6 Golden Rules of Migrating Your Firm to the Cloud

The use of cloud technology (like Gmail, Dropbox and Evernote) is already inherent in the daily lives of legal professionals. As technology continues to improve legal business, your firm will need to address the issue of migrating legacy systems over to newer platforms in order to stay current.

Like all other implementation plans, a migration project requires more than just considering costs or looking for vendors. This short guide explains the key factors that your firm needs to consider when implementing a cloud migration plan to help ensure a smoother shift with minimal risks.

1. Evaluate what needs to move and what can stay

Migration to the cloud is all about prioritising, so firstly take the time to see what data really needs to be moved. Critical information that needs to be accessed all of the time should be prioritised, and can include client contact details, documents associated with billing and invoicing, legal schedules, and legal documents and forms.

Having a clear understanding of what goals your firm is trying to achieve with migration can also shape how it occurs. If the migration is applied to only a portion of the firm as a start, realistic timelines and clear metrics in place can help measure success and offer learnings for later on.

2. Choose the right cloud solutions provider

When choosing providers for your firm’s hosting or cloud software needs, avoid spreading the migration strategy across too many platforms or you risk complicating things even further. However, choosing the right software can make things a lot simpler.

For instance, a cloud-based practice that integrates essential functions – such as legal research, billing, and client and matter management – promotes employee mobility and can increase the productivity of the firm.

3. Ensure data security measures are in place

Legal data is extremely sensitive and data security is one of the largest concerns surrounding cloud adoption in business. It’s therefore important to choose software or providers that offer security features such as encrypted storage, sound backup policies or the ability to restrict access if needed.

4. Establish good governance over the migration project

In any migration project, good governance is critical for success. Ensure the relevant stakeholders are aware of the risks involved, and that all processes and protocols are clearly communicated.

A migration iteration runbook – or a set of predefined procedures – can help ensure everyone involved understands all activities pertaining to the project. And all processes should be documented in case things go awry.

5. Avoid disrupting everyday operations

Technological changes can risk disrupting your firm’s day-to-day operations. Consider the sensitivities and timeliness of implementation, and how it could impact the daily goings-on at your firm. Often, IT implementations take place after office hours or on weekends to avoid interference with client matters.

Consider whether the migration is best deployed in gradual, incremental stages to ensure there is minimal disruption, and also ensure that enough time is allocated for full implementation, including all required testing.

6. Implement firm-wide training sessions

All newly implemented technology and protocols require some settling-in time. Your firm can encourage swifter adoption by implementing a firm-wide training program, which should be offered to all of your staff members who are likely to use the technology at some point.

A training session can help familiarise your employees with any changes, and can also bring to light issues from a user’s perspective, which can then be promptly rectified.

Keep in mind that migration to new technology is meant to improve the business, whether by saving money or lowering risks. It should also be noted that migrating doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing move. Implementing one, whether to the cloud or otherwise, may present a few challenges, but can be a highly beneficial move for law firms.

Stacey Leeke is a litigation lawyer and freelance writer with a background in professional indemnity and insolvency law practice. She has over nine years experience in the legal industry in both Australia and Canada.

Stacey currently writes for a number of online and print based publications, specialising in analytical critiques on new developments in the law as well as commentaries on current industry trends and best practice.

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