The Cloud. Have you heard of it? Of course, you have. And if you’re reading this, then chances are, you’re already considering making the tech and business savvy decision to move your practice’s data to the cloud. Today, we’re discussing what you need to know (and do) to prepare your firm for a painless migration. What if you’re already using cloud-based software? That’s great! Your law firm is one step ahead of the game. But what happens if that software stops meeting your needs? You’ll also need to make a move.
Are You Ready To Make The Switch?
If you’re debating whether now is the right time to upgrade your practice management software, here are some things to consider. First, if you’re still using a legacy desktop program, it’s important to realize that you’re missing out on cloud benefits that your competitors are taking advantage of. Hardware and server requirements and ongoing maintenance cost you time and money, and likely, a good deal of aggravation. With the cloud, these sort of problems simply disappear, and you’re able to harness the power of modern functionality that, at the moment, your practice is lacking.
Or, maybe, you’ve made the switch to a web-based program, but haven’t taken the full leap just yet to a completely integrated solution. In this scenario, you’re still required to keep a separate, generic accounting program which lacks the standard compliance/operational accounting functions that a legal-specific solution provides. Here, the back and forth between programs not only becomes tedious, but it can also place your firm in a precarious position when it comes to compliance. Often, this setup can be even more burdensome than not using a cloud-based system at all.
How to Start Migrating Your Data
If you are ready to migrate, the first step to a seamless transition is taking a close look at your firm’s current needs and analyzing which of those are and are not being met. Since switching tools later on in the process can become complicated, now is the time to take stock. A short list of the main areas you’ll want to analyze includes:
- Modules needed
- Functionality variations/requirements
- Built-in vs. third party integrations
Next, it’s important to understand the full migration picture. Each firm is distinct, and every migration will be similarly unique. Here are the main points of difference to consider:
- Scope of data: Is your firm new? Well-established? How many years back does the data go?
- Data to be migrated: Similar to above, making a list is an easy way to keep track of what needs to get done. During most migrations, the data being moved to a new system includes:
- Financials, etc.
- Educate yourself on costs related to migration. Every company is different. Does the new software offer assistance and at what cost? Data migration is a lot of work and can be time-consuming depending on your data, expect a fee and as always, be sure to fully understand what will be included in your migration before signing any agreements.
- How will it be done? Some data may be moved by the service provider while other data must be migrated by an outside consultant. Whether in-house or outsourced, there are advantages and disadvantages to both, so be sure to weigh both options prior to moving forward with a migration.
The Final Steps of Migration
Similar to moving houses, migrating your practice to the cloud can feel like a big undertaking. And just like packing up boxes, the key is organization. Here are some other tips to keep in mind as you prepare:
- Maintain naming conventions: make sure your new tool(s) supports these and/or allows them to be imported
- Timing of financial migration: plan a timeline around cutoff dates/billing periods
- Balances versus historical information: full history is not always needed
- In-house verification is essential. When you migrate, make sure all the appropriate parties review their data and sign-off on it before anything is copied or removed.
Think it may be time for a change? If your current practice management system is outdated or hindering your firm’s productivity, implementing new software can be a real game-changer. Learn more by watching our in-depth webinar, Moving Your Practice to the Cloud: Best Practices for a Painless Migration.