Brief EnCounter and Brief Accounting
Brief EnCounter is the Timekeeper accessory software that works in conjunction with Brief Accounting. It is used by Timekeepers to enter time and disbursement slips.
Brief EnCounter is a stand-alone application. This means each timekeeper runs an individual copy of Brief EnCounter independently of the central Brief Accounting application. Each Brief EnCounter installation contains its own database that stores that individual timekeeper's slips.
Matters, Rates, Time and Cost codes and Staff are created and maintained in the central Brief Accounting application. New Matters are sent to the Brief EnCounter users via a Matter list update. This is an export file created in Brief Accounting via the Brief Export Wizard. Slips created in Brief EnCounter are exported to Brief Accounting via a slip export file.
There are a number of ways by which you can distribute the matter list updates to the timekeepers and for the timekeepers to send the slip exports back to Brief Accounting. The matter list update and the slip export files are simply text files that need to be passed between users.
Matter List Updates
When we say Matter List Updates we actually mean Matter/Rate/Timekeeper/Code List Updates. Updates for all are sent via the same process. For day to day use however it is most commonly going to be matter updates you are sending the timekeepers.
As mentioned setup of new matters takes place in the central Brief Accounting application. When new matters are created, a matter list update needs to be sent to the Brief EnCounter users so they can create new slips on these files. The procedure for creating a matter list update is very straight-forward and is covered in detail in the Brief Export Wizard help section. Importing the matter list update to Brief EnCounter is also very straightforward. Instructions for importing are covered here: Importing matter list updates.
Via the Brief Export Wizard you will create and save a file that contains all the matter updates. This file needs to be imported into Brief EnCounter by the timekeepers. The only decision you need to make is what method you will use to distribute this update to your users. There are two common methods:
1. Create a shared server folder on your network. Label the folder "Matter List Updates". When you have a matter list update to distribute, put the file in this shared folder. Inform all timekeepers that the latest matter list update is located in this folder. Whenever a timekeeper finds they do not have a matter they need, they know to retrieve the update from this folder and import it into Brief EnCounter. Alternatively you might have a specified day they are supposed to retrieve the latest update (Every Monday morning for example).
2. Email the matter list update to the timekeepers. Many firms find this the easiest method of distributing the update. It also makes it easy to send updates to timekeepers that might be working away from the internal company network. Once a week or however often as is necessary, email the matter list update file to all timekeepers and ask them to update their Brief EnCounter.
Timekeeper's need to export their slips so they can be brought into Brief Accounting for running prebills, editing and posting invoices. Like the matter list update, the slip export is simply a text file. It needs to be passed from the timekeeper to the central Brief Accounting user(s). The frequency for sending slip exports is the firm's decision. Most firms invoice on a monthly basis so at a minimum exports are likely happening once a month. More commonly firm's schedule slip exports once a week. So perhaps every Friday the Timekeepers export their slips for that week and they are brought into Brief Accounting.
The most common methods for passing the slip exports to Brief Accounting are the same as the matter list updates (just in the opposite direction).
1. Create a shared server folder on the network for each of the timekeepers. Label the folder with their name or initials (ex. "CAH Slip Exports"). Whenever the timekeeper exports their slips they will save the file to this folder. The Brief Accounting user will browse from the central Brief Accounting application and import each of the timekeeper's slip exports from the server.
2. Have each timekeeper email their slip export to Brief Accounting. On the specified day, have each timekeeper export their slips, attach that file to an email and send them to the central Brief Accounting user. Again this is a good method for users that are working away from the office.
Whichever method you choose, you should just ensure all users are aware of the protocol to ensure all updates are applied and all slips are received by Brief Accounting.
For larger firms running Brief Accounting Professional, there is another option to automate the process of applying matter list updates and exporting slips. It is called the Brief DataSync. The Brief DataSync enables the timekeeper to send their slips or update their matters simply by pushing a button from within Brief EnCounter. The Brief DataSync is an additional module that can be purchased for Brief Accounting Professional (Client/Server). Please contact Brief Legal Software if you would like more information.