This user guide is a quick reference for the fundamental concepts and terminology used throughout Actionstep.
An Action is a generic word for what you might call a Matter, Case, Project, Job, etc.
Actions are the live instances of Action Types. For example, you may have defined an Action Type called Client Inquiry, and each time you receive a client inquiry you'll create a new Action (of that type), give it a name, and add in the associated Contacts and other information.
The set of active Actions represents all the work that is currently in progress within the business.
|Action Alias||An override for the generic term Action. You can change this to Matter/Project/Case/etc., which will be reflected throughout the system. Matter is the most common Action Alias and nearly all Actionstep systems are set up with this alias by default.|
|Action Alias Plural||How to refer to more than one Action, since some Action Alias choices cannot be turned into plurals by simply adding an 's' to the end of the Action Alias.|
|Action Data||The name of the page in the action details view that displays the Custom Data defined for that action type.|
|Action Participant (Party)||
When you link a Contact to an Action, that Contact becomes an Action Participant. It will be further classified by its Participant Type within the Action. The same Contact could be linked several times to the same Action if it is performing different Roles. For example, the same Contact could be the Client and the Defendant in an Action.
Several Contacts can also be linked to the same Action as the same Participant Type. For example: if a law firm is representing a husband and wife, both of their Contact records will be linked to the Action as the Client.
Action Participants are referred to as Parties in the system.
An Action can only be in one of the following statuses at any one time:
|Action Template||An Action with a status of Template which can be used to pre-populate new Actions with default Action Participants and Custom Data.|
|Action Type||Used to differentiate Actions by the process they follow. The ability for administrators to configure the workflow for the different Action Types gives Actionstep its ability to adapt to the specific needs of each organization.|
|Alert Bar||The bottom panel of the main pages within Actionstep that alert you to real-time events such as new email, overdue tasks, upcoming appointments, etc.|
|Application||A grouping of Actionstep features (e.g. Workflow, Accounting, Knowledge Base) to make it easier for users to navigate around and to grant/restrict access to certain parts of the system. Application can also be used generally to describe any computer program.|
|Audit Trail||The system keeps many Audit Trails but in the context of a matter, all changes to the matter are recorded as System File Notes.|
|Custom Data||See Data Collection.|
|Data Collection||A related set of Data Fields. "Single-row" data collections display as a form, whereas "multi-row" data collections display as a list.|
|Data Field||A custom data element that is specific to a particular MatterType. When creating a data field the administrator can specify attributes of the data field such as the type of data it can contain (text, date, number, etc).|
|File Note||A time-stamped indelible text entry linked to an action. "User" file notes are entered by users and "System" file notes are entered automatically by Actionstep whenever any changes are made to the matter (see Audit Trail).|
|Job||An example of an Action Alias.|
|Leaf Node||The last node in a path through a Step Tree. There can be several Leaf Nodes in a single Step Tree. The workflow will end when it gets to a Leaf Node.|
|Matter||An example of an Action Alias.|
|Matter Alias||An override for the generic term Matter. You can change this to Matter/Project/Case/etc., which will be reflected throughout the system.|
|Matter Data||The name of the page in the matter details view that displays the Custom Data defined for that matter type.|
|Matter Participant (Parties)||
When you link a Contact to a matter, that Contact becomes a Matter Participant. It will be further classified by its Participant Type within the matter. The same Contact could be linked several times to the same matter if it is performing different Roles. For example, the same Contact could be the Client and the Defendant in a matter.
Several Contacts can also be linked to the same matter as the same Participant Type. For example: if a law firm is representing a husband and wife, both of their Contact records will be linked to the matter as the Client.
Matter Participants are referred to as Parties in the system.
A matter can only be in one of the following statuses at any one time:
|Matter Template||A matter with a status of Template which can be used to pre-populate new matters with default Matter Participants and Custom Data.|
|Matter Type||Used to differentiate matters by the process they follow. The ability for administrators to configure the workflow for the different Matter Types gives Actionstep its ability to adapt to the specific needs of each organization.|
|Merge Field||A special phrase inside a Word document that instructs Actionstep to substitute that phrase with live data when the document is generated inside Actionstep. The merge field is normally shown between double square brackets inside the document e.g. [[LastName]] or you can use the Microsoft Word merge field tools <>.|
|Node||When a Step is placed in a Step Tree it is referred to as a Node. The same Step can be used on different Nodes.|
|Organization Key||Each organization that uses Actionstep is assigned an organization key (or, orgkey) which users need to enter when logging into Actionstep. Actionstep keeps a clear separation of the data between its clients and the organization key tells Actionstep where that data currently resides.|
|Participant Type (Role)||The Role a linked Contact (party) plays within the Matter.|
|Party||See Action Participant.|
|Primary Participant||The principal participant in the Matter (usually the Client). Can be something else depending on the Matter Type e.g. Defendant.
The Primary Participant details are shown in the summary section on the Matter details page, along with their photo from the Contact record (if available).
Each Matter should have the Primary Participant identified as soon as it is created since this affects any lookup lists throughout the system which have been configured to show the Primary Participant along with the rest of the information. This is because most users need to see the Primary Participant (usually the client's name) in order to properly identify the Matter.
A set of Data Fields used to track Matter Types that are related to sales activity. Examples include "expected sale amount", "expected sale date", and "probability". Used for sales pipeline reporting and sales force management.
You can change the terminology by setting the Sales Pipeline Alias in Accounting Admin.
An example of a Matter Alias.
See Participant Type.
The first Node in a Step Tree. There can only be one Root Node in a Step Tree.
A milestone (Node) in the workflow of a Matter Type. Steps can be pre-configured to automatically do things when a matter reaches that Step. For example, it can assign Tasks, send emails, load document templates, etc.
The Steps enforce compliance by preventing users from moving to the next step until the required conditions are met.
A map of linked Steps to create a workflow. Steps inside a Step Tree are referred to as Nodes.
A specific component within Actionstep with permissions attached to it.
Every login to Actionstep is associated with a System Role (e.g. Partner, Staff Member, Client). The System Role defines their Actionstep permissions and controls what they can see and do inside Actionstep.
User-defined attributes that can be associated with various items such as Tasks to group them for reporting purposes.
The fundamental unit of work within Actionstep. Anything that needs to be done by a user can be expressed as a Task along with a due date and reminders. When a Task is marked as Complete then the user can optionally record the actual and billable time it took to complete the task.
Completed Tasks can be linked to invoices for billing.
Contacts and Participants
|Base Participant Type||
Participants can be associated with one or more types (e.g. Client, Individual, or Newsletter Recipient). However only one of these types can be the Base Participant Type, from which the Participant derives its identity. For most Participants, the Base Participant Type is either Company or Individual, but the administrator can define custom Base Participant Types as needed.
|Contact||An example of a Participant Alias. Contact is the most common Participant Alias and nearly all Actionstep systems are set up with this alias by default. Contact and Participant are used interchangeably throughout the documentation.|
|Participant||Any entity that you wish to track. Most commonly used for Contacts, it can be of any type defined by the administrator (for example, Motor Vehicle, Trust, etc).|
|Participant Alias||An override for the generic term Participant (usually set to Contact).|
Used to group Participants and to associate additional attributes to Participants of each type. Participants can belong to one or more Participant Types.
|Participant Type Data||
An Action can only be in one of the following statuses at any Custom fields defined by the administrator to collect information that is specific to that Participant Type (for example, the Registration Number for a motor vehicle).
A setting inside Actionstep linking email addresses to user mailboxes. You can add and remove Actionstep mailboxes from the Alias as required. When an email comes into Actionstep addressed to the Alias Actionstep will place a copy of that message in each Actionstep mailbox that is currently linked to the Alias.
If a user wants to receive emails to their own mailbox inside Actionstep then the Administrator needs to set up an Alias for that user.
For groups, you could establish Aliases like Sales, Support, and Accounts.
|Actionstep Mailbox||A mailbox inside Actionstep that is linked to all contacts which have logins.|
A Server Mailbox that has been set to receive all mail not addressed to any of the other Server Mailboxes.
For example, let's say you currently have the following Server Mailboxes:
Mail addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org would go into their respective mailboxes, but mail addressed to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc., would go into firstname.lastname@example.org because it is set as the Catch-all Mailbox.
|DNS||Short for Domain Name System. It resolves human-readable Internet addresses (e.g. www.abc.com) into numeric IP addresses. It also contains settings for your domain that govern email routing and spam filtering.|
The Internet name your company uses for email and website.
For example, if your email address is email@example.com and your website is www.abc.com then your domain is abc.com.
Same as Server Mailbox.
A Cloud-based mail service offered by Google. You can host your own Domain on Gmail and manage the whole system through a browser.
Short for Internet Message Access Protocol, the successor to POP with a few more features.
The program running on the PC that manages your mail (e.g. Outlook). Cloud-based email systems like Gmail run the mail client inside a browser.
A computer running programs to handle the delivery and receipt of email messages. Sometimes the same computer (server) runs both programs; other times you will have one server running the delivery program and another running the receiving program.
A Microsoft product that handles mail, calendars, and contacts for a group of users - usually installed on a server in your office. Microsoft Exchange does not permit Catch-all Mailboxes. However, since Actionstep provides most of this functionality you may not need Exchange after moving to Actionstep.
Instruction in your domain setup that holds the Internet address of your Mail Server that receives emails for your domain.
When someone sends an email message to you, their mail program will look up your MX record to see where it should send the message to.
Short for Post-Office Protocol, one of the agreed-upon standards used by computer programs to download email from Mail Servers.
A mailbox on a Mail Server outside of Actionstep.
Short for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, an agreed-upon standard used by computer programs to send emails.
Short for Sender Policy Framework, an email validation system designed to prevent email spam by detecting email spoofing.
Another term for Catch-all Mailbox.
Time Recording and Billing
Used to classify and group Time Record entries. This is especially useful if the Time Record is not Action-related e.g. general office work.
|Actual Hours||The actual hours spent by a user on a Time Record.|
The billable hours spent by a user on a Time Record. Billable hours will always be linked to a Rate Sheet.
|Invoiced Hours||The number of hours on a completed Task that has been allocated to an invoice. This allows a user to part-bill a Task on one invoice and then bill the remainder on a subsequent invoice (e.g. if a fixed monthly billing agreement is in place).|
A named hourly rate, including cost and whether it includes tax. Default Rate Sheets are allocated to System Roles which in turn are allocated to logins for users. Various Rate Sheet overrides can be set by client, Action, and activity.
The fundamental component of a time-sheet. It is an unbroken interval of time spent by a user on a single activity. A Time Record may or may not be associated with a Task. More than one Time Record can be associated with a single Task.
Something that needs to be done by the user. Several Time Records may be allocated to a Task, for example, if a Task is done at intervals over several days.
A numbering sequence and format (map) that can be attached to sequential records, such as invoices and receipts.
For example, you can specify an auto-number sequence like 'INV-X-2012' where the "X" component will be incremented numerically on each use: INV-1-2012, INV-2-2012, INV-3-2012, etc.
|Bank Participant Type||A Participant Type that is associated with a Contact (Participant) record that can be linked to a bank account.|
|Customer Participant Type||
The Matter Participant that will be linked by default to any invoices/bills created within an Action.
|Disbursement||A record of expenditure without an associated supplier invoice. Useful for recording miscellaneous expenses against a matter such as photocopying, postage, etc. to ensure they are picked up in the next billing run for each Action.|
A pre-formatted Disbursement to save the user time entering the data and to ensure consistency of rates for standard Disbursement items such as photocopying, etc.
Actionstep can be used as a multi-divisional system. and all Division Accounts are a sub-set of the master chart of accounts to enforce consistency across the organization. The Division Accounts are used for all transaction posting.
|Doc Templates||The replacement technology for PDF Templates which uses DOCX and merge fields instead of allowing unlimited styling of invoices by users.|
|GST Alias||An override for the sales tax terminology for different countries. For example, set this to VAT in the UK.|
|Invoice Templates||See Doc Templates.|
|Line Item Module||A custom code module to handle special line item requirements on the invoice screen. For example: to calculate sales commissions and franchise fees based on the other line items.|
|Linked Account (Link)||
The account in the master chart of accounts that are linked to the System Account.
Note: In multi-currency systems, you will need a link for each currency.
See Division Accounts.
The Master Accounts are a super-set of all allowable accounts in the chart of accounts. Transactions are never posted to the Master Accounts.
|Module||See Line Item Module.|
|PDF Blocks (deprecated)||
Components of a PDF template used for creating printable quotes, invoices, etc.
Note: These are in the process of being deprecated in favor of the DOCX merge-field invoice layouts.
|PDF Templates (deprecated)||
A collection of PDF blocks making up a printable quote, invoice, etc.
Note: These are in the process of being deprecated in favor of the DOCX merge-field invoice layouts.
Same as a Sales Template but used for Purchases.
The generic term for payables, supplier invoices, etc. Things you spend money on.
A customizable base on which the various sale and purchase instruments are built.
It is unlikely that you will need to change these. However, if you do, please make sure to get some special training first .
The generic term for receivables, customer invoices, etc. Where your income comes from.
A pre-formatted quote, order, or invoice.
|Supplier Participant Type||
The Matter Participant that will be linked by default to any expenses created within an Action.
An account that has a special meaning to Actionstep, where some operations can be performed automatically. For example: posting the GST/VAT portion of an invoice.
Trust Accounting (Client Accounting (UK))
The funds held in trust in a Matter (Action) are held in trust for ALL the clients listed in said Matter. So, if in one Matter, you were acting for husband and wife (John and Mary Smith) but in another Matter, you were acting for Mary Smith alone, you could not transfer funds between those Matters (unless you had trust administration privileges).
This is an important feature of Actionstep. In other systems, you would have to create a dummy contact record such as "John and Mary Smith" to accomplish this, but you would lose the ability to find all the work you have done for John Smith both individually and jointly.
|Firms Interest in Trust||
A portion of the trust funds that are owned by the lawfirm - essentially a float so that they have funds available to loan where required (New Zealand only).
A transfer of funds from one matter to another.
Note: this does not affect the bank balance and thus will not show up in the bank reconciliation. It is therefore posted through the Trust Transfers Account.
|Paid by Firm||
Amounts paid out from a matter where there are insufficient trust funds in the matter. The liability is incurred by the firm and is taken from the available Trust Surplus.
|Trust Liability||The total of all funds held by the firm on behalf of its clients, and to which the firm has no claim by virtue of unpaid invoices.|
An official receipt that is issued to a depositor of trust funds. This receipt register is often audited by regulatory bodies.
The amount by which the total of all the trust bank balances exceeds the trust liability account balance.
|Trust Transfers Account||
A system account to record transfers of trust funds between matters which otherwise would not be posted to the general ledger. The debit and credit amount of the transaction will be equal and this account should always have a zero balance.
See Inter-Matter Transfer.
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