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Steps for Successful Implementation to Improve Project Management
By Matt Ryan, Legal Files Software Senior Consultant
The first step is realizing the need for matter management
Public sector legal departments are bustling with activity, but attorneys and office staff are often faced with limited resources to meet a growing and wide variety of different needs and priorities. In an effort to save money, such legal departments at every level of government seek different organizational tools and techniques. Some departments ask IT to build a customized matter and project management solution to help them meet their goals. Others purchase generic commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software or piece together a system that is comprised of Word documents, Excel spreadsheet, email and paper notes and files.
All of these matter management systems have flaws. Custom-built software solutions often end up being more costly and taking more time to develop than initially predicted, causing a public sector legal department to wait for months or even years for a costly system that may not meet their needs. Most COTS software is affordable, but too basic, making it impossible for government legal departments to mold the system to their specific needs. As for piecemeal organizational systems, they are affordable, but they lack actual organization and efficiency.
What does this leave for a public sector legal department? As it turns out, Legal Files Software is a solution that combines the cost-savings of COTS software with the flexibility of a custom-built legal matter management solution.
A successful implementation to get up and running
Employees of a government legal department use public funds to purchase matter management software, which makes it especially important for the system to increase organization and efficiency in the department. To ensure success with a new matter management system, a successful implementation is just as important as the quality of the software. Our team understands this better than anyone else. We’ve been helping public sector and government legal departments successfully implement and use matter management software for decades.
The Legal Files Software team realizes that multiple steps are involved in a successful matter management software implementation, which may include data conversion. Selecting the right system is much like selecting a new office. Legal departments must find the right system for their needs and then decide where their essential files and client-related information will fit.
All of the data that the legal department currently has in an antiquated system or in various locations will need to live in the new software system. It might seem overwhelming to think of transferring all matter related calendars, contacts, data, documents, deadlines, emails, research and tasks from one location to another, but Legal Files Software can handle all of the heavy-lifting, much in the same way a skilled moving company would. Because such a move is so massive, we don’t start without a detailed plan and an experienced team who can guide clients through the process to overcome any potential bumps in the road.
We recently rolled out Legal Files Software for the Arkansas Attorney General. Our team took the time to get to know the team members who would be using the software and we mapped their roles in the process. We do this for every client, regardless of whether they have 10 or 10,000 people in the organization. After mapping roles, we created a project plan for implementation, data mapping and testing, as well as a schedule to ensure that the process went as smoothly as possible. The goal for the Attorney General, as with all clients, was to keep the process on schedule and within budget, while achieving a successful implementation. Our planning and experience allowed us to meet this goal with ease.
What about times when an implementation is challenging? Issues occur when the original, or legacy, data isn’t compatible with the new matter and document management system. Maybe there is inconsistent use of a data field in the previous system, or the legacy data is coming from multiple disorganized sources. Our team can handle such situations in a variety of ways based on the client’s wishes and needs. If a client indicates that a data field is not important, we may not want to convert it. However, if the information is necessary, our experienced team members know how to provide the custom programming necessary to accommodate it.
Experience matters in a successful implementation
If a public sector legal department wants to keep its implementation and data conversion on schedule and within budget, it’s important to partner with team experienced with all types and kinds of conversions. Legal Files Software employs it own staff of project managers, data conversion specialists, programmers, trainers and support team members to help an organization make the most of its legal matter management system–faster. A legal department isn’t just buying software, it’s buying the knowledge and assistance of an experienced team.
Not every company can offer a highly flexible matter management tool and a strong implementation team. Before selecting a new software system for a public sector legal department, employees need to consider each company’s reputation and experience to find the one that can meet their needs during implementation and on a daily, continuing basis. The best matter management system is of very little use without proper implementation and training, while the best implementation and training in the world cannot make up for a lackluster software system. Legal departments need to find a company that offers all elements to achieve maximum organization and productivity.
Our team isn’t here to change the practice of law, but to help attorneys and their staff simplify and streamline their workflow and operations using the best matter management system and services to help them meet their goals and do more with less. Proper implementation services and custom programming services for data conversion, if you need them, is just the beginning of how we accomplish this for our clients.