Your case management program is the central nervous system of your firm. Implemented well, it automates workflow, houses critical client and case data, keeps your team organized, and generates reports used to make key business decisions. As technology grows and develops and as the needs of your firm change, you may consider making the switch from your current program to another.
Considerations Before Converting
Before you jump to another program, be sure you’ve truly outgrown the program you have. Ask yourself these questions:
- Have you invested in training for your team?
- Is the system set up effectively and efficiently for your firm?
- Are you pulling critical reports?
- Do you have a team member who acts as the administrator for the program?
- Are you aware of all the features and functions available?
- Are you taking advantage of key integrations with other programs used at the firm?
- Have you held your team accountable for using the software as intended?
Be sure to approach the project with eyes wide open and acknowledge that a new program may or may not be the right solution for your needs. Sometimes, the fix is as simple as committing to make the program you already have work more effectively and efficiently for your law firm.
Selecting a New System
If you’ve decided that moving to another program is the right choice for you, step one is doing your due diligence in selecting a new program. There are excellent choices in the market, and each system has its bells and whistles. Determine what features and functions are critical for your firm. Involve your team in this step! Your boots on the ground workers who navigate the program daily and intimately know the workflow are a valuable resource. Consider setting up a team of key team members to vet and select a program. Involve team members from multiple departments who will have varying needs and wishlist items.
The vetting process should involve demos from multiple vendors. Your key team should develop a list of questions for each demo so a proper comparison can be made. Be sure to ask what the price per month includes and clarify additional charges for things like integrations, conversion work, build out, and reports. Ask for a timeline, as it can vary depending on the complexity of your data, the program from which you are converting, the volume of conversions on deck, and other factors. Whatever that timeline is, add 3 months or more to it!
The Conversion Process
There is a reason this is called a “process” and not an “event.” You’ve likely amassed enormous amounts of data, and depending on your firm’s processes and procedures, that data may not be “clean.” You may have duplicate providers or clients in your system. You may be housing data in fields not intended for that kind of data (putting dates in a name field for example.) You may have developed workarounds that make the data confusing. When converting to a new system, you’ll see these data issues become painfully obvious.
You’ll work with your new case management software provider to map your old data into the new system. This step is critical and involves input and involvement from your team. You’ll need to identify your workflow, consider your current data, and make critical decisions on how to build out your new system. Again, involve your team in this step. This helps you to not only build the right system for you but to gain buy-in from team members throughout the process. As with any change initiative, you may encounter skepticism, fear, and frustration from your team. Acknowledge those feelings and help them to see the ultimate vision: a system that will help the firm better serve its clients by allowing your team to work with intention, feel empowered, and be efficient and effective.
Done well, a conversion process involves a few “passes” or reviews of the converted data in the new system. These passes are non-live mini-conversions that help ensure the data is mapping over correctly. It’s critical that your team be involved in checking the data during those passes, as you’ll likely need to sign off on it. A good case management provider will allow as many passes as necessary to ensure your data lands in the right spot and your program functions as intended.
Bear with the process, and know that your “go live” date will come. You can prepare for that date by communicating often with your team, ensuring you’ve invested in training for all team members (both users and administrators), and championing the change in your firm. Set the expectation early that case management software usage is non-negotiable. A good rule to introduce to your team is: if it’s not in the program, it didn’t happen.
No conversion is 100% perfect. You’ll encounter bumps in the road, data that does not match up as cleanly as you’d like, resistant team members, integrations that require back and forth support, and fatigue from the process. It’s all normal, and you will come out of that dip and realize the fruits of your efforts!
Vista has helped countless firms navigate this arduous process. We can help you identify needs, think through decisions on workflow, and work with your team as you implement a system. Find out what Vista can do for you.