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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


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.