Speeding up Time Matters

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I tried to post a question to the CIC Solutions Forum, but apparently my request for tips to speed up Time Matters was objectionable:

Your post was deleted by Matt Stone.

Subject: Speeding up Time Matters?

Reason: Thank you for contributing to the CIC Solutions Forums. Your message was rejected by the list moderator because its content is seen as editorializing, broad qualitative comment, a customer complaint, or lobbying for particular features or improvements.

I didn’t think I was editorializing to say that Time Matters was slow. It is. I have talked about Time Matters with many people, and every single time TM’s slowness was mentioned quickly. I just wanted some tips on how to minimize the slowness.

Let me be clear: I think Time Matters is far from perfect. In addition to being slow, it crashes frequently. Although I am a efficiency nut, I still use it. Why? Because with all its flaws, TM is still a time saver. But if there is a way I can streamline or speed up the program, I want to know about it.

So how about it? Do any of you have tips for speeding up Time Matters?

2008.07.16: Since this post is so popular, I want to point out that I ditched Time Matters about a year ago, and am much happier—and more productive—as a result.

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  • If Time Matters can be characterized accurately as slow and unstable, I cannot imagine why it would continue to attract more customers and win more annual awards than each of the competitors in its category year after year.

    Only a few of our 1400+ subscribers have complained about the CIC Solutions Forum policy of focusing on solutions – questions and answers on getting more out of Time Matters and other LexisNexis products – and of filtering out complaints, harangues, flame wars and the like that have destroyed other discussion groups. A few of your posts were returned to you, Sam, for editorializing or complaining. You were certainly polite about it, but we need to be consistent about the scope of the forums, something that is explained up front to all subscribers. I am glad to see that you have continued to post questions and receive answers on the CIC Forums. Over 1400 other users of LexisNexis Practice Management products have posted thousands of times since the new forums opened in June of last year. Along with many other experienced consultants, I am happy to continue provide free answers to your questions in the forums where so many others can benefit from the information.

    It is essential for Time Matters Tech Support to hear about problems with performance or stability. If you actually are experiencing problems with software quality, they need to know about. If, on the other hand, you have problems with how you set up the program, with third party applications affecting Time Matters, or with your specific hardware, tech support or a Certified Independent Consultant can assist you with those issues.

    Wells H. Anderson, CIC Forum Moderator
    Time Matters & Billing Matters CIC
    Active Practice LLC
    Edina, Minnesota
    Tel: 952.922.1727
    Web: http://www.activepractice.com

  • S. Glover

    Thanks for your comments, Wells. “Slow” is, of course, a relative term. Compared to Outlook, TM is slow for e-mail, contacts, and scheduling. Admittedly, it also does more than Outlook and handles data differently. TM is a true database, while Outlook “tags” message and scheduling items.

    As for stability, TIme Matters doesn’t seem to be the culprit so much as Billing Matters Plus. BM+ has a reputation for this in the attorneys I know, however. Tech Support has certainly heard from me about the problems I have experience, as well as my suggestions for improving the program.

    As I have said, I have found Time Matters to be, on balance, worthwhile. However, TM still feels like it was built for Windows 3.11 compared to most other programs I use.

    At the moment, I am using only BM+, and have switched to Outlook for e-mail, contacts, and scheduling. I’ve lost some functionality, of course, but I’ve gained speed and useability, as well. Since BM+ is hardly at its best as a standalone billing and accounting suite, I am looking for replacements there, as well.

    But then, I also have the ultimate goal of switching to a Mac or running Ubuntu Linux on my PC, so Time Matters isn’t the ideal software for me.

  • Since I am not a Time Matters consultant, I can speak freely. Time Matters is slow and the email client is unstable. I think it would be far better for the company to actually fix the problems instead of censoring comments about them.

    If it would frankly admit the problems exist, fix them, and announce that they have been fixed, I would be willing to upgrade. But until that happens, I have no intention of paying more money for the same poor performance.

  • Robert, I don’t think it is fair to complain about the performance and stability of Time Matters software that is three versions out-of-date. HTML Email formats are constantly changing and can cause problems with Email software. The LexisNexis development team put a great deal of effort this year into improving the stability of Time Matters in handling Email and other data. The results have been impressive. If you are not using the current version of the software, you won’t enjoy the improvements.

    That is not to say that Time Matters, or any other software for that matter, is perfect. For example, Adobe Acrobat just gave an error message this morning.

    Although I believe that *your* Time Matters is slow and Sam’s was slow, it does not need to be. You have many options for speeding up performance. In the few situations where my clients have run into slow performance, the solutions have been straight-forward. I repeat my original point that Time Matters would not be the most popular and most award-winning practice management software if it had truly slow performance. It is too bad that you have stuck with an outdated version because you are not confident that the product has been improved.

    If any Time Matters user has a complaint about slow performance, it is important to provide details. What function appears to operate slowly? How long is the wait time for what specific operation? How many records are contained in the list you are working with? If you are using the inexpensive Professional version instead of the lightning-fast Enterprise version, what fields do you have indexed? Simply calling software “slow” is like calling it “bad.” It is hard engage in an informed discussion with so little to go on.

  • Sam Glover

    In this case, I don’t think it is fair to say that popularity is in any way related to performance. A lot of attorneys are also still using Windows 98, but that doesn’t mean it is better than Windows XP or Vista.

    Time Matters 7 is slow compared to other information managers, even with every “speed tweak” I tried from the CIC forums or elsewhere (including one certified TM consultant who destroyed my install so that I had to spend hours getting back up and running). Even Outlook, which is fairly bloated and uses an inefficient, one-file database, can handle more information more efficiently, and I much prefer it. I have not tried TM versions 8 or 9 because 7 was so bad I stopped using it at the earliest opportunity. Maybe 9 is better, for all I know, but LexisNexis is highly unlikely to see any more of my money for its software.

  • As I said, I would have upgraded by now if Time Matters had acknowledged the problem and represented that it had been fixed. I have tried through their sales representative, our consultant, and just looking online for some reason to believe that the later versions had corrected the problem. I tried version 7 and noticed zero improvement plus several bugs. I uninstalled it and went back to version 6.

    If, instead of suppressing critical comments, the company would treat them as a useful resource, everyone would be better off. But it appears to me that someone has made the decision that it is better to pretend the problem doesn’t exist, blame it on every conceivable other cause, and try to keep people from discussing it honestly.

  • I have to agree with the critiques of Time Matters. It crashes all the time. We have a stand alone mssql server with a dual core and 4 GBs of Ram, a level 2 switch, a stand alone exchange server and it still crashes constantly. We have 17 users on enterprise.

    I have used TM since version 4, the firm had a SG20! at one time, read all of the forum posts and spent hours on the phone with support. My favorite response to the question of why our activation was failing causing messager to crash was “Call Microsoft.”

    I am testing out TM 9 now to update our TM8 install and they do not seem to have solved any of the old problems. Just added some new features.

    The email handling is an amazing mess. Why can my cell phones email client handle 1000’s of emails, but TM comes to a crawl when you have more than 100. The idea the HTML is constantly changing and therefore the mail should suck so bad is a pretty sorry excuse. Why does mapi require you to disable the cache and put tremendous strain on your exchange server.
    We tried using POP for a while and that introduced other issues and was even slower.

    My least favorite bug, is that I have to go through every merge document (we have about 500) and update them every time we update versions. I know they want use to use HotDocs, but that does not mean the word merges should be a pain.

    I appreciate the help the consultants give on the forum, but the attitude that TM is beyond reproach is laughable. I would move to another piece of software if we did not have a trained used base and no guarantee that the replacement would be worth it.

    I wonder if the $3500 we are paying to upgrade is going to be worth it. They want $1200 more for a year of support, which if there was a way they could help stop if from crashing would be worth it.

    I have been volunteering my bug reports and tried to have some input to eliminating the problems for some time, but between the closed forum and the lack of response at ideas@timematters.com I do not see much hope.

    Looks like the review feature in 9 are actually usable, so that is plus. I thought it was funny they once admitted to me the feature did not really work in previous versions. Custom records are going to be nice, so I do not have to butchar the mail record to keep track of additional data. I guess their previous implementation of “Custom forms” was not that great :)

    If I had time I would make a list of all the problems, but what would be the point of that.

    Just my two cents, it was nice to get this out on the web somewhere, so maybe they will listen.

    I wonder if they have a QA department there or just assume everything is going to work.

  • Gary Dickey

    I can certainly speak for 9.0 users and say that all is not rosy. After attempting to purchase 8.0 and being convinced by a sales rep to wait for 9.0, after being promised that it is fully compatible with Vista, I have to say I want my money back. In the month that we have been running it, we have yet to have a day where it hasn’t crashed. The latest problem is that our email attachments have disappeared. After 3 hours on the phone with tech support yesterday and 3 hours today, I still have not recovered my attachments.

    Our problems begain merely syncing TM with Outlook and have continued all the way to creating invoices. Their answer is consistent in that it is always “there must be a problem with your network,” which is not backed up by our network support.

    The best is that they sold us 9.0 without having completed the online help manual. So we were literally flying blind in trying figure out its functionality. If “time matters” then why do I spend all of my time on hold for tech support?

    If you are considering an upgrade, buyer beware.

    gdj

  • Holly Aguilera

    We’re having alot of problems with TM crashing and emails sent out of TM are not being sent with the attachments. Can I ask those of you who are experiencing crashes – do you have TM installed on a dedicated server? We have a small office of 3 users and are wondering if not having a dedicated server may be a problem.

    -H

  • dan getman

    TM crashes were totally killing us –like 5-10 per day. Our IT person spent forever and finally got some functionality. The interface for calendaring is years out of date and time-wasteful. It absolutely failed to deliver what was promised –that it could handle email was total bs. No way would we entrust documents to it. It still crashes whenever you try to scroll through notes. It does certain things we didnt have elsewhere: networked calendaring and time recording, but the reports are horrible and whether it is a net benefit is uncertain. Just don’t know if anything is better.

  • steve

    I am surprised to see that there is some corporate comment control being envoked – holy smokes. I found this page running the google search “speeding up Time Matters”, the reason this program is slow as crap and crashes more then any other program – in fact I can’t remember the last time my Outlook crashed. Seriously, I was hoping there was some tweak or RAM setting or something that could make the thing more stable. We have no problem paying Lexis Nexis for their services but the quasi information control is troubling. Are they saying only talk to us about speeding it up so we can bill you for that also? Thanks for hosting this forum.

  • I just did a google search on Time Matters bugs, and found this string of comments. We purchased the latest version of time matters less than 6 months ago, and have been having problems ever since. We’re crashing constantly and on a daily basis. We have lost a ton of attorney billable time, spent thousands of dollars on our IT tech company, upgrading equipment, etc. Tech support give us the same ridiculous responses – “it must be your network..” And, here we go again, day after day, on the same merry go round without any resolution. We are beyond frustrated! We have new equipment, new server, new stations etc.
    We are at our wits end, and don’t know what to do! I regret the day I was talked into buying this disasterous software, and wish I stumbled on this blog months ago!

    There must be a solution – have any of you come up with one? If anyone is interested making a claim for monetary damages against Lexis, please contact our firm. Let’s talk –

    Iris or Reuven Herssein (305) 531-1431

  • mw

    It’s a fact it is slow, unstable, and a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with business software.

    The firm I work at was sold this software, and I wish I had some input. This product is a disgrace to programming, interface design, and productivity. For anyone to defend this product just goes to show how out of touch they are with interface design, developing software, business operations, perhaps this weekend I’ll write a massive post on why a business shouldn never implement this software.

    The reason time matters wins awards is because it’s just a competition between archaic products. Lots of people buy poor products every day, all it takes is a good marketing campain, or a personal recomendation. Most business owners don’t have extensive knowledge or the time to know what’s going on in the computer industry.

    As for giving time matters advice, well why would anyone give input to a company that sells closed source software.

    So what I’d like to hear is how people were sold on this software.

    —————————————————-
    Time matters bugs, problems, complaints, issues, recomendations, support, alternatives, time matters problems, issues with time matters.

  • I am a solo practicioner and have used Time Matters since Version 4. I currently use Practice Management 9.0. I am not a computer novice, having owned computers since 1982. Mostly self taught I built and manage an intranet with multiple computers, peer2peer, with dedicated “server”. I built and manage my web site. I discovered that my knowledge base may be broader than I understood when my $$$ Microsoft trained expert could not figure out a Windows2000 security issue and I did. I currently have work stations using WindowsXP and WindowsVista with only the “server” using Windows2000.

    The above posts are correct. TM/PM has a tendency to crash. The email handling is horrable, all said I dropped the bucks for Version9.

    The number one reason that TM/PM will slow is that a sequential data base means exactly that. All the information is stored as obtained and the program must search through entire data bases to obtain your answer. TM/PM reduces the problem by creating multiple data streams, ie contact.tps, doc.tps, email.tps, etc. This fundamental structure issue will cause increasing issues of instability as the hardware attempts to deal with increasing amounts of data. I obtained this admission from TM/PM only after I verbally “spanked” a TM/PM tech for actually suggesting that the cure for one of my problems was to delete the email.tps. The deletion of the email.tps would have distroyed all emails ever received and significantly reduced my proof of direction from clients. THIS DIRECTION TO A NOVICE WOULD HAVE CRIPPLED HIM or HER, and most likely they would have never called TM/PM again. Yes, I know that renaming and recovery may have been available, point is the novice would not know.

    One issue concerns email attachment handling, one core reason for email created crashes. I have found a site which automates email attachment handling – http://ddspublic.docsol.com/tmtools/index.html . I have not purchased the product, but it appears to have TM/PM approval, and it addresses the issue which should have been fixed prior to version 4.0. I am considering the addin, but am very annoyed that TM/PM appearently licensed the use of their logo’s and trademarks years ago and chose to not develop a like internal product (ie the Microsoft approach) for inclusion in an upgrade. Further, it took valuable time to search the internet for what TM/PM will not provide when it should be an immediate suggestion of the support staff.

    The other issue concerns work station calls to the “server” in otherwords your intranet speed. TM/PM will not assist slow performance unless you can “prove” that your computer network has no latent issues. I was instructed to develop a 1gig file and time the transfer from the “server” to the work station. If the transfer opperates at near the expected rate (10-100 meg per sec depends on various issues) then they will help. My issue is a 20-30 sec delay between selection of a document, during the add document process, and actual population on the file location line.

    I pay hundreds monthly for the support, I thought that support ment support whatever the issue if the issue creates a TM/PM specific problem. As it is, I am forced to determine the source of the issue.

    All of which brings us back to the core question, “Why is TM/PM slow?” Answer- “depends”.

  • Daniel Kang

    I’ve been trying to make TM 8 pro work with this firm I support but the usual issues of attachment bloat, messenger errors and email woes all rear their ugly heads. I’ve looked into the actual innards of the program itself and it is developed from soft velocity. They created the *.tps file structure and the db structure. Their flag ship product is a more automated IDE that cuts programming time by creating semi made modules or other short cuts. one similarity i can name is probably ruby on rails, though that is for the web. It’s more like Visual Basic i guess. So I’m trying to wrap my head around that and see if I can control the program at a more lower level. At the worst case I may come out of this journey with a better sense of how the program behaves and perhaps a eureka moment will hit me. But I’ll keep my clothes on and share my discovery in a more modest tone as opposed to Archimedes.

  • I found out this site when i googling for TM problem. TM sometimes goes slow, even tune up the server, upgrade a hardware…That is one of daily task for fix it.

  • TJ

    Bottom line… DON’T BUY TIME MATTERS software.

  • William Rambaum

    We run TM & BM+, version 7E, on a network of 7 computers plus the Server. We started with Version 5 professional, then 6 professional, then 7 professional, now 7 Enterprise. We have had all of the same problems described by everyone else, slow performance, multiple daily crashes. We have always paid for unlimited Tech Support, and we use it heavily. We have delayed upgrading again, because we didn’t want to spend another $3 or $4 Thousand unless we were assured that the newest version would solve the problems. The TM people say it is a major upgrade with fundamental program improvements, but so far the users in this forum say the problems still exist. I agree with everyone else, in that the TM people have told me over and over again that the problems are network problems. I have been led to believe that the problems that I have (slowness and crashing) are almost unheard of by their Tech Support people, but I now see from the Forum, that many other people seem to have the same problems. I also agree that their policy of never disclosing to their customers the existence of widespread problems is very unfair.

  • William Rambaum

    I am wondering if anyone else is having this problem. We are using TM and BM+, Version 7, Enterprise Edition. Our bookkeeper runs into situations where there is a discrepancy between the balances between different places in the program. For example, the balance sheet might show a particular debt, but the number is different on the A/P ledger. We then call for support, and they access our computer via the Internet, and Tech Support then runs some sort of program and usually it then reconciles. But we are never told why it didn’t reconcile in the first place, and we are not given the program to run ourselves. This has been occurring now for the past several years, and there doesn’t seem to be any permanent solution.

    Also, we have a terrible time getting through to Tech Support for the Billing Matters side. We have often waited on hold many hours and often have had to hang up without ever getting through. I wrote to Lexis Nexus about this issue over a month ago, but no response. We pay them quite a bit every year for a support contract so it is very frustrating when we cannot get any help.

  • Sam Glover

    I cannot help you, but I had a lot of trouble getting any support for Billing Matters. I got the sense that nobody really knows how to use the program, even at Lexis.

  • Sam … I ran across your site googling for something else. As a long time CIC and Time Matters users, I have to say that many of the posts here are fair. I am sure that many of the posters who are/were using TM 6-8 had many of the issues described. Without in any way defensive, I’d like to explain what the problems where, for the purpose of explaining where we are today.

    The 1.5 some-odd million lines of code in TM are a combination of C+ and Clarion. For years, TM has relied on many of Clarion’s interface components. I understand that some may say that this is old technology, but designing in Clarion made sense over the years as it enabled the folks at TM to develop and deliver their product at a very low cost, and for many years as a very stable product. Sure, if they were to start today, they would use something else – presumably .net – but the program has legacy roots that go back to 1989. Rewriting a program the size of TM is not something one does casually and without a fair amount of risk and cost (that has to be passed on to someone).

    In any event, the problems associated with the TM6-8 versions were related to some of the Clarion dll libraries that started to become dated. Basically, as video cards and mice got more advanced, and memory and CPU speeds increased, and CPU hyperthreading became the norm, the Clarion dlls simply did not keep up with them all. I can assure you that a huge percentage of the people’s problems here are related to video, mice, and hyperthreading. The ironic thing is that alot of TM users upgraded hardware to try and resolve the problems, which likely exacerbated the problem. Dropping back to a circa 2003 computer would probably have been better, but who would have thought of that.

    In any event, in TM8, SR2 (and then carried over into TM9) the dlls were updated and performance dramatically improved. I know … I am responsible for several thousand TM seats, and while there are still problems, TM8SR2 and TM9 are dramatically more fault tolerant and stable. Does that mean that everyone will be just fine? No …we have a few clients who are having problems, but we are isolating that small percentage to the typical network, software and driver conflicts that you see in a lot of applications, not just Time Matters. And, where there are obvious bugs in the program, we are reporting them to LN where they are being fixed in TM9 service releases.

    I wanted to post this because while many of the users here have very legitimate gripes, those who post that people simply shouldn’t buy TM are, in my opinion, doing a disservice to people who could purchase TM9 and be very happy with the most powerful, and most widely used, legal practice management system there is. Again, there was some rough sledding the in 2006 and early 2007, no denying. But today the situation is quite good for TM users.

    As to email, many users are now using Outlook as their Inbox and saving emails into TM. TM’s Outlook Connect technology to do this is quite good and solid. I’ve used the internal email in TM since 2000, but switched to Outlook for 6 months to see how it worked. I was very pleased in that the functionality from Outlook is about 98% as good as the functionality of the internal Inbox, and you get the more advanced features of Outlook (and the stability for those have problems).

    For those who have attachment problems, as mentioned in another post, my company sells an add-on that has resolved that problem for hundreds of firms. TMTools reduced the database of one of my clients from 19gigs to 3 gigs. You can imagine the performance difference. The fact is that unless attachments are managed properly in any environment – just ask any IT Director of a moderate size company about how that complicates their life – your database is going to grow rather quickly. TMTools is an elegant solution to this problem at a very reasonable cost.

    Finally, as one of the administrators of the CIC Solutions Forum, I understand that some people don’t like the idea that a forum is moderated and posts are “censored.” I respect that opinion. I wish that those who believed that way were more tolerant of our position. Ours is not an official LexisNexis forum. While they have graciously provided hosting for our forum, it is a volunteer forum where CICs give tons of free advice. Our quid pro quo for volunteering our valuable time is that we don’t care to get into discussions and arguments about issues we can’t change. There are all sorts of channels to get to LN about issues with TM, and our forum, which isn’t monitored by LN isn’t one of them. People can come here, and in other forums to make their complaints known, or contact LN directly. We believe it is in the best interest of the CICs and the members of our forums to maintain the best “signal to noise ratio” we can. This apt term, applied to the Internet, means “a measure of the amount of useful information found in a given Usenet newsgroup. This phrase is often used derogatorily; for example, ‘The signal-to-noise ratio in this newsgroup is pretty low.'” Netlingo.com.

    We believe that we have an extremely high signal-to-noise ratio, where TM users (BM, PCLaw, and HotDocs, too) can come and get high quality content from CICs and their fellow users without having to sift through all sorts of complaining and griping (justified or not) about things we can’t control, and that most of them don’t care about (even though you legitimately do).

    To conclude, a tough chapter of Time Matters use is behind us, and I hope that both old and new users of the program will be able to use it to maximize the efficiency of their law practice.

    Tom Rowe
    Time Matters CIC

  • Robert May

    After reading through this thread I need to comment. We DID purchase and install TM9. Whereas it seemed to speed up slightly the crashes are more frequent now than before (TM6). We then converted from a peer-to-peer network to an SBS 2003 server domain primarily because of recommendations that it would resolve this and other problems. The speed is slightly better (still not good) but lockups and crashing are worse. In addition, TM9 / Word 2007 broke all of the merges and tech support has no clue (I fixed the 3 primary ones but we have many more that don’t work yet).

    I was not personally in favor of upgrading to TM9 but accepted it as a necessary step. Unless the bloat, slowness, crashing, and occasional lockups are fixed (preferably with service packs, not TM10) this will be our last purchase of TM. We’re sticking with it now just because the resources to convert away aren’t available.

  • I have a problem sending attachments through time matters. They all wind up converted to win.data files. This does not happen when I send directly through outlook from the same computer. Any ideas onhow to fix this?

  • William Rambaum

    We use TM/BM+ version 7, Enterprise Edition. We have 8 licenses. We have a problem with the “Alerts and Reminders” screen opening every time you open the program. We try to turn it off in Setup/General/User Level by unchecking the box that says to automatically have it come on when the program is opened, but when you close the program it still comes up automatically, and when you go back into Setup, the box is checked again. It does this on every computer and every user in our system. The Techs at Tech Support initially said it was a setting in our Server that prevented us from making these kinds of changes in the program, and they offered to work directly with our IT person to fix it, but when he came in and called them, over a two or three hour period they were unable to identify any setting in the Server.

    Has anyone had this problem or know the solution?

  • Denny

    SOunds like the publishers have a problem in dealing with users complaints and feedback. One of the replies here says that 1400 plus users appear to mostly be happy.

    that’s a very flawed statement. first rule of software is that for every 1 complaint you hear about there are 100 more where the user just did not tell you.

    second if you run a message board that users know the complaints will be removed is not a place where you will find many complaints… 1) you remove them and 2) why would I post anything there if it will be removed.

    so the “Everyones happy aside from a few” is a false and unsupportable statement, you sure could not prove it in court!

    — PS I am not a lawyer, I am a developer of software, and what I see is that it’s time for the publishers of TM and such to take a good long look at how much longer they can milk this old codebase …. and start planning a replacement cycle…. sure it will not be easy or cheap but it’s the only way they will keep from losing more clients.

    — PPS what is it worth per site? if someone wanted to write a clean package that does what it does how much would folks be willing to spend ??

  • Denny

    Sam, drop me an email. No promise but I am interested in exploring the possiblities.
    I have a lot of exp. in development. the company I am with is small (3 Guys) so we have to be carefull about what we take on. but we have a good track record.

    Denny.

  • Sam Glover

    If someone wrote a clean, fast, and attractive “matters-centric” organizer, I would pay at least what Lexis and Westlaw charge for the bloated junk they sell.

    What I want is basically something that (from the user perspective) is like Outlook, but with the ability to have cases (separate from contacts) and associate contacts, appointments, tasks, etc., with cases.

    But I would also want it to be (a) open source with a good API; and (b) cross-platform. Open source means it will be easy for people to write (or hire someone else to write) plugins for needed features–like a Plaxo sync, an envelope export, etc.

    And cross-platform because while Windows is still the most popular option, more and more attorneys are using Macs (and a few even use Linux).

  • Laimonas

    TO Wendy Sheinberg:
    We had the same problem wth win.data file when sending attachmen from TM. THe following helped to solve it: When sending email, open the message in MS Outlook (Outbox) untill it has not been sent and change format from HTML into Text only. You need just to double press on the name of the recipient of the message. When in text format, please press again “send”. It should work.

  • Time Matters is an oxymoron. We currently use V6 in a basic Small Business Server network with Vista workstations. It is still about half functional. We continue to use it for old cases, but generally are phasing it out as we close cases started in Time Matters. It no longer works with newer software, such as WordPerfect X3.
    We tried to upgrade to V7 – sent it back. V8 sent it back. Most recently V9. After about a week we could not load the data file from a workstation. Hour + calls to support were a joke. The real prize was being on hold for a couple of hours, finally talking to someone, describing the problem, then being disconnected. If one has low blood pressure, it is a sure cure. It goes the way of other great programs that were poorly supported and slowly but surely died.

  • I am having serious problems with Billing Matters, and I only have about 14 days left to return it for a FULL REFUND, so I would REALLY appreciate your opinions.

    About once a week (but twice THIS week) I get an error message that “Time Matters has detected a file in the database that needs to be Rebuilt. To Rebuild this file, everyone must exit Time Matters. Then run the Time Matters Utility Program (TMUTIL.EXE) and select Database Maintanence from the Utilities menu, then run a Rebuild. File: BILLING.”

    My IT guy costs $85 bucks an hour, my TM Trainer costs $100 bucks an hour, and downtime for my paralegals and staff is about $150 per hour. Not to mention the non-billables hours. I am hemorrhaging money.

    I have a brand new “virgin” Dell network, state of art (less than two months old). The only programs on the network are Legal Solutions, Microsoft Word, and Time Matters/Billing Matters. We have seven users.

    WHAT DO I DO? Scrap it? Go with Abacus? What?

    J. Kelso Lindsay, Esq.
    Advocacy Law Center APC
    4909 Lakewood Blvd
    Lakewood, CA 90712
    562.601.8133

  • Sam Glover

    For what it’s worth, that is the kind of error message I saw all the time with Billing Matters. It seems to be a cost of using the software.

  • Came across this forum while googling “time matters” sucks in pure frustration. My client has upgraded from TM7 to TM8, then to TM 9 Enterprise on promises of our billing finally completing without doing it 20 clients at a time.

    At least I can feel like I’m not a total failure as a network administrator. Despite thousands of dollars in software, dedicated storage arrays, memory upgrades, and time, this program continues to bomb out while running invoices.

    Everything said here about delays getting on the phone with BM support is true. I waited 1h45m today to be told I should receive a call back tomorrow.

    Thanks to everyone here who has posted and helped my case with my client!

  • M (prefers not to give)

    Thank You! Thank You! I am not alone in my struggle…. our firm has been using TM for the past 3 years. The sales person promised the world when we purchased v 6.0. We had several issues and, because we did not hire a consultant we were told the issues were due to various reasons of our own making. We were talked into purchasing BM to intergrate our billing and data functions and told that would help, more money wasted. Then we were told out server and network was slow, not configured properly, etc., and was causing “packet loss” which was slowing us down, causing us to freeze up, and crashing. So, after countless calls with tech support because of crashes, loss of data, corruption of files, etc….. we hired an independent consultant to review our network speed and configuration (more money out the window) and were told that, while our server was on slow side there was NO WAY we were having “packet loss” or any other such data loss. So, back we go to TM where we were told that, NOW it could be because our version was out dated and the newer versions worked much better, more stable, etc. OK, here we go spending thousands of more dollars to upgrade WITH the 3 yr contract for tech support (since we were going broke on the phone with them) and upgraded to v. 8.0. NO GOOD, lost files in the conversion (which was done by their tech remotely) and we were still having problems. So again, it is our server and desktop computers being out dated (about 5 years old). OK, so here we go again, we purchase new computers, still have errors; upgraded the network switch, still shutdowns, freeze ups, loss of data; we upgrade to v.9.0, no good; now we purchased a new, top of the line server a week ago and NOW IT IS EVEN WORSE! I have been on the phone with Tech, at their highest level, for hours, productivity is DOWN to a crawl, have rebuilt database no less than 10 times this week, and still NO RESOLUTION, even their highest level techs can’t understand the issues.

    Why do we stay, 1) amount of money currently invested in the program, software upgrades, hardware upgrades, etc. 2) the amount of files (over 2500 matters with notes, billing items, documents files, emails, legal research, to-dos, events, etc.) in TM currently would take weeks to input into another program 3) The program, when it does work, is really an excellent database, document production, scheduling, tracking and billing program (well no so great with billing) and 4) if we switched at this point I think my whole staff would quit!

    So, now that I have given you background here are my issues:
    1) slow in billing, posting, invoicing, check writing and anything else in the BM side. (slow as it click it and get a cup of coffee)
    2) the T0-Do’s constantly stop following
    3) events drop off the calendar
    4) if you are running virus scanning software you have to open emails in outlook first, leave them on the server, if no viruses are found then open them in TMs to attach the emails to a matter (the outlook TM attach just disappears on its own, very unstable)
    5) When creating a note, billing item, event or document mere, from the add or when you are in a matter, you have to always check to see that the matter ref is exactly what you are working on as it often flips to a different matter ref all together (even from within a matter file)
    6) The messanger does not always open on the receiver’s screen, I have about 5 users that no matter what, their messanger window or email notification does not show that they have received anything.
    7) When entering time in the notes, if you do not tab past the time entry to the next field, no time will show up. (a TM 9.0 issue)
    8) When printing note reports, from the options where you can pick a staff member, it will not allow you to select from the drop down menue. (another 9.0 upgrade known “oops”)
    9) Constant crashing, shut downs, and the dreaded “not responding” error with the wonderful “time matters will now shut down” message.
    10) When running reports, depending on the file size, you have to run the report 3,4 or 5 times to get the accurate numbers. Sometimes, you never get the accurate number, our bookkeeper has resorted to doing them manually (total loss of productivity)
    11) bills/invoices constantly get deleted/lost in cyber space from the posting que, esp if it locks up or shuts down when she is posting invoices. (again another total loss of productivity.

    There are soooo many more but I I think I took enough space on this board. If anyone has any suggestions (other than throw the program out the window and start with something else), PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE give me anything!!

  • Jeremy Hicks

    I’m in the same boat as KC.

    We started with Version 5 and a few months ago upgraded to 9. From 5 to 6 to 7 we only had to re-build/re-index once or twice a week, of course we didn’t use the integrated email program until V7 and the situation quickly deteriorated.

    After the inital purchase of V5, and experiencing the joys of working with TM phone support, subsequent support requests were few and far between. (Not because we didn’t have problems, but because we didn’t have 1-2 hours a day to waste on hold only to be called back and told “try re-building/re-indexing”.)

    When we started using the integrated email feature in V7 I had no choice but to bite the bullet and call. The software became so unstable it was unusable for 50+ percent of the day EVERY DAY. We were told that V9 was the answer to our problems. A version sent down from heaven, perfect in every way. (They didn’t actually say that, but the implication was unmistakable.)

    To my surprise we continued having the same problems with an extra helping of trouble on the side. Thank you “automatic update” feature.

    The first issue came with the very first update. The installer file was called “Setup.exe” and when executed, extracted the update file called “Setup.exe” – do you see where I’m going with this? The installer would launch, then try to extract the setup file, couldn’t because the filename was in use, but instead of erroring out, it re-opened itself. I really liked the programmer’s solution…

    After manually installing the first update ON EACH COMPUTER, a few days passed and we got a second update. This time the installer and update files were named “Setupa.exe” and Setupp.exe”. Yeah that problem was fixed which got my hopes up about the email feature.

    I checked and sure enough the look and setup options for “Communications” had changed. There was also a “Lexis Data Indexer” and “Email Agent”. They could have chosen more apt names for these items like “Duct Tape” and “Bailing Wire” because when I tried the email feature again it actually worked, sometimes for a whole day! – after logging everyone off, rebooting the server, re-building/re-indexing, crossing my fingers, saying a little prayer, and sacrificing a small animal.

    Currently I am looking at Amicus Attorney or something similar which uses .NET and SQL Server 2005. It’s a bit on the pricy side, and given all the money we’ve poured down the TM rabbit hole I want to get something that I know will work. Does anyone have experience with this or any other software package that I might could use? (Notice I didn’t ask for packages that are better than TM because I already know how to use Notepad and Outlook Express.)

  • Jamelle

    Jeremy. Your post is HILARIOUS. That made my day. I did a switch from TM to ProLaw. And pretty much, if you don’t expect much from the calendar or todos (yes the TM calendar and todos are superior) ProLaw does the job well in Billing, Matters, Contacts, and Microsoft Office Integration. In fact it doesn’t crash, which in fact it also its achilles heel. Sometimes if bombs out, and it won’t crash, not even if you want it to. You have to end the process in Task Manager. Have any questions just give me a holla@jamelle.com =)

  • J Mc

    Wow, we have also spent many hours on the phone with tech support to solve problems with crashing and slooooow product response time. We have always been told that there is some unknown problem on our side. Time is money, and so to correct these problems, at the advice of “tech support,” we have religiously purchased product updates and spent a lot of money upgrading our server and workstations to try to get the software to work quickly and as advertised.

    It is beginning to look like the real source of the problem is the outdated and buggy code. Who would actually think that about “the most popular and most award-winning practice management software.” No, no, I should spend more money to upgrade other areas of my network because it just couldn’t be Time Matters. All the Time Matters problems we have at our firm must truly be unheard of and isolated events.

    I want nothing more than a stable and fast case/client/document management software. If someone has any solutions to stabilize and speed up Time Matters then I would love to hear about them. Frankly, I’m beginning to think that I’ve been getting taken advantage of and I am open to looking at other software.

    Could it be that “product support” is a major source of income for Lexis? Why fix it when if it’s broke they cash in? After all, Microsoft can’t convince me to spend hundreds of dollars on a service plan for Word or Outlook. It is rather suspicious that a support contract costs so much, and yet I can’t get anyone on the phone! But then again, what is the techie’s rush – when THERE IS NO SOLUTION.

    If only there were some type of recourse for these seemingly false or misleading statements from Lexis support staff, intentionally, or at least recklessly, made that we have reasonably relied on and result in damages. Hmmm.

  • Tom Brooke

    We also use Timematters and we’ve been with it for several years since version 6 or so. We recently upgraded to version 9 and I agree with the comments her. It would be hard for me to list specific problems off the top of my head but we have had frequent crashes and the E-Mail is terribly slow. I am in North Carolina and TimeMatters was developed by a local company and the product and service were great. Since they got bought by Lexis the support has become terrible and expensive and the product has become bloated and I don’t feel it has kept up. We paid a good bit for the upgrade to version 9 and frankly it feels like a step backwards.

    We do not have Billing Matters and it is a huge pain to get a bill printed with Time Matters. I have been using Bill4Time to track my time and I am able to easily log my time and quickly create attractive bills. IF I could just get something like bill4time witht he document and matter management I’d be a happy camper.

    Tom Brooke

  • This is all music to my ears. I have a two person shop and have been running TM/BM 6,7, and 8 since 2004, switching to Enterprise in 2007 for the SQL underpinnings and to support a short-lived replacement program. I practice immigration law, and have spent a lot of time customizing it for my business-oriented practice. TM is closely integrated with HotDocs form templates I’ve also created.

    I went this route notwithstanding the plethora of immigration law practice software on the market, some of it pretty good. The reasons: 1) I didn’t want to get Wanged (i.e., stuck with obsolete software because it is too costly/troublesome to migrate off, and thereby getting socked by a sclerotic vendor with a diminishing revenue base); 2) I wanted complete control over the data; 3) I wanted an integrated and self contained solution; and 4) I did not want to pay for software by the drink, preferring to buy the bottle.

    In operation, my TM/BM + HotDocs arrangement is very satisfactory in doing what I assembled it to do. It is extremely plastic in the literal sense of the word – its greatest strength is its flexibility, and in the broadest sense I can customize it to how I work rather than having to go the other way around.

    Moreover, in operation I have never lost stored data, or been crippled by an unfixable corrupt database. For this I credit SQL.

    With that said, though, I really, really hate Time Matters. It crashes on me constantly, at least three times a day, sometimes more. (It was worse using Professional.) I have upgraded graphics cards, computers, networks, servers, routers, operating systems, TM versions, and it still crashes.

    After countless hours with tech support and trying to work out problems on my own, I wrote the CEO of LexisNexis about the crashes and received a call from the head of sales, who was going to hook me up with a special tech support guru. This turned out to be a nice enough guy who solved precisely nothing.

    The TM CIC forum is worse than useless, and my efforts at posting have been censored on numerous occasions for what any reasonable person would consider to be truly mild criticisma of the product in conjunction with well thought out technical descriptions of problems and attempted solutions.

    Some things I’ve concluded from my years of time and money thrown at TM: 1) Its client software is, for me, inherently unstable in any hardware configuration I have ever used it with; 2) I have learned to constantly save my work while using TM/BM, because a crash can occur at any moment without warning, a measure I have needed for no other software since about 1998; 3) The program documentation provides no meaningful assistance in troubleshooting, and, as someone once said about it along the way, goes into great length to explain the obvious; 4) Lexis’ business model seems to track Detroit’s in about 1956 – bring out a new product every year with some new bells and whistles, but don’t bother with fixing the creaky underpinnings; 5) When you get a good tech support person on the line, they can be golden – one of them transferred my SQL database onto a new server (after an expensive Enterprise and edition upgrade) which has performed flawlessly since (the SQL, that is); 6) Don’t’ waste time on getting unreliable features to work – TM Messenger has never worked properly on my client (although it seems to work on my paralegal’s). It freezes, won’t start, and delivers messages late. I dumped it. Same with the email client. Once TM introduced decent integration with Outlook, I returned to using it for my email, and save worthwhile correspondence into TM using the connect button. I probably saved two wasted days by giving up early on trying to get the Blackberry-TM synch to work; 7) The connections add-ins to MS Office programs and the Explorer and Firefox browsers are quite good when they work, which is usually. 8) HotDocs is far more reliable than TM, and if there is a glitch in the integration, I always know where to look first. For some reason, TM provides no connect button in HotDocs 2007 Pro, even though the products are jointly owned. Go figure.; 9) Create a disk image of the drive where the TM SQL database is located and do a nightly differential backup, keeping a copy off site. I live in fear of having to reinstall TM on a new server and getting it running again. Better to just restore a recent snapshot of the whole thing. Saved my bacon once, big time. Do SQL backups every day, too. 10) From the idiosynchrocies I’ve seen in the BM billing software and my brief time using Billing Matters Plus a couple of years ago, I would not trust it to keep my books. I use QuickBooks, without TM integration. I do use BM for Trust Accounting (in conjunction with QuickBooks) and it produces worthwhile reports; 11) The report creation functions built into the baseline product are, with a couple of notable exceptions, largely worthless to me, and creating custom reports seems to require a degree in software engineering. They should learn from Intuit.; 12) TM is turning into a Wang word processor.

    Lexis could fix this software. It would be a beautiful thing if they put some money into fixing the underlying problems and improving the clunky, non-intuitive and click-intensive interface. And fixed the crashes. And leveled with their customers about the problems. No signs of that, though.

    If I’m so unhappy, why not just dump it then, you ask? Because when it works, I really, really like it. It brings order to the chaos. It reminds me that a client’s employee needs to do something in a year or he’ll be SOL for a status extension, and it prompts me to create the reminder for it two years before. It dumps a huge dollop of data into a complex Homeland Security form, in quadruplicate, and (most) everything finds its way into the right place. It creates and exports post and email lists beautifully. The field mapping functions are very powerful.

    OK, would I recommend TM/BM to a new user? If they go in with their eyes open, intend to highly customize the basic package, know that it will drive them crazy and know where the point of diminishing returns is on trying to eliminate crashes or getting certain features to work, I would say yes, absolutely buy it. For someone walking in the door and expecting TM/BM to work as seamlessly as Outlook or QuickBooks (or an iPhone, for that matter), then be afraid, be very afraid.

    Chuck Tievsky

  • Kristi Bodin

    Just another voice in the chorus. I started using TM in 1999 and have upgraded as time has gone on. Am now in a four-attorney firm where I am the only TM user — can’t convince the partners to use it at all. My legal assistant and I are the only users. Program crashes at least 5-6 times per day. Email is a nightmare. It’s kind of like the little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. When it is good, it is very very good, but when it is bad, it is horrid.

    I’d change to something else, but I’d probably have to pay for it out of pocket since the Luddites who control the purse strings around here have no interest in such things.

    It’s really a shame.

  • Bill Rambaum

    What annoys me the most, is the hundreds of hours spent over the last 4 or 5 years with Tech Support, complaining about slowness, and product crashes, and repeatedly asking them whether these are common problems to other users, and being told that they haven’t heard about any such problems before, and that our problems are unique and must be the fault of our network. Frankly, if TM had been honest and told me that the problems we have are widespread, I would have dumped the program years ago instead of buying upgrades based on the false promises that the newer versions don’t have any of these problems. If GM sold cars that just shut off 3 or 4 times a day, they would never get away with it. For some reason, software manufacturers just seem to think they have no obligation to truthfully disclose the defects in their products. Worse yet, they just outright lie to you when you ask if the problems are common.

  • I have used timematters since version 5. Now on 7 enterprise, 14 users. Hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into this program. Just spent over $3,000 to try fix a database problem and its not fixed. Crashes multiple times per day. I want to switch but to what? I would LOVE to see someone post what program they went to after tm that worked out reasonably well. I see lexis taking the wrong direction here and am ready to bail out. But what to use for a replacement? I run a bankruptcy practice, high volume. Please post and share a success story if there is one out there!

  • I am a solo with no secretary running TM6 Pro on a Dell desktop that is less than 1 year old. It still crashes regularly, is slow to bring up screens, loses e-mail attachments, etc. Obviously it isn’t the network, since there isn’t one! The entire system is self-contained in one computer as server and workstation. This blows out a lot of the excuses that people talk about getting from LN. These posts really have me wondering whether I should continue to use the product, let alone upgrade, as it does not appear to have a future. You have all given me something to think about.

  • Thank you all for your comments. Today I typed my latest TM error into google search and found this site. I have looked several times for forums to see if others were having even .1% of my problems with TM, and turns out I am not alone. I don’t give up easily, but after reading your comments, TM is “out-the-window” tomorrow.

    Our sales rep touted LexisNexis Practice Advantage (Front and Back Office) as the greatest integrated software ever. (period.)So we purchased version 7 (I think) and had trouble from the get-go. We did not purchase the service contract but ended up spending thousands of dollars in time as various staff (attorney, paralegal and bookkeepers) attempted to install and launch the award-winning software. Finally our rep convinced us to purchase LexisNexis Practice Advantage 9 and called a consultant for us. She charged $185 per hour and helped me set it up — the program is non-intuitive and of course there is no manual. I have asked three or four Lexis rep/tech/consultant(s) for a current manual or even an old one and have been promised by each that I would get one. Never happened.

    Well, I sent the first statements out with no problem and really liked the software but was stumped at printing a P & L so had the consultant come back. Turns out that even though I had entered “beginning balances” where the program indicated, because they were not tied to a GL account, I had committed a “fatal error,” and would not be able to run correct reports. Correcting this error, according to the consultant meant deleting all entries (money going out and money coming in)from January 1, 2008. It was now the end of March. After about $2,000 of consulting, I opted out of the “back office” part of TM.

    Because my boss was furious with the time and money spent, he complained loudly to our new rep, but by the time we got action, I had already copied all the money entries into QuickBooks 2008 and simply left the TM portion intact for our attorneys. A high level TM tech eventually corrected my “fatal error” in about twenty minutes, but by then I had QB up and running and was hesitant to return to the back office part of TM.

    But TM continued to crash and I continued to try harder. We got a new server and three new HP computers with 4GB and Vista Ultimate. Our tech copied everything over to the new server and guess what? We lost data. I had to go back a week for the largest file to restore. The next day I patiently compared paperwork and caught up….not such a bad problem except that four days’ time which could not be reconstructed was lost — over $6,000.

    With the new server and new computers we still had problems. Last Friday I was on the phone with tech for two hours. Problem solved, I thought. Next day, more trouble – could not open TM at all. I have spent most of today trying to find the file error which haunts. I called tech and may get a call back tomorrow.Finally I went online and found you-guys. Thanks for opening my eyes.

    A conservative estimate of total $$$ expended thus far is well over $20,000. I plan to stay with QB. Does anyone have a suggestion as to a time program for our attorneys?

    joycemcfadden@gmail.com

  • @Joyce: I have been using Freshbooks for my timekeeping and billing for a few months now, and I love it.

  • Martina Collins

    Sam what practice management software did you move to, or are you just using Freshbooks? We recently installed SR2 for Time Matters 9 in the hope of eliminating some “glitches” and while one or two issues were solved, SR2 created a few new problems so we are really losing faith with this program

  • I don’t use practice management software. All it does is track contacts, appointments, tasks, email, and (sometimes) time. There are better ways to do each of those things.

    Right now, I use Gmail, Google Calendar, Remember the Milk, Plaxo, and Freshbooks. Open them up in tabs in Firefox, and it’s a practice management suite that I can access from any computer without mucking around with remote access.

  • I came across this site and it is refreshing to know that I am not the only one who has ongoing problems with Time Matters. I have used Time Matters for several years and earlier this year we made the decision to upgrade to the Enterprise Version 9. In preparation for this we also purchased a new server. We have continued to have daily problems with crashes. I started doing screen captures of the “Database Problem Detected” …a file in the database needs to be Rebuilt messages to show my consultants and Time Matters what was happening, but I stopped doing that long ago because the problem does not seem to have a solution.

    I, like other users, have an office where it is extremely difficult (not to mention the expense) to switch over to a different case management system. There is a large learning curve for staff no matter what program it is. The frustrating thing is the bizarre notion from Time Matters and their consultants that nothing is wrong. Any time I have spoken to Time Matters support or any consultant they act like this is the first time they have heard of such a problem. The program could be good if they just made a few changes, however first the company has to be willing to recognize there is a problem.Very frustrating. It’s too bad I can’t bill Time Matters for all the loss of productivity and my technical support bills.

  • Greg Broiles

    As a TM user since 2003/Version 5.0, I have a few suggestions to make TM workable (not perfect, but mostly functional):

    1. Run Enterprise, not Pro.
    2. Do not attempt to integrate E-mail and Time Matters.
    3. If you have a computer with multiple cores, run a program such as the Task Assignment Manager from and force Time Matters and TM Messenger to run on the same core.

    I realize that (1) sucks because it’s more expensive but it seems to be the consensus among experienced users/consultants. It’s tough to get people to say it openly because consultants don’t want to be seen as dissing half of Lexis’ product line.

    (2) sucks because people like Email integration – but it’s tough to find someone who’s having big TM problems who hasn’t been trying to use Email features, and relatively easy to find people who are using TM without a lot of trouble and without Email.

    (3) is ridiculous – I don’t have any other software that won’t run on a modern multicore processor – but assigning TM and Messenger to just one core made my machines much more stable, so there it is.

  • Jamelle

    @Previous posts
    Hey guys in case anyone missed my post above I’ll put in it caps here. I MOVED FROM TIME MATTERS TO PROLAW BY THOMPSON WEST AND AM LOVING IT!!!! Their support is responsive, there is an active positive community on yahoo groups (forums kinda suck). And they actually release improvements based on what their customers need, in addition to letting some advanced customers in on Beta Testing Versions to sort out the kinks. The road was hard, took us all of 2008 to move and get settled in nicely, but the rewards far out strip the dangers. I wrote my own Custom Time Matters to ProLaw conversion, and even then it was EXTREMELY tough, like 2-3 months of hard cleanup after the fact, and a whole lot more of small fixes. But thing is, I am way happier, and my users are more productive now than we were with Time Matters.

  • John Lynch

    Wow – I just read the comments and thought I was alone. I hate the program but don’t know what to do.

  • Monsieur Madeleine

    Time Matters is such a joke. I have wasted literally hundreds of hours over the years trying to get this piece of junk software to work. Every version is promised to be so great, but each version becomes more and more unstable.

    If anyone has any thoughts of purchasing it, save yourself the time and money and simply hit yourself in the head with a two by four until you lose consciousness. When you regain consciousness, repeat. After a few weeks of this, you will have begun to experience what so many others have. But think of the money you’ll have saved!

    The ONLY reason anyone continues with Time Matters is because the state of legal case management software is in such a sorry condition. Lawyers meander like zombies between Time Matters, Abacus Law, and Amicus Attorney. Some get tired and go to overpriced products like Needles or more esoteric products that sell for thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. (I hear Needles actually works.)

    If there were a product like Sam described, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. But there isn’t. Time Matters started out as a PIM, anyway, just slightly different than Goldmine and the like.

    If someone created a Matter-centric program that also worked with calendaring and kept track of time every step of the way, then we’d have something.

    Is it possible that File Maker Pro 10 offers a solution? Maybe, like Sam suggested, a collection of various programs, such as Excel/Outlook/Word/Paperport or OpenOffice3/Ubuntu/(some scanning/OCR program)? I understand one of these days Lightning might catch up with Thunderbird, in which case that will be part of a good solution.

    DIGRESSION ALERT: POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS WITH SOFTWARE YOU ALREADY HAVE

    I’m thinking of this as a possible workaround: Use Excel as a ‘database’ of sorts. The VLOOKUP function is a powerful way of bring in multiple cells in a row from one sheet into another sheet. Excel is already great for sorting and summing, so in many ways, one can create a simple relational database without all the hassles and bugs of Access (and Time Matters!). One sheet for Contacts, one sheet for Matters, another for Events/ToDos (if not simply in Outlook, with each Matter as its own Category that is assigned to an Email, Appointment, or Task. Likewise, each matter would have its own folder in Outlook where each email Sent and Received is placed. Outlook will sort all Appointments and Tasks per Category by date, subject, etc.) Additionally, in Excel, one have a sheet for every type of subform Time Matters has, but they’d all be on one sheet, whether it be a Phone Call, Mail, Fax, etc. All the Matters (and Contacts) could be in the first couple of columns of the sheet, brought in via VLOOKUP or simply typed in and filled in with Autofill.

    Excel easily interacts with Word for Merge Letters. Also, free times abound that will Start/Pause/Stop/Reset and log the Elapsed Time in a given row. Hence, a free, functional Time Sheet. (Or, one could simply subtract the End Time from Start Time.) e.g. http://www.planet-source-code.com/vb/scripts/ShowCode.asp?txtCodeId=34409&lngWId=1 (Just Google “Excel timer stopwatch” and the first page will have tons of examples.)

    The beauty of this Excel/Outlook combination is SIMPLICITY. Plus, it JUST PLAIN WORKS! (Personally, I’ve had Office 2007 twice, but I prefer the ‘simplicity’ of Office 2003. Excel 2003 isn’t quite as robust as Excel 2007, but I think it’s good enough for my purposes.

    Plus, with so much in Excel, you can export your data if a better solution comes along. (I’d like a solution better than Outlook for that very reason. Who has used Ubuntu? Is it just as good as Outlook? Will it run on XP, or must one have Linux? I know there’s VirtualBox, but does it really work? I’m scared to go Linux!)

    END DIGRESSION

    I keep going back to Time Matters like a…like a…like a lawyer who wants an all-in-one solution (like a junkie addicted to heroin, me, the lawyer, being the junkie, and the all-in-one solution being the heroin). I just don’t think it exists. (I do have a mentor who takes every opportunity to say how his WordPerfect 5.1 solution still works for him. With only about twelve fields and the beauty of the 8.3 naming convention, he can find anything/create anything in three seconds or less. Seeing that old time DOS stuff run is amazing… And with a ten dollar week-at-a-glance paper calendar, he’s running circles around all of us.)

    So, once again:

    ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO BUY/CONTINUE WITH TIME MATTERS

    and

    cobble together what you already have (such as how I described). In the long run, you’ll be miles ahead.

    (P.S. I agree with everything most have said about Time Matters ignoring the pleas of the masses to fix their software, and cannot understand how Tom and Wells can say, again and again, that it’s just a few who are having problems and that the CIC forum doesn’t crush dissent. Next they’ll be saying that Time Matters has found the Weapons of Mass Destruction. Actually, Time Matters IS a weapon of mass destruction (IMHO). Don’t let it destroy you in the process!)

  • Barbara Sloan

    In our law firm, each lawyer has a personal computer drive. They tend to draft and work on legal documents in their personal drives, and later someone has to link their documents into Time Matters. This takes a lot of time, but the lawyers, especially the older ones, don’t want to go through the hassle of filling out the Time Matters form when drafting a document. Plus we have hundreds of documents that were created before we subscribed to Time Matters. 1) Is there some way to encourage lawyers to stop creating documents in their personal drives, and use Time Matters and 2) is there a quick way to link all the documents we have (that aren’t currently in Time Matters) into Time Matters? Has anyone else had these problems? Any tips would be appreciated.

  • Software that is difficult to use tends not to get used. Time Matters is not just difficult, it is a pain in the ass to get it to do anything truly useful.

    At my firm, we use Dropbox to share files across computers—both in and out of the office. It automatically syncs files so that everyone has access to the same files. For version control, we simply date every document and revision and save as a separate file. Everyone is trained in and uses the same filing conventions.

    Extremely low effort, and practically zero administration time makes this a very usable system.

  • DrewMcG

    Sam: Thanks much for this very useful site! I just joined, and have been investigating using TIme Matters 10.0 for my (new) solo practice. I stumbled across TM as a possible cost-effective solution to document management (i.e., a records database of scanned and other pdf and digital files), on the recommendation here: http://www.keytlaw.com/tech/paperless.htm . Clearly someone with a positive experience with TM.

    Question: What happened to the “speeding-up-time-matters” 2009 posts? Were there really no posts between Jan. 2009 and Jan. 2010? Given the frequency of posts in 2008, this surprises me (perhaps your blog took a leave-of-absence?). I ask only because I found this thread very helpful in evaluating my decision of whether or not to invest time/money into TM.

    Next question: What software/workflow solutions are you using now for practice management (besides Dropbox)? Are you still using the solutions you discussed here:

    “Sam Glover August 5, 2008 at 9:12 am
    I don’t use practice management software. All it does is track contacts, appointments, tasks, email, and (sometimes) time. There are better ways to do each of those things.
    Right now, I use Gmail, Google Calendar, Remember the Milk, Plaxo, and Freshbooks. Open them up in tabs in Firefox, and it’s a practice management suite that I can access from any computer without mucking around with remote access.

    Pasted from “?

    Thanks, again, for this enormously useful blog/thread. DrewMcG.

  • Not sure what more you expected to find on Time Matters. I stopped using it shortly after this post. Bad software is not worth my time. Here is what I use now, although I see that is a bit out of date, as well.

  • David (MSSE)

    I am a software engineer working to convert data out of time matters database into another system. To be honest, this is one of the most poorly designed databases I have ever seen. Please tell them to read some journals or simply google Boyce Codd Normal Form. Having varchar types for your primary index is one reason why the thing is slow.

  • I used Time Matters in the past myself and i must say I’m far from being satisfied.
    Thanks for this post, i really enjoy your writting.

  • Bob

    Over the last two months we have had the latest problems with TM7 – we get the dreaded “Time Matters has detected a file in the database that needs to be Rebuilt”!!! We have done exactly as they instruct and it is never fixed!!

    God, I do wish I had seen this site before I committed to TimeMatters way back when. I estimate that I have over $100,000 sunk into trying to make TM and BM+ work and it has never worked even remotely correctly since LexisNexis took it over!! And my experiences have totally paralleled those set out above. However, I do wish someone could stop complaining for a minute and tell me how to solve the TMUTIL7.EXE problem! I just want it to work since I am about 3 years away from retirement at age 70 and I have no interest in trying to figure out / pay for a new program now!!

  • George Martin

    As a Sr. Systems Architect at a Law Firm, I can’t tell you how many countless hours, days and weekends I have been called upon to fix TM. All to no avail. The common reoccuring theme is that it never TM that is at fault, but “other” network “things” at play. I run a very tight ship and my network is top notch. I have been doing this a long time and I know how to make a network function.

    The bottom line is that TM is crap. It’s lousy software that just doen’t work properly. From every version and upgrade, it’s always back to slowness and a lot of crashing. Countless wasted hours, countless missed family outings and countless ear aches from having a phone plastered to my head all day trying to work with a useless tech support staff at TM.

    So, I have decided to put more effort into showing our staff that TM is useless. Instead of fixing the issues, which can’t be fixed, I have decided to put forth the effort to move away from TM. Once I get set up on a new system and it works perfectly, I will let you know what I am using.

    Good luck….. Someday soon I hope we all find a better solution.

  • Time Matters User

    Why would LexisNexis name its’ software as if time actually matters when it doesn’t matter at all when using the software. We are up to Version 12 and I have never experience such a slow slog of a database.

    Is there any other technical company designing a better data base? If so, could you please incorporate us downloading our files FROM Time Matters to yours?