With the ongoing changes in the legal technology industry, many law firms are taking a hard look at the software they’re using to surface information that supports strategic decisions. Many have concluded that it’s time to upgrade or implement something new. How can you overcome many of the typical obstacles firms face when rolling out new software and improve the outcomes of a new system implementation? In previous blog posts, we offer suggestions to ease the transition to new practice management software. To improve a business intelligence (BI) software roll out, we suggest concentrating on these four key areas of focus:

1. Consolidate and refine reports and analyses

With many types of technology initiatives, there is a strong temptation to try to recreate existing practices. With a BI software implementation, upgrade, or conversion, many firms look to recreate old reports and analyses with the new software. This may be the right approach for a small minority of firms, especially those that have achieved success and adoption of information and data distribution. However, the majority of firms are better served by finding ways to consolidate or refine reporting and analytics.

By performing a solid overview of your current procedures, you’re likely to find many areas for improvement. For example, you could cut back rather than recreate a massive library of reports, standardize instead of maintaining customization’s, and you could identify ways to streamline reporting. Ultimately, consolidating and refining allow you to focus on what’s important – and that’s more granular analytics and data consumption.

2. Identify goals and phase the rollout accordingly

At all points during a BI software implementation, it’s important to be mindful of the firm’s goals. Any software upgrade should be viewed as a solution that helps address the firm’s challenges. Therefore, to get greater value from your BI software it’s important to prioritize the firm’s goals and identify what needs to be accomplished.

Determine your primary, secondary, and tertiary goals and create a phased rollout that maps to those goals. This staged approach can lead to a more successful implementation and makes training easier and more effective. It allows you to ensure widespread understanding and adoption and help you identify bad habits that can be corrected before they become deeply ingrained.

3. Get input from all levels of the firm

When determining which reports to create and what analytics to build with the new software, leaders of the firm and the most vocal partners tend to heavily influence those decisions. But the opinions of everyday users of BI, such as timekeepers and consumers of information, are just as important. I have seen firms have great success using focus groups to help decide the approach to reporting and analytics. Getting input from all levels of the firms at the outset typically leads to a higher acceptance rate and reduces implementation timeline. It also helps to ensure that the software satisfies a majority of needs in the firm as opposed to a top-down approach.

4. Prepare documentation and share knowledge

When implementing new BI software, it’s essential that all firm personnel who are to be involved with the project know how the current system works. For example, this means knowing what is driving all calculations that are used in reports. When everyone operates from a position of knowledge, the transition goes much more smoothly. Confusion or a lack of understanding around current processes leads to longer time to value. Having documentation of your source system is key. Furthermore, having a list of all customization’s to your source system can help prevent items from being overlooked.

Ultimately the undertaking of a BI overhaul is not an overnight procedure. Making sure your firm is aligned properly to undertake this effort alleviates many of the typical barriers and helps to ensure success through the new system implementation.