Law: Barcodes make light work: Sharon Wallach checks out how to cash in on supermarket technology
Friday 04 March 1994
Solicitors at Penman Johnson wield light pens over barcodes to note the time spent on each of their cases in preference to the age-old method of noting each action by hand.
A barcode is created for each client. The light pens, containing lasers, are electronically tagged to each fee earner. Each time a transaction is completed - a letter written, a telephone call answered - the pen is 'swiped' over time-unit, time-rate and work-type codes.
The information is then stored in the pen, which can carry up to 800 transactions before being transferred on to the computer.
The firm's acquisition of the system came about following a DTI initiative consultancy carried out in July 1992. 'Basically, they told us to update our management sytem, which meant we had to computerise,' says Ian Avent, one of the firm's three partners. 'Because we had delayed getting computerised, we ended up with very up-to-date kit.'
Mr Avent says the system has several advantages. It provides a time read-out, which clarifies any disputes over bills. Most important, it saves time and money. The manual method is inefficient as, in practice, time-recording is often left to the end of the day, and some actions are inevitably forgotten. The light pen system is so easy and fun to use that this rarely happens. 'If you forget to put down a letter, you've kissed goodbye to pounds 10 or pounds 12,' Mr Avent says. 'Multiplied over a year, that could come to several thousand pounds.'
The system cost around pounds 8,000 to install; the pens, of which the firm has 10, are pounds 500 each. Has the system paid for itself? Definitely, Mr Avent says. 'We've certainly seen an increase in billing and in the money coming into the firm. It allows us to have management information at our fingertips. This means that we don't have to employ someone to imput, and we are saving on a computer operative, so in effect the system paid for itself in the first year.'
educationTo mark International Women's Day, Sarah Brown on how charities have brought proper joined-up thinking to the delivery of education
Lammily: Barbie-like doll hits Kickstarter fundraising target in a day
12 Years A Slave star Lupita Nyong’o on racism in beauty: 'Every day I woke up hoping my skin was a little bit lighter'
Belle Knox: How a porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
Oscar Pistorius trial: Neighbour feared South African athlete would use gun that killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to shoot himself
Top 10 most expensive cities in the world: Singapore named costliest place to live – but what about London?
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 First clip of Outkast's Andre 3000 in Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side emerges
£1200 per month: Inspiring Interns: Our client is one of Europes leading mobi...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Founded in 2008 by two Chinese tech entre...
£12000 - £18000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a high-end niche t...
£22000 - £25000 per annum, Benefits: Subsidised gym membership, 25 days holiday...