Law firms of all sizes are upgrading to cloud-based document management systems (DMS) to simplify work processes, increase efficiency and cut costs. In my last article, I discussed how to select the best DMS for your firm. Once you’ve determined which cloud-based DMS you’d like to use, it is time to migrate your data. What will the process look like? How long will it take us to make the transition to the new platform? Will we be able to move our documents from our existing solution to the new platform? If yes, how? I often get asked about this process, how long it will take and what staff will undergo during the transition.
Implementation is divided into 5 phases. Here is what your law firm can expect from each phase and tips on how to ensure the process runs smoothly:
The decisions made in this phase of the implementation will often determine the project’s timeline and overall success. You should expect your implementation to take 4 – 6 months from initiation to launch. There are several variables at play during this time. During the project initiation, team selection becomes the first critical element of the project. You will need a small leadership team to make decisions on behalf of the firm and stay plugged-in with your project manager during the life of the project. A larger group of stakeholders will need to be involved during design and user acceptance testing (UAT). Garnering commitment from every team member involved to make decisions and complete tasks quickly will allow for faster implementation.
Some criteria to consider as you identify your team include whether they are heavy users of your current document management solution and whether they are seen as leaders in their practice groups. They don’t necessarily have to be leaders by title. You want teammates that have the respect of their team so that others get on board quickly.
2. Discovery and Design
Now that you have your team in place, it’s time to review your current document management situation and design the new document management environment that will best serve your firm. We often see firms that have documents saved across multiple environments, especially when their document management solution doesn’t fit the firm’s needs. The complexity of document location impacts implementation timeliness. Moving from just one DMS to another is much easier than pulling data from network drives or SharePoint sites where the structure of the data is not uniform and the migration process is highly influenced by technical restrictions as our tool works to migrate the documents to your new DMS.
During the discovery and design phase, migration tool selection will be determined based on the understanding of the current environment and the effort that will be required to migrate the data. Some migration tools have the ability to move documents into your new DMS and store them in separate folders based on client, matter or other selection of your choice. This allows for easier and faster adoption to the news system.
The final part of this phase is to design the workspace or cabinet for your new DMS. In your new DMS, you will have the ability to arrange workspaces in a base set of folders that will be prepopulated for you to choose from when saving your documents. Typically, these workspaces are designed to fit the needs of each individual practice group. For instance, your litigation team may desire a base list of 10 standard folders to choose from as they save documents, but your tax and estate team may only need 8. The stakeholders identified at the beginning of the implementation will help make these designs for their practice groups and ensure that data is flowing to these folder structures as expected.
3. The Build
Next up is the build. Even though cloud-based systems occur without server infrastructure, the implementation still involves building an environment to prepare the space for documents to live. The environment is configured specifically for your firm and individually designed workspaces are created in your environment.
Depending on the migration tool used, build involvement and time may vary.
4. Data Migration and Testing
Following the build is the data migration and testing phase. The tool that has been selected is now used to read your existing environment(s) and then it migrates the data to the designated location in your new DMS. Once that data has migrated, the stakeholders are trained on the basics of the new DMS and asked to perform user acceptance testing to ensure that the workspaces were designed and created successfully. Testing also ensures that the tool is migrating the documents correctly. The stakeholders are asked to review their practice group’s documents to confirm this.
5. Production Launch
Once the other phases of the project have been completed, it’s time to get ready for the final stage: production launch. In most cases, the data migrated to this point is a small percentage of the overall base of the firm’s documents. The remaining data is moved at this point before production launch.
The entire firm will then go through a training session. At the training session, we recommend having a trainer onsite for a hands-on experience designed to help the user understand the new system more quickly.
Once all of these boxes are checked, you are ready to launch! You can expect to have onsite support for the first few days after the production launch so that your firm has quick access to a team of experts as they become familiar with the new tool and work through any issues that surface.
If your new DMS is designed, built and launched properly and your employees are sufficiently trained, your new DMS should serve your firm well into the future. Our LOGICFORCE team has years of experience implementing DMS solutions that serve the legal industry. To learn more about migrating to a new DMS, get in touch with one of our experts now by requesting a call.
Kevin Hill is a project manager at LOGICFORCE. He has 11 years of experience implementing SAAS based solutions and specializes in hardware and software migrations.