Tips from Law Firm Leaders on Surviving the Challenges of DMS Migrations

Many organizations are taking the leap and implementing new, more sophisticated document management systems for improved document security, increased mobile functionality, enhanced collaboration solutions and more. Judi Flournoy, Chief Information Officer at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, Len Oliveri, Director of Information Systems at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, LLP, and Teresa Plunkett, Director of Information Technology at Brooks Pierce, have survived the challenges of a DMS migration. Here they share tips to Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast the challenges that lie ahead for those about to embark on their own DMS projects.  

Judi: Outwit
“Develop a solid strategy. Do not simply replace an existing incumbent DMS with the new DMS. Evaluate your current environment, eliminate underutilized document types, remove inactive matters and folders, and adopt a matter-centric design. Engage people in the design process to “focus” on their needs so that the design follows. Test and compare performance from all locations, all file sizes, and all file types of both the new and incumbent DMS. Be transparent in your communications and set expectations accordingly.”

Len: Outplay
“Involve people in the process. Meet with practice leaders ahead of time to assess their needs and gain insight on how best to organize their data. This facilitated buy in from each group and served as a successful introduction to matter centricity. Host luncheon meetings with pilot group members for the first few weeks after deployment to gain an understanding as to what they feel works well and where there is room for improvement. This is invaluable! Using their feedback, fine-tune and focus training to better meet training needs. Optimize floor support resources – I cannot stress enough the importance of having support in each our locations that first week. We even utilized walkie-talkies as a fun way to have real-time connections to fellow support team members to ensure questions could be shared and answered on the fly. Spend time preparing, hire the right consultants, and review existing data. We also found it helpful to have someone from the DMS provider involved in every project call to keep things on schedule and discuss what was and wasn’t working throughout the conversion.”

Teresa: Outlast                                      
“We started by doing several demos for our Management Committee and Technology Committee to show them the product and get their buy in. Having these groups on the same page helps with any pushback. Be transparent in your communications throughout the process to let lawyers and staff know what’s happening. They don’t need a lot of detail, just keep them in the loop. Involve the helpdesk in conversion meetings if possible. Listen to the conversion team for best practices, keeping in mind that just because you’ve always done it one way doesn’t mean you should continue to do so. Make sure versions of third-party software are correct for integrating with the new DMS and account for “link redirection software” and “footer software.” Develop a cleanup plan and enlist the help of staff to profile documents into the correct client/matters before migration. This will be helpful for files erroneously placed in the 999999 client number as well as for Public folders.”

Want more advice on how to survive a document management system migration? Read Eileen’s article “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast: Surviving the Challenges of DMS Migrations” that appeared in ALA’s July 2018 Legal Management Magazine.