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Now is the time to leap ahead with a step change


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Why risk a data conversion disaster?

Changing a law firm’s practice management system can occur every ten to fifteen years. Additionally, with organisation's merging or being acquired, data consolidation in the systems operating between the parties becomes necessary. The drivers for change in systems can vary. Progressive firms invest in such change more often to capitalise on the benefits associated with modernisation, intuitiveness, security and integration.

The change process typically begins with determining the scope, shortlisting system options available, and then evaluating the features most aligned with the law firm’s current and future requirements. Once the system has been selected, there are numerous phases to work through with the replacement of the existing system(s).


Key phases include:

  • Determining project resourcing requirements to secure the right expertise;

  • Developing a project charter supported by a project plan to guide the project team;

  • Creating a change management program and obtaining sponsor buy-in to ensure communication, adoption and satisfaction is achieved;

  • Determining the opportunities for business process transformation to modernise practices;

  • Designing the system including integration with other business systems to maximise its use;

  • Data cleansing, data mapping and developing the supporting data conversion (and testing) processes to validate the transition;

  • Ratifying business decisions made against objectives prior to execution of the change management program to ensure a clear vision;

  • Delivering the change management program and proceeding to live operation; and

  • Executing the support program to ensure stakeholder adoption and satisfaction.

While each phase is important, data mapping and executing the data conversion (and testing) processes can be a minefield. It is where the greatest risks will emerge if not planned, managed and executed well. 


Key risks include:

  • Poor system performance if the data is not de-duplicated and cleansed to be fit for purpose;

  • Processing errors at the time of live operation leading to loss of confidence in the system at the outset;

  • Data integrity issues identified in reporting leading to a lack of trust;

  • System imbalances when financial data has not been validated for quality assurance;

  • Difficulties in client billings when data is missing or not behaving correctly in the system;

  • Excessive effort spent on multiple test conversions leading to project delays and higher costs; and

  • On-going data legacies that require manual workarounds for the life-cycle of the new system.

To avoid such risks and costly complications, the engagement of trusted professionals is paramount. Such professionals come equipped with proven methodologies and tools, and possess the skills and experience necessary to overcome the complexities, which will indeed surface regardless of the system(s) involved.

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