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Whats in your Data Migration?

Over the last few years, the scope of data migrations undertaken when changing a practice management system have changed significantly.

Until recently, the generally accepted standard approach was to carry out a full historical, transactional data migration, bringing across pretty much all data that the firm had within its current system.

In addition, it was not unusual for a few random databases or spreadsheets to creep out of the woodwork mid project along with comments like “Well we do actually have this legacy system that a firm we merged with a few years back was using, we keep a couple of licences going for enquiry purposes, so it would be good to import that if we can…….?”

Dutifully, practice management suppliers would roll up their sleeves and wrestle with ancient data and the messy aftermath of years of poor data entry, historical migrations, non-balancing financials, and levels of data duplication that would send a GDPR officer into a virtual tailspin.

The truth is, that whatever a practice management supplier charged for the data migration, in practice, this was always a significant loss leader, a means to an end in securing a new customer and the associated long term licence revenue to off-set that work.

It’s worth noting that a full transactional data migration for a mid-market UK law firm would take an estimated 50+ man days to complete, with a proportion of these days delivered over weekends at increased cost to the supplier.

Now, as a new wave of suppliers have come into the market, they have identified the folly of undertaking such a mountain of “risk laden” work and have looked at more standardised data migration approaches that limit project scope, and therefore cost, which is obviously a key factor when trying to be competitive.

This change has led to approaches such as “balances brought forward only” or “current financial transactions and last 3 years balances” to name a couple. This is not without its challenges, it will certainly make the project go more quickly and smoothly, but it may also result in the absence of historical reporting data that the firm previously relied on and swathes of lost data that could be used proactively by the business.

I would suggest that it should never be the role of a practice management vendor to wrestle with a law firms’ historical data. Practice management solutions are generally good at ingesting data once it is in the right format, but it should be the responsibility of the law firm to take the initiative in presenting that data if seeking anything more than a basic “standard” migration.

In the modern world “data is king” and in the run up to a data migration, it is the right time to bring in a specialist business to extract and cleanse the firm’s data prior to the data migration exercise.

There are some very good and experienced providers out there that can help with this exercise and you can find them here:

Hindsight Legal Consulting are available to provide, advice, guidance and signposting for all your legal technology needs:


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