Importing Fees and Expenses

Contents

 

Overview

You can import fees and expenses from other programs into RTG Bills. For example, you might want to use a case management program such as Time Matters* or Amicus Attorney*. We'll call this other program the source program.

This page describes a program, RTG Bills Import, that you can use to read the fees and expenses generated by a source program. RTG Bills Import is free and you can download and install it from within RTG Bills.

 

Importing CSV Files

The source program must write the fees and expenses to a file in "comma-delimited" format, also known as "comma-separated values" or CSV format. Most programs have this capability. It is often described as a "link" to other programs or as an "export" feature.

Here is a sample fee transaction written in CSV format:

6,"1234-2","T","CEW","Consultation with expert witness",04/19/00,3.50,200.00

This line represents one transaction or record. The fields (timekeeper, date, etc.) are separated by commas. In this example, the fields are:

  1. Timekeeper number (6)
  2. Matter number (1234-2)
  3. Transaction type (T for Time)
  4. Activity code (CEW)
  5. Description
  6. Date (04/19/00)
  7. Hours (3.50)
  8. Hourly rate ($200.00)

RTG Bills Import uses these fields to create an hourly rate transaction.

More information about the fields required by RTG Bills and their possible formats in the CSV file can be found below.

 

The Import Program

RTG Bills Import is a separate program, not part of RTG Bills. However, the data that is read by the import program is stored directly in the RTG Bills database.

Note: Timekeeper Licenses
Although the import program is free, you can only import fees and expenses for a timekeeper if you have a license to use RTG Timer for that timekeeper. In other words, you must have entered a Timekeeper Key in RTG Bills for each timekeeper whose fees and expenses are to be imported.

Order RTG Timer Licenses

Install RTG Bills Import as an update. Start RTG Bills by right-clicking the icon and choosing Run as administrator. When RTG Bills starts, choose File > Update > Yes from the RTG Bills menu. Click Check The Internet For Updates. Find RTG Bills Import on the list of updates. Check that item and click Install. After installation, exit from RTG Update.

Start RTG Bills again and choose File > Tools from the RTG Bills menu. Find Import Fees and Expenses on the list. Select that item and click OK to start RTG Bills Import.

First, tell RTG Bills Import where to find the data file created by the source program.

Next, click the Configure button. Here is the hard part: you have to associate the fields in RTG Bills with the corresponding fields in the source program.

Some source programs put the field names on the first line of the data file. (This can help you figure out what the fields are.) If yours does this, check the box Ignore First Line. If your source program does not do this, uncheck the box (or the first record will be ignored).

When the configuration is complete, click Save.

Click the Test button. First the import program will read the entire data file and check that it has commas and quotation marks in the right places. It also checks that every record has the same number of fields, and it counts the number of records.

Then the first record from the data file is displayed. Check it carefully to see if you have the configuration correct.

When you click OK, the second record is displayed. If the first record was correct but the second one is not, it means the configuration isn't reading the correct number of fields.

If you see a problem, correct the configuration and try again. When it looks correct, click the Import button to read the data into RTG Bills.

The import process works in two phases. In the first phase, every data record is read and checked. If any problems are found, the program reports them and stops. At this point, no data has been imported. Fix the problem and try again.

If the first phase runs without any errors, the second phase reads the data again and imports it into RTG Bills. A message tells you when it is done.

 

Data Requirements

The data you want to import may not be exactly like our example. For one thing, the fields may appear in a different order and there may be many irrelevant fields as well. For another, the actual data may be in a different format. For example, the timekeeper may be a number or initials. All of this must be taken into account when creating a "configuration" in RTG Bills Import. Once you specify this information, it is saved so you won't need to do it again.

Here are some of the possible variations in the data itself:

  1. Timekeeper
    The timekeeper may be either a number (1 to 99) or the timekeeper's initials.

  2. Matter number
    If the matter number is one field, as in the example (1234-2), the client number (1234) may be separated from the case number (2) by either a hyphen or a period. The import program can also accept separate fields for the client number and the case number.

  3. Transaction type
    There are three ways to get the transaction type:
    • From the activity code, if every transaction has an activity code (recommended)
    • From a field with the value T for hourly rate transactions or E for unit cost transactions (used by Time Matters)
    • From a field with the value R for hourly rate transactions, F for fixed-fee transactions, E for expense transactions, or U for unit cost transactions (used internally by RTG Bills)
    If the transaction type is not specified in one of these ways, the import program will try to guess the type from the values of other fields.

  4. Activity code
    The activity code must be 2 to 4 characters. Since an activity code in RTG Bills always specifies a transaction type, the "transaction type" field is not required if every record has an activity code. However, activity codes are optional in RTG Bills, so it is not a requirement that the imported records have an activity code.

  5. Description
    This text is copied to the description in RTG Bills. The import program allows for two description fields, and the second (optional) one is placed after the first, with a space between them. Some source programs have a short description field but also a longer memo field, and thus they can be combined to give a single description in RTG Bills.

  6. Date
    The date format must be compatible with the Regional Settings in the Windows Control Panel. The setting in Windows determines whether the month comes before or after the day.

  7. Hours and Quantity
    An hourly rate transaction and a fixed fee transaction can accept a number of hours in decimal format. The quantity for a unit cost transaction may appear in the same field, or it may be a different field.

  8. Hourly Rate or Unit Cost
    An hourly rate transaction requires an hourly rate. A unit cost transaction requires a "per unit" cost. These may be two separate fields or one shared field.

  9. Expense or Fixed Fee Amount
    An expense transaction requires an amount, as does a fixed fee transaction. These may be two separate fields or one shared field.
Contact RTG if you need help creating the proper configuration.
 

Automatic Operation

Some source programs can write the data to a disk file and then run a program to import it. Once the RTG Bills Import configuration is correct, you can run it in this way to automatically import the data into RTG Bills every time you export the data from the source program.

In order for this to work, you have to run RTG Bills Import with a command-line argument of 1 (the numeral one). If your source program has a place to enter command-line arguments, just type in a 1.

Automatic operation requires that your source program write the data to the same filename every time.

 
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