How to Move Your Data Without the Stress
Data can be a pain. There is so much to track and make sense of. On top of that, we have to worry about taking ownership of it and keeping it safe.
For many law firm owners, they are overwhelmed by data in and of itself, so adding the component of migration just scares them even more.
Because of this, we want to take some time to discuss how to move and take your data with you. This is important for any law firm owner who is either switching softwares or moving to a new firm. These can turn into stressful situations when you don’t plan for them and move your data correctly.
When to Start Planning
To be honest, the ideal time to start thinking about data migration is before you even put data into a software. However, for most of you, that ship has probably already sailed and that’s okay.
The next best time to start thinking about data migration is before you need to move the data. That’s when you need to make your plan.
For example, if you have some type of subscription that you’re concerned about expiring and you want to make sure that you get the data out before it expires, ideally you’d make a plan approximately two to three months before you actually want the data moved. That gives you time to think through some of these issues.
The timing of moving your data is also very critical. You want to make sure that you have a place to put your data and that you’re not left without a place for it for any period of time.
If you’re going to change your practice management software, do so at the end of a billing cycle. That way, you can track your time and bill in the old software for one month and then transfer any balances and start time tracking in the new software at the beginning of the next month.
If you have a flat fee firm, the process is a little different. Take a look at your client lifecycle and try not to switch in the middle of a lifecycle. Additionally, avoid working in two softwares for any extended amount of time because it can create confusion. If you have a longer lifecycle, consider transferring all your data at once at the end of the month.
Data Migration Considerations
The first consideration to think about when you’re making your data migration plan is contacts. You don’t want to lose any contact information.
Additionally, you have to think about custom field information. A lot of practice management softwares allow you to create fields to collect information. You want to make sure that you’re getting that information out because that’s where most of your valuable information is held.
The next thing you want to think about is your templates. A lot of practice management softwares have document automation. You’ve probably created various templates in yours. When you move to a new software, those templates won’t automatically be there. You need to make a plan for transferring them.
The next consideration is workflows. You will probably need to build out your templated task lists or workflows again in your new software. Don’t lose those. Find a way to get them out of your old software and rebuild them in your new software.
Next, think about your calendar. Many times, our calendars are represented in our practice management software. We do recommend that but we also recommend that you sync your calendar with Outlook or Google. That way, when you need to switch softwares, it’s really simple.
Similarly, a lot of us look at emails in our practice management software and save emails to the software. Figure out a way to transfer these emails to your new software. Usually, they will be backed up in Google or Outlook.
Finally, you need to consider your documents. It’s very convenient to store documents in your practice management software. The only problem is that they are the hardest things to export and move to a new software. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It just might involve hiring someone or spending a little more time and money to try and get them out.
A simpler way is to store your documents in Dropbox or OneDrive. That way, if you want to switch practice management softwares, it’s super easy and you can know that your documents are saved in the same place.
If you want to learn more about data migration and what you don’t need to transfer, check out Episode 072: Taking Your Data With You.