‘pro’ you need to help you get back that ‘loving feelin’ you once had for your Practice Management software. We have an IT team to handle the network environment and a Practice Management team that are specialists in the software and the data.

Call us. We can help.