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New user here -- more or less -- I spent a lot of time working with FM in the early 1990s, but the...

Question asked by dogdaysrhere on Mar 9, 2015
Latest reply on Nov 4, 2015 by wvalawyer10800

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New user here -- more or less -- I spent a lot of time working with FM in the early 1990s, but the program has many more advanced features now (or I wasn't aware of, or didn't need, its many features then).

In any event, I'm a solo practitioner, doing appellate legal work for kids and indigent parents -- which is relevant to my question.

I am well on the way to creating a database from scratch for case management purposes (with contact info, court info, important deadlines, etc), but I want to use it for time keeping, as well.  The Time Billing Starter Solution looks great but it has bells and whistles that I don't need/can't use: I have to use the online billing portal of the agency for whom I work as an independent contractor, so I'll never issue invoices to my clients. In addition, the Starter Solution is very customer/commercial oriented. I couldn't figure out how to readily customize the Solution by stripping those designations/details out.

So instead, I have been going back and forth between Manage Database and the inspector in the Time Billing Starter Solution and my own new TIME LOG Table within my Case/Client DB to create and define fields, and am running into a couple of problems beyond my competence to resolve.  FYI: I have been scouring info online, both in forums and on YouTube, and I also bought the "missing manual" ebook (which I'm only 1/3rd of the way into).  I'm telling the folks here that so that you know I'm serious and trying to be respectful of your time.

What I'm trying to achieve -- a clean and detailed way to track my time and chargeable expenses that permits me to:

(i) track all of my time and tasks with sufficient detail to permit me to satisfy any agency audits;

(ii) be able to readily move between my time sheets to the online portal to manually input my time/bill;

(iii) be able to have a new record for each chunk of time I've billed as well as a cumulative record of all time billed on each case;

(iv) ensure that my time keeping matches the billing protocol of the agency -- specifically, my contract requires that I bill in 6 minute intervals, and that I round down; and

(v) have a separate but related table for certain kinds of reiumbursables (brief binding, postage, etc).

First question: Does it sound like I'm asking too much of a single database -- is there a strong reason that I should separate time keeping from case management?

Second question: Currently HOURS = (END TIME - START TIME).  How do a define the calculation in a new field, called "BILLABLE TIME," to convert HOURS to 10th of an hour, rounded down to the nearest 10th?

Third question:One of the videos I watched was very helpful in terms of introducing me to some helpful features like Portals and Buttons, and so I had adopted his recommendation to create a field called CLIENTIDfk (where fk = "foreign key" - as a way to flag a field whose contents is based on a relationship t a field in another table.  Are the "MATCH FIELD"(s) in the starter solutions the more common protocol for designating a field whose value will come from another field in another table? (I've only got test data in the DB so far so I could modify that without losing any data if it made sense to do so).

Fourth question: I'm studying the Relationships & Fields Tabs in the Starter Solution, and am unable to figure out what role each of the "Match Fields" plays and whether I need all of them:

(i) Active Match Field (Defined as "Data" --> "Active" and "Global Storage" is set to ON -- what does that mean?)

(ii) Customer ID Match field (A serial number in the Customer Table, but defined by the calculated value $$CURRENT_CUSTOMER_ID in the Time Billings Table.  ??

(iii) Pending Match Field (Defined as "Data" -- "Pending" and "Global Storage" is also set to ON)

(iv) Time Billing ID Match Field (Defined the calculated value $$CURRENT_TIME_BILLING_ID  in in the Time Billing Data Layout. ???

Thanks in advance for any and all help.

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