The centerpiece of the OfficeTools Accelerate 2017 event in Las Vegas last week was a preview of the company’s development work on the online edition of its practice management suite.
The recent acquisition by ambitious legal practice software group AbacusNext confirmed OfficeTools as a serious competitor in the practice management software market and will enable it to bring the next-generation version to market within a year. By going to the cloud, OfficeTools will become a much more convenient option for those with multiple businesses or locations.
“We want to take this further,” OfficeTools founder Mike Giardina told the conference. “We have gutted [the desktop] system and made it extremely powerful.”
At the heart of the new WorkSpace program is a simple client list screen (pictured above) with “single click” navigation to job tracking, billing, resourcing staff management, and project modules.
As well as the timesheets and timers available in OfficeTools, the new edition will include calendars for projects team and individuals within the firm.
The WorkSpace modules integrate within the suite, but plans are also in hand to extend these interfaces to external apps, including Microsoft Outlook, QuickBooks Online, Xero, and Google Apps.
Project tasks arrive with default settings for different procedures, so a tax return process will start with an appointment with the client, create the appointment in the calendar, and automatically assign it to the designated staff member’s work list. The tasks can be customized and included in templates for preassigned project teams.
Based on the crowd’s response in Las Vegas, the most popular enhancements in WorkSpace will be:
• Unlimited custom contact fields.
• Unlimited addresses and emails.
• A document manager that allocates files to projects and clients, and lets the user preview the contents directly from within the app.
The developer is planning to start beta testing in late summer, said Giardina, who offered an open invitation to anyone who wants to get their hands on the new edition. By the end of the year, he is hoping to start signing up early customers for the production edition – in time for busy season.
When it arrives, the new WorkSpace cloud edition will have three pricing levels: for small firms, WorkSpace Practice for midrange firms, and an enterprise edition.
“It will be very affordable, but will be more than you’re paying now,” said Giardina. “Now we have to pay for infrastructure. When you store gigabytes of data, that costs a lot more money.”
Nevertheless, he struck a confident tone as he showed off his new online baby. “If you build a practice management program long enough, you’ll finally get it right. We provide the best interface when it comes to the complexity of practice management,” said Giardina.