By Debbie Mills, Senior Director, Financial Data Governance, Wilson Allen

Over the past several years, almost every law firm has faced the need to either upgrade or migrate its practice management system. The time has come for firms running Elite Enterprise to finalize that decision and begin the process of implementing the new software. What can your firm do to prepare or improve your processes if you’ve already started your migration?

While many project teams focus heavily on the implementation of the new software, there are four essential areas of review to help prepare your Enterprise environment for a migration.

1) Technical

  • Access Requirements: One of the first things to set up is your access requirements. Be sure your migration team has backup access methods available in case primary methods fail, especially on the final migration. All resources should have access to the servers and databases they need to complete their work. This will include both Enterprise access as well as access to the new platform.
  • Space Requirements: This may seem obvious, but double check that you have the required amount of space on your migration server as well as on your Enterprise system. The Enterprise database used in the migration will need to be available for user-acceptance testing (UAT) reconciliation, which may span many months.

You’ll want to check that an inquiry snapshot program was run on the Enterprise database used for reconciliation of the migration to help reduce potential reconciliation issues during UAT validation.

Be sure to optimize your indexes so your queries run more quickly. You do this by running the “update statistics” task on the Enterprise database used for the migration.

By setting the logging to “simple” on all databases, this will help conserve space. Once the migration is completed you may want to set logging back to “full”.

Also, be sure to have a backup plan on your migration. You certainly do not want to have a backup running during critical updates. It is recommended to check with the migration team to schedule when backups should be completed and on which database.

2) Application

  • WAS-IS Lists – Your firm will likely have people who put together lists of how data was coded in Enterprise, and people responsible for how it is coded in the new environment. Bringing those two factors together results in was-is lists.

Once the initial was-is lists are created they will likely need to be updated regularly until the final migration. A process will need to be put in place to identify all was-is lists and track all updates to any data on a was-is list. You may also need to add additional was-is lists throughout the life of the migration.

  • New Set-Ups – When a new “anything” is entered in Enterprise it is likely it will need to be added to the migration mapping / setup and a was-is list. Be sure to note all new setups added in Enterprise and the migration set-ups database as these will need to be discussed in the data mapping review sessions held before all migrations.
  • User-Defined Field (UDF) Review / Validation – All UDFs need to be reviewed prior to a migration for invalid data, so you’ll want to put a process in place to ensure this is completed. If new items are being added to validation lists be sure to update them in the migration environment (i.e., 3E Master and Aderant UDF workbook).
  • Address Review – All addresses, including clients, matters, vendors, and payees need to be reviewed prior to a migration to be sure no invalid data has been entered. Be sure standard processes are in place for addresses, for example, two-character state / province codes and two-character country codes.

3) Integrity

There are tools built into Enterprise that can help with integrity of the data in your detail tables and your ledger tables. For example:

  • Be sure to make use of the “date checker” program and that its outputs have no issues. Effective dated tables in 3E and Aderant must be perfect so the associated Enterprise tables must have no issues.
  • Be sure your “billing system history” tables are updated. Many reports used in the reconciliation of the migration are from the history tables. It is recommended to rebuild history tables for “current + 3 years” for your migration. There is a caution – if you have third-party applications that prevent you from rebuilding history it is recommended that this action only be performed on “the copy” of the database that is used for the migration and the validation of the migration.
  • Be sure to run “FMS data integrity” from inception to maximum financial transaction / currency date and that no issues are reported. Many migrations have an FMS cut-off date but it is critical that beginning balances are in balance and correct. There is caution in running FMS data integrity from inception – there may be a need to exclude “conversion / dummy account” data. Always run in “scan” mode and review first before performing any updates.
  • It is recommended that a “LDR” (legacy data review) has been completed and your baseline score is 1.2 or below. Note: Wilson Allen can certainly help with Enterprise data integrity issues. We have a perfect track record of fixing all Enterprise issues for both Aderant and 3E migrations.

4) Balancing

There are many areas to balance in a migration. Conversion teams typically do high-level balancing in these areas, but not to a level that the firm needs in a migration. The following list summarizes these areas of focus for your migration team:

  • WIP time: Billable and non-billable time by timekeeper (hours, value, and standard value) and by matter (hours and value by currency), Webview unassigned time, and dark period time
  • WIP cost: Billable and non-billable cost by ledger code, cost code, and by currency
  • Purge bills and non-billable purge bills
  • Accounts receivables, collections, unallocated: By ledger code and cost code by currency
  • Statistics: Worked, billed, collected, written-off, and standard value
  • Financial system beginning balances: By G/L type (cash/accrual) and currency
  • Trial balances: By G/L type (cash/accrual) – local currency and base currency (If EGR – Elite Global Release) – you may want to add by Unit currency and including FX revaluations. Trial balances should be as of migration month end and as of three prior year-ends
  • Accounts payable aging: By currency
  • Financial to billing system balancing: WIP, A/R, trust, unallocated, withholding, fee income / cost recovery income, fixed-fee income / fixed-cost income, write-offs and client cost clearing

If you invest the time in preparing these four areas, your firm will be well positioned for successful test migrations and ultimately the final migration to your new software system.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss how Wilson Allen can help your firm enable a successful Enterprise migration.