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Total Networks hosts roundtable discussions several times a year with valley law firms to discuss a variety of technology topics selected by the group. Typical discussion topics have included remote workers, security concerns, document management, file sharing options, cloud storage, mobile device policies and practice management solutions.

Our March event included a panel that shared their experience with selecting and migrating to a new practice management or financial management solution. Firm management and ownership was represented in the panel, who had experience with migrations involving Omega, PerfectLaw, ProLaw, Juris and Abacus:

  • Jonathan Frutkin, Esq. – Principal, The Frutkin Law Firm
  • Holly Einspahr –  Director of Operations, The Frutkin Law Firm
  • Kevin Newell – Chief Operating Officer, Tiffany & Bosco
  • Sandra Haislett – Firm Administrator, Warner Angle Hallam Jackson & Formanek

The discussion included these lessons learned and tips for selecting and migration to new practice or financial management software:

  1. Training is Paramount – All panelists agreed that good training is important for a successful migration. If possible, negotiate with your vendor to have the majority of your training after “go live,” so you are learning on real-world data and not in a test environment. Budget more dollars for training than you think you need. Live training, although more expensive than virtual, is the most valuable component of an implementation. One panelist keeps a list of tips and tricks she learns as she goes, and demonstrates those tips with her staff at bi-monthly lunches.
  2. Make a List of Simple Assumptions – You may be so accustomed to certain features of your current software, that you assume they are included in all software packages. This may not be the case. As you perform your daily activities, make a note of features you require. It’s most important to select a software solution that accommodates your daily activities, rather than focusing on reporting.
  3. Thoroughly Analyze Current Processes – Take the time to fully understand your current procedures, and think through how they will be performed (and perhaps changed) on the new software you are considering.
  4. Return on Investment – Consider time savings that should be realized on the new software you select. For example, if bills are created and sent out more efficiently, that can result in decreasing days outstanding for Accounts Receivable. A 3% improvement in collections for $5 Million in annual revenue would result in an additional $150K to the bottom line. Every day saved in the billing cycle can have significant results. Another suggestion to save is to negotiate the terms on the maintenance agreement.
  5. When & What to Migrate – Consider migrating at the end of a billing cycle or fiscal year-end.  Close the books and go dark for a few days during the migration. Time entries can be tracked in a spreadsheet during this short time. Consider what projects need to be migrated, and which can be accessed if needed from archives. Minimizing the volume of data to import may save money.
  6. Understand the Terms – Fully understand the project plan before signing. This will help avoid being caught off-guard with unexpected change orders or calendar delays. Consider the hours and time zone of support offered by the software for implementation, training and consultation. Is your resource someone with appropriate experience?