Getting Started: Migrating to a New Practice Management Software

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Getting ready to migrate to a new practice management software? Exciting! It’s a big deal to make the shift to a more efficient, powerful, and effective platform. 

It’s also a big task. Take the time to plan out the steps you need to take to manage the project smoothly. Below are some tips to help you get started.

Set a timeline

Without a timeline, migrating and implementing new practice management software can feel endless. Start by backward planning: when do you want to be using your new software? How long will migration and implementation take? What internal approval and planning do you need to account for before migrating and implementing? 

As you’re developing your timeline, also include room for disruptions. Identify possible obstacles and build in time to manage them. Depending on your law firm’s resources, it may be advisable to outsource some work or bring on temporary help to keep your routine tasks on track.

Finally, set clear expectations for everyone involved. Transparency is the greatest good when it comes to executing complex projects. 

Get your data in order

What data do you need to bring with you?  Start by inventorying your data so you can identify what needs to be migrated. This should include:

  • Client data
  • All active case matter documents
  • Employee records
  • Vendor contacts
  • Events
  • Email lists
  • Financial data, including:
    • WIP, AR, and trust balances
    • Trial balances
    • Bank and credit card accounts
    • Reconciliation of first month
    • Ledgers

Reviewing this data should be a firm-wide project. Before any data is migrated, responsible parties need to review and approve the transfer. 

Work with your new software provider

Your new software vendor knows their software: what to expect during migration, what data can be migrated, and how to prepare your firm for the process. A reputable vendor should be ready to guide you through migration and implementation. Most importantly, their experience means they’ll likely pick up on nuanced pieces of information or details that you’d miss. 

Customize your course of action: 

Are you currently relying on paper?

  • Inventory your documents
  • Digitize, digitize, digitize
  • Create a long-term process for doing this and that it’s easy to replicate 
  • Consider outsourcing the digitization

Already on a practice management program?

  • Take a thorough inventory – when you know what you’re working with, you can make informed decisions.  
  • Decide what to:
    • Keep
      • Current active files
      • Recently concluded matters as per document retention policies
      • Any necessary historical documentation
    • Archive: Use statutory requirements as guidelines
    • Dispose: Anything beyond the first two categories

Provide training

Your entire staff should be fully trained on how to use the software. Customize training sessions for each department – not all staff need the same information. 

Remember that learning new software is an ongoing process. It takes time to become familiar with the system. (And even experienced users need refreshers as new updates come down the road.)

Bringing on a new practice management software is exciting. While the lead up to migration and implementation can be intimidating, by taking a structured approach to the project and working closely with your software provider, you’ll see meaningful results soon. 

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