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Systems ImplementationAn important part of managing your attorney malpractice exposures is getting the proper Legal Management Software.  The proper system software coupled with the procedures and standards being integrated into the software can go a long way in preventing a professional liability insurance claim.

You may think your work is done after selecting your new legal software system, the contract is signed and the check mailed for system.  You are happy about the decision and looking forward to getting all of the productivity and control improvements that you were promised with the new system.

Now is not the time to sit back and relax as the real work in making the new Legal System Software to work for your law firm has just begun.   Many horror stories from implementing new computer systems come from not being prepared.

The key to ensuring that your firm can experience all of the planned benefits that your new system promised is to insure that the implementation is properly executed.  The system implementation is full of decisions, challenges, successes and setbacks.  But with a well-planned implementation and improved workflows it will lead to cost savings and better controls throughout law firm.

Obtain the benefits from your new Legal Software with the following steps:

1.       Planning is the key to success.  Remember the old adage, “Ready, Fire, Aim”.  This is what happens to a new system if the implementation is not planned.

a.       Create an implementation team that includes the individuals with the skill sets needed.

b.      Create a timeline showing the start date and the live date with details as to the different tasks needed to get your system live.

c.       Research the hardware and software system requirements.  Your vender should provide your law firm with the standards needed for hardware, supporting software and internet connectivity requirements.

2.       Determine whether to do a data conversion.  Poor data conversions are the number one reason for failures of system implementation.  It is important to understand whether the conversation will convert data accurately enough to minimize staff cleanup time.  As a last resort the best alternative may be to start from scratch and enter the information manually.  But remember in some cases having an old and new system running at the same time is worse than no system at all.

3.       Spend the time to define the system user definitions (Key Words and System Structure).  The more robust the system, the more user definitions required.  Use the knowledge of the vendor staff or your outside consultant to help with these decisions.  Senior staff should be involved with at least approving the user definitions as this normally is the foundation of any good system/procedure. Some of the areas that may need to be defined are; organization, accounting, security, user defined information/tables, system management activities, local and remote access standards, records management and word merge documents.

4.       Training should not be skimped on.  The key to having a well running office is to have everyone trained on the system based on their tasks and responsibilities.  Supervising attorneys and partners will need different system training than the receptionist.  So it is important to have the training programs tailored to the individual’s functions and responsibilities within the law firm.

5.       Your law firm’s practices and standards should not change because of a new legal system.  The system needs to be adopted in such a way as for the firm to continue to maintain and reinforce the same standards and practices that it had prior to having the new legal system.  Your state or local bar can help with standards.  But it is the responsibility of the law firm to define, implement and audit those practices.  Workflows need to be reviewed and updated based on the new systems definitions and software.

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