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Uncover the Strategic Benefits of a System Conversion or Upgrade

The time has come for many law firms to decide which practice management software will serve the firm's needs best in the future. Should you continue to use the same platform or switch to a new system? These are not light considerations. System upgrades and conversions can be time-consuming and fraught with potential complications as well as capital output. But there are ways to minimize the pain and maximize the rewards of a conversion.

Whether your firm is considering staying with your existing platform or making a change, now is the time to think of a system upgrade as an opportunity for improvement. What are some of the variables to consider? Here is a diagram that outlines an ideal conversion/upgrade process:

Fig 1

Map a System Migration Strategy

Planning for a system conversion saves you time and money in the long run. Let’s take a closer look at each phase of the ideal conversion/upgrade process.

Strategy and Self-diagnosis

In an attempt to minimize disruption, some firms are tempted to seek software that maintains the status quo and allows the firm to work as it always has. The strategy and self-diagnosis phase helps change this mindset. It helps reduce expenditures related to customizations, one-offs, extended work, or back-end support. Almost every firm asks “what are we doing now” questions, but few dig deep enough to truly evaluate the firm’s processes and identify opportunities for improvement. This phase asks critical questions needed to accurately identify a software solution.

System Selection

Every facet of a firm’s operations—from a business perspective or a practice perspective—is impacted by changes to the firm’s practice management system. That’s why it’s essential to choose software that helps ensure process efficiency and data integrity and accuracy. With the amount of churn in the legal technology industry, firms need to be especially vigilant when scoping and negotiating new software.

The system selection phase helps you evaluate software vendors, especially related to capabilities, costs, and support, as well as how the software will impact other solutions within your IT landscape. It allows you to create a budget and set realistic roadmaps and negotiate your contract to mitigate surprises and ensure alignment of the project with your long-term needs.

Blueprint Preparation

Following system selection, the next step is to develop a blueprint. During this phase, the project objectives and scope are defined. You can review the vendor’s services budget to help ensure it matches your objectives as well as inventory potential customizations such as reporting, integrations, and workflows.

During this phase, the implementation team structure and time commitments are defined. Skills gaps are identified and change management plans are scoped out. A data conversion strategy also should be established in this phase to help ensure accuracy and streamline the migration.


The value of the three preceding phases is evident during project implementation. Working with an experienced implementation helps streamline the process and shorten your time to value. Professional project managers help to keep activity moving along according to the scope and plan. Data specialists streamline extract, transform, and load processes. Technical experts address all of the technology and security implications of integrating new software in your environment and manage any platform issues, in-bound and out-bound documentation, and security concerns. During this phase, you also can fine-tune any reports your firm needs to help you realize immediate value from your implementation.

Stop Panicking and Start Planning

The idea of transitioning to a new software environment has struck fear and dread in the hearts and minds of many law firm operators. The fear and dread, although natural, must stop and be replaced by common sense and proactive thinking.

These next few years are an opportunity to use the migration of technology as a tool to improve operations. Take the time for self-diagnosis and preparation. Not only will you be in a better place after the migration, but you will most likely have saved a ton of money and set yourself on a path for future success.

Wilson Legal Solutions

Wilson Legal helps law firms maximize the benefits of technology to reach new levels of operational efficiency and profitability. The company offers deep technical expertise, hands-on software experience, and best-practice insight to help firms leverage their investment in Elite practice management and business intelligence software. Click here for more information.

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