New Legal Software: Pre Switch Checklist

Tuesday 24 January, 2023

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If you’ve gone about it in the right way, your search for new software involved a lot of research, introspection, and consultation with your fee-earners and support staff. You’ve found the system that can make the biggest improvement for the greatest number, and you’re ready to begin the process of switching.

Here are the most important things to know, remember, and ensure before your switch takes place.

The team has ‘bought in’ 

One of the reasons behind most software changes is that the users weren’t happy with the existing platform. Assuming you’ve researched and chosen your new system in collaboration with them, it should address many or all their frustrations. Before you make any further steps, you need to be sure of that. If it turns out that the same (or new) problems exist, then the time and money you invested will have been for nothing.

Be sure that:

a) your team can express what’s different about the new software

b) they can describe how it will change their role and their habits

c) you communicate that the time to raise concerns is now

d) the team understand what is expected from them in how they use the new system

To further examine point ‘d’…

The team is prepared 

There will always be a ‘settling in’ period as people get to know a new system, but as far as possible you’ll want the team to hit the ground running. That means training them in the new software either before you’ve switched, or immediately afterwards.

Good software won’t be hard to navigate or difficult to use, but with anything new, there’s a learning curve. It’s useful to appoint a ‘champion’ for the platform, who knows all there is to know about it and can advise new users should they have any questions or concerns.

There’s also likely to be a period when the old system is offline, but the new one isn’t live yet. Perhaps during a data migration (more on those next). Done right, that period won’t be very long, but it’s valuable time. If you communicate when the software is going to be down, and remind people to have offline work lined up, you can avoid dropping precious hours of productivity.

Your data migration is ready

It’s understandable why data migration would seem daunting. Without your files and information, you can’t function, so moving it all from one place to another could make anyone nervous. However, done right, it’s completely safe and straightforward.

Your software provider should be able to walk you through the preparation and perform the migration for you, but the first step will be to locate it all and make sure you have control over it. You don’t want to discover that your existing provider is holding anything for ransom or that anything is missing.

Next, before the final switch happens, we’d strongly recommend staff training in the new system using your own data. Your new provider should be able to import your data so that your teams can use the system as they would when it’s live, so that when the final switch is complete, the team are already familiar with the system.

You know the value of the system

Of course, you know the system’s value in terms of what it can deliver and how it should improve the firm. That’s why you chose it. However, before the switch happens you need to have a concrete sense of what success looks like. Decide what should be different in three, six, 12, and 24 months, and how you’ll know.

Not everything is easy to measure. Some of the gains will be less tangible (like wellbeing and stress reduction) but you can choose a way to define and report on them. Other measures, like profitability, are easier. Using time recording as an example, having proper visibility on fee-earners’ activity will allow you to track profitability over a given period. The software you use provides that visibility, and the same function can indicate how much more productive work has become.

Looking for a switch?

If you’ve not chosen your new software yet, these resources could help you decide what you’re looking for. If you’re hoping to become more productive, efficient, or compliant, those free guides and articles could help you understand what kind of software you need and how to use it best.

If you’d like advice from one of our team, call 01252 518939 or email