November 2002

Split Billing

Split billing, a major new feature, will be introduced in the next version of RTG Bills. Split billing distributes the charges on a matter to two or more clients. You enter the fees and expenses once, and RTG Bills creates separate bills for each client showing the total charges and their share of the total.

To set up split billing, you create one primary matter that will be used for entering all fees and expenses. Then you create a secondary matter for each client that will share the charges. For example, if two clients will share the charges, you would have one primary matter and two secondary matters. You can specify the percentage of fees and expenses to be billed to each client.

Once you've set it up, the rest is easy. You enter the fees and expenses using the primary matter. When you print bills, you won't get a bill for the primary matter, but RTG Bills creates bills for each secondary matter instead. Each bill shows the total charges and that client's share of the total.

When you receive a payment from a client, you apply it to that client's secondary matter. The secondary matter keeps track of the client's balance.

Split billing will be a standard feature in RTG Bills Version 2.09. We'll be offering a free, downloadable upgrade from Version 2.08.

Unapplied Payments

In previous versions of RTG Bills, a payment is always applied to fees, expenses, late charges, and taxes at the time the payment is entered. Using automatic allocation, RTG Bills takes the total amount of the payment and compares it to the balance due. It uses the payment to pay the taxes, late charges, expenses, and fees due, in that order.

Sometimes you may receive a payment before you bill the client. In that case, RTG Bills looks for unbilled fees and expenses. It applies the payment based on the assumption that you will bill those items on the next bill. That assumption may not hold, because you are free to change the unbilled items or add new ones before you print the next bill. Also, late charges and taxes on new items are not calculated until a bill is created, so the payment will not be applied to them.

The next version of RTG Bills will change the automatic allocation of payments. Rather than try to figure out the allocation when you enter the payment, RTG Bills will consider the payment an unapplied payment at the time you enter it. When a bill is created, any unapplied payments will be applied to the previous balance first. After late charges and taxes are calculated, any remaining unapplied payments will be applied to the new balance.

Client payments that exceed the amount due for the matter should be handled more easily and more accurately by this new feature.

Backing Up A PC, Part 2

In the September issue we mentioned that we were testing Stomp's Backup MyPC for writing backups to a CD-RW drive. Here's an update.

Backup MyPC works, but it is awkward to determine what files and folders you are backing up. From within the software, you must navigate through a directory tree to see what is on the backup disk, so you can't see more than one branch of the tree at a time. We'd prefer to see a list of all the folders that are included in the backup.

Also, the CD-RW disk created by Backup MyPC shows a single file when viewed from Windows. You can't get any information about its contents without using the Backup MyPC software.

So we decided not to use Backup MyPC and we installed Roxio's Easy CD Creator 5 instead. Although this is not a backup program, it includes DirectCD software that allows ordinary Windows programs to write on a CD-RW disk as if it were a large floppy disk or a Zip disk.

Reading a CD-RW disk requires special software on a computer that does not have DirectCD installed. However, the necessary software can be installed on any Windows computer from the CD itself, which is a very nice feature. In effect, you can read the CD-RW disk on any Windows computer that has a CD drive.

A simple MS-DOS batch file creates several zip files containing the folders we want backed up, then it copies the zip files to the CD-RW drive. For example, one zip file contains the entire My Documents folder, except that we exclude program (.exe) files. To create the zip files, we use the free software from Info-Zip.

The Windows Task Scheduler is set to run the batch file and create a new backup every night at 8 PM. At the end of each week, we take the CD-RW disk off-site and put in a different one.

We had been using this same scheme to do backups to a Zip drive. When the size of the backup exceeded the 100 MB capacity of our Zip drive, we hoped to find commercial software that would do the backups to a CD-RW instead. The ones we tried were disappointing, so we've returned to the old homegrown method.

RTG Bills and RTG Timer are trademarks of RTG Data Systems. Other company and product names may be trademarks of the companies with which they are associated.

Back to the RTG News page