By Legal Futures’ Associates Insight Legal
In our previous three blogs in this series, we have talked about the process of moving legal software systems, including:
- The link between proper planning and preparation and a successful system transfer
- The characteristics of a reputable system supplier
- How to move your data safely, securely and successfully from one supplier to another.
This article provides you with a helpful checklist so that you can pull all the strands together, so your practice has a successful blueprint for changing software supplier.
- Ensure that leaving your existing supplier is the right decision
Have you checked to make sure that you are getting the most from what you have already got? It is in your interests to include your current supplier in your selection process – even if it is just to validate your decision to move on.
- Plan your exit
Understand clearly what is involved exiting the existing supplier, what notice you need to give and how you obtain/retain your data. You cannot risk being tied in to your existing supplier for another contract term just because you don’t give yourself enough time to leave.
- Create a project team
Identify those within your practice who are stakeholders, get staff on board and ensure that everything is coordinated. Set realistic project timescales and ensure that you have sufficient time and resource in addition to your usual day-to-day case work responsibilities. A rushed decision can often be a wrong decision.
- Agree the required (and desired) outcomes
Agree the key deliverables needed from a new system with your project team, and create an assessment template to objectively compare the offerings from different suppliers. Don’t assume that all systems are the same, and do make sure that the demonstrations cover everything that your firm needs to see, not just what a sales person wants to show you.
- Don’t fall for ‘style over substance’
Make sure that your ‘wish list’ is realistic to your budget and make sure that all departments’ requirements are taken in to account. It is no good to choose a system based on fancy features for your fee earners if your accounts department can’t remain compliant! This is an important decision for your whole firm.
- Take up references
Ask suppliers for references and case studies from their existing customers whose profile and legacy system matches your own.
Make sure the project team has all the answers it needs to be comfortable with the process, and the expectations of migrating from the old system to the new one. Then, share your plan with the whole firm. Explain the benefits of the new system, manage any doubts or worries and explain the onboarding process. Your new supplier can, and should, help you with this.
- Utilise all available help and support
Understand the different levels of support that will be provided so that you can reassure staff in the firm that there will be help, both in the early stages, and beyond.
- Don’t be afraid to ask
Are you looking for features that haven’t been mentioned? Are you certain of what your data migration will include? Are you unclear on pricing, on possible hidden costs or on timescales? Make sure the project team has all the information needed to make the best choice, and never be afraid to go back to a supplier and ask as many questions as needed.
- Remember you’re choosing a supplier, not just a piece of software
Whoever you choose, the relationship should feel like a partnership. To work well, both sides need to invest time and energy, so it’s imperative you choose a firm you trust and are happy working with. Good luck (although with the guidance we’ve shared, very little will be left to chance!)
Next time: Part 5 – The Final Word. Brian Welsh, Chairman at Insight Legal shares his personal insight about finding the best IT suppliers for your next generation software.