Are you in the Legal IT sunset club?
After Thomson Reuters announced the sunsetting of firstly Envision and then Elite, a significant proportion of the top 200 law firms in the UK were faced with the unenviable task of procuring another Practice Management System (PMS).
As the rays of Envision turn crimson as we near its sunset date in 2021, many firms have completed their search and selection. You’ve seen all the systems, short-listed your favourites, done the Mexican stand-off with pricing and have now selected your new partner. You’ll be feeling pretty smug that you’ll be implementing well before the eventual demise of the product and ready for a change. However, don’t pop the cork just yet…
One of the areas that is all to easy to skip over in detail in the proposal and project plan is the migration of your PMS data. Stop and think how long that legacy system ran your law firm. How many Database Analysts and other IT staff had access to the data over the years and performed minor miracles at month end when some data needed fixing, fast. It’s likely that some of the data in your current database is fudged.
Over the years you might also have implemented several upgrades to your old PMS and your provider may also have changed the design layout, or schema of the database. It also stands to reason that some of the data in your database is dirty, because changes to the database structure can sometimes be harmful to old data that is transformed to meet new data standards.
During your new PMS project, you will need to scoop up all the data from your old system and move it into the new PMS database. This process is called a data migration and follows 4 key stages.
- Extract. This is where you pick out all the data you need to move over. You might want to read our previous article about GDPR at this point to make sure you’re only moving what is necessary for compliance purposes.
- Cleanse. Most data entry, done through the system user interface, has coding to make sure the data entered follow a structure. But any behind the scenes dabbling might have left fudged data and any old upgrades might have led to dirty data. At this stage you might be in for a nasty surprise when all those emergency workarounds come home to roost. All that fudged and dirty data needs cleansing!
- Transform. Your new PMS provider has their own database schema and they will provide you with the design of this in advance of your migration. Someone now needs to convert your old and dirty data to meet the standards of your new provider.
- Load. The spring cleansed data can now be popped into your new database, you can uncork the champagne and celebrate the successful go-live of your new PMS.
Sounds easy, but you might find that you’re moving terabytes of data from one system to another. You might be worried about the fudges and dirty data that lurk like icebergs in your old database, ready to sink your carefully prepared and managed project.
Be aware that many PMS vendors make it the client’s responsibility to extract and cleanse their old system’s data, and others might require you to perform the transformation too. In a busy IT department, already stretched to the limit by the migration, this could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. If it’s not the number one project risk, it should be!
Fortunately, we have a platform that can readily help you achieve your migration outcomes. You can load your data onto Infoboss and use our advanced visual discovery, classification and analysis tools to weed out the fudge and dirt, then optionally using our platform to apply the transformation required to load this data into your new system provider’s database. Our team have experienced PMS implementation managers and know a thing or two about these problems, so why not get in touch with us to see how we can help and make sure you enjoy your PMS sunset!