ProVantage Software, Inc. (formerly Custom Software Services, Inc.) is a privately held company. ProVantage Software, Inc. (PSI) was started in 1979 as an economic and management consulting firm. The company conducted feasibility and project management studies, executive and technical/professional recruitment, and social and economic impact assessments for large-scale projects such as hydroelectric dams, mining projects, and pipelines. Today, the company continues to provide technical/professional recruitment for the federal government and private clients under the brand of Frank Orth & Associates (FOA). Our FOA staff of seven employees in 1983 now numbers in excess of 30 full-time and contract employees even as we have focused exclusively on the technical/professional recruitment and research aspects of that side of our business.
The company started its software business in 1983. We have been focused on the legal vertical market (including law firms, corporate legal departments, and government legal agencies) since that time. Today, over ninety-five (95) percent of our software and related services revenue is generated from sales to law firms with the balance to other types of professional services firms. PSI has experienced steady growth and has an installed base of more than 75 law firms ranging in size from 3 attorneys to 550 attorneys.
We originally developed customized software solutions for the legal vertical market before writing packaged software solutions in 1984. The packaged software was originally developed and marketed exclusively for the Wang VS minicomputer.
The company successfully navigated a challenging transition period in which it operated exclusively as a Wang platform vendor and became an open systems software provider. Even though, PSI was achieving excellent sales results during its FY 1989 to FY 1991 period while Wang still enjoyed some pre-eminence among law firms, PSI had been planning a transition to open systems which occurred during the early part of FY 1991. At that time, the software was offered on RISC-based UNIX operating systems such as SCO UNIX, IBM’s AIX, HP’s HP-UX, and SUN’s Solaris. During this period, we also began reselling HP and IBM hardware as well as other third party software solutions that complemented our open system strategy.
Despite the fact that competition on open systems was a bit stronger than we anticipated, PSI grew its UNIX installed base and maintained the loyalty of our existing Wang VS installed base during those years by: 1) offering a series of new enhancement releases on both the VS and UNIX platforms; and 2) preserving our clients’ investment in PSI software by providing a low risk, cost-effective migration path from the VS platform to a number of UNIX platforms. With those actions, we developed a sizable UNIX installed base with one hundred (100) percent of all new account business in the early nineties coming from software running on UNIX platforms.
Beginning in FY 1994, the company began offering a variety of relational database options and client/server solutions. Our accounting and practice management product suites, Legal Accounting System (LAS) and Legal Information Management (LIM), respectively, were engineered to work with both the Informix and Oracle databases. Professional Time Entry (PTE), our first client/server solution offered as part of the ProVantage product suite, was written to work with a variety of accounting solutions aside from LAS. Other offerings, ProView, BillsDirect, Insight EIS, PrimeSource, StatusPro, GLQuery, and ContactsPro were added to the ProVantage product suite in rapid succession as the company took advantage of newer development and object-oriented technologies that were more efficient in the production of software solutions than the Cobol development language we used initially to create LAS and LIM. Several of these original client-server products were engineered to work with Microsoft’s NT operating system and SQL Server relational database.
In the late nineties, PSI completely rewrote its character-based LAS and LIM products from the ground up as Windows-based, 32-bit and 64-bit client/server solutions that work exclusively over the Microsoft SQLServer database. These products would eventually form an entire product suite which today is called ProVantage. During the early 2000s, we also redeveloped the InsightEIS, PrimeSource, and StatusPro products into what has become our ProVantage Business Intelligence Suite. These data mining and reporting products were written in such a way that they also work with many of our competitor’s time & billing and accounting solutions. Our ProVantage Business Intelligence Suite supports clients running on Elite, Aderant, and ProLaw platforms.
During the first decade of the 21st century, the emphasis of our R&D effort was focused on developing integration bridges for many solutions and services that were most in demand by professional service businesses at that time and remain so even today. Today, we have electronic integration solutions for a firm’s banking relationship through Lockbox processing, Positive Pay, and bank statement import to support and automate the functions of payment application and bank and check reconciliation and provide audit control over checks authorized for processing by the firm. In addition, we provide GL and AP import programs to electronically load payroll entries into the general ledger and upload vendor invoices into the AP workflow as well as streamline other labor intensive processes. We provide a PCI accepted credit card payment interface solution to support credit card transactions. We also provide imaging capabilities throughout our solution suites for easy reference and retrieval when the need arises. Of course, we offer a variety of time entry approaches for the modern professional and billing solutions to support the many complex arrangements that clients seek from professional service firms. And we do all of this while leveraging the productivity advantages of the Microsoft Office Suite – tools familiar to all professionals.
More recently, our focus has been on integrating our software more fully with a variety of case management solutions, developing dashboard-type inquiry interfaces, and extending our partnerships with mobile timekeeping companies. In the case management arena, we partner with Synaptics (developer of LawBase), Legal Files Software (developer of Legal Files), and PRS, Inc. (developer of CaseMax). Integration is typically 2-way for client, matter, and contact fields and then many of the remaining links are designed to allow work to be performed in the case management programs but then to also trigger stored procedures that insert time and cost entries, insert AP vouchers, run bills and update case management budgets, etc. in ProVantage. Some links are designed to pop-up information within the case management program that comes directly from ProVantage such as Bill History and financial information contained with our Client Portfolio program.
Today, we support dashboard solutions for executive committee members and management, working timekeepers, and various other timekeeper types such as originating, billing, and responsible. These solutions help each member of the firm understand how their performance stacks up against key measures important to the firm or in some cases how the firm’s operating metrics stack up against performance targets developed in the business plan.
We also have partnerships in place with companies that operate mobile timekeeping platforms and have developed critical management control features important to the time entry process of a professional services firm. For example, our Smart D Time Entry provides integrated time entry to ProVantage through mobile platforms, with automatic synchronization to the PV database using the iTimeKeep solution from Bellefield Communications LLC. Our Smart T Bridge provides integrated time entry and management control features to ProVantage through mobile platforms, with automatic synchronization to the PV database using Smart Time from SmartTime Apps LLC
Over the life of the company, the company has adhered to the principle of establishing long-term relationships with its clients and ensuring that they continue to receive value for their investments in PSI solutions. As part of the continuing value we offer to our client base, we continually upgrade our software. For example, the ProVantage Suite of Solutions has been enhanced 18 times since its introduction in 1998. In addition, we value responsiveness over process. When our customers call in for support, they do not receive a tracking number. They get their call answered. And, in more than 95 percent of those cases, the caller gets a solution to the problem or question that they called in for on that first phone call.
The company’s gross revenue is measured in a multiple of millions for its latest complete fiscal year (FY 2014). The company’ revenue grew nearly 140 percent from FY 2010 to FY 2014 and we are on track to exceed a 12% increase in revenue from FY 2014 when we close our current FY 2015. During the last five years, the company and all of its divisions (including FOA) have grown from a staff of twelve (12) people to thirty-five (35) people in the current year.
Today, we are helping a number of our installed customers navigate a challenging business climate with innovative solutions and top-notch support as well as providing cost-effective accounting and practice management solutions to new customers. PSI’s customers have a high satisfaction level with both PSI software and the support services provided. We know this because of our customer retention and the positive interactions that we have with our customers when they call in for support or call in looking for ways to automate workflow processes and improve productivity.