Law offices and professional service organizations often find that their case management software program no longer meets their business needs. The need for change management is usually the driving force for this occurrence. Changes can be internal, such as improved procedures, implementing checklists, adding internal audit activities or expanding or integrating communications modules for operations. Catalysts may also be external and occur when firms merge or experience sudden growth. In the latter example, often support staff members are unable to meet case management demands with their current software package.
Scalability limitations drive software conversions
Scalability in systems and software refers to the software application’s ability to “scale up” or “scale out” to meet the needs of growing and changing organizations in a seamless and transparent manner. Factors that affect scalability include: needing additional computers or network nodes to access the software, expanding software capabilities during mergers where multiple client databases must be integrated, the ability to provide case status to the Internet, increased reporting capabilities for law office clients demanding file or data access and higher expectations of how technology serves strategy and business expansion into different geographical locations, whether intra-city, across state lines or across borders.
According to William D. Marvin, an attorney with Cohen, Placitella & Roth PC of Philadelphia, PA, “When we took on a major mass tort matter, that provided the occasion to convert.” This was due to the firm’s prior case management system’s inability to align with the firm’s growth. Another scalability limitation occurs when a business recognizes that its current software lacks needed functions. “We decided to convert because the system we were using (Abacus) could not do what we wanted it to do,” said Cheri Hogan, an Office Manager with the Law Office of Paul Hogan, LLC.
As a law practice grows, so does the demand on the software it uses. This manifests when a firm requires its software to have massive rewrites. In some cases, the software becomes unstable and will begin to crash. Crashes increase downtime, stress users, and introduce doubts regarding data integrity. “My firm decided to convert to Needles for a number of different reasons. We wanted a very stable platform, a program that would not suddenly and inexplicably crash while performing routine data entry tasks. Our old one drove us crazy that way,” shared attorney Channing Migner of the Law Office of Channing Migner. “We can get the work done so much faster, we are much more organized, very pleased and really love it.”
Some case management software users convert because their current system creates time inefficiencies, a situation experienced by Firm Administrator and Paralegal Cathy Johnsmeyer of Zwiebel & Fairbanks, LLP, “We have two offices and the connection speed with Saga was extremely slow. We heard that their Windows- based program wasn’t much better. We determined that Needles would be much better and now that we are accessing 85% of the program, things have improved.”
If the case management software company lacks sufficient resources and investment of employee capital, then client users also suffer. Office Manager Norman Hart of Woodruff Injury & Consumer Protection Law told us that they converted to Needles because, “We had an old system, Tort Pro. There was only one person who could help when it had a problem, he was out of state and it took days to get him. However, he did make contact and always gave us a Band-Aid. The system was slow, prone to mistakes and breakdowns. We needed a dependable system WITH service back-up.”
When business or industry needs change, software may not be able to accommodate those needed changes. Paralegal Annette Hanks of Long & Holder, LLP, found her firm’s current software obsolete, “We were using Case Wizard. It was very outdated…The difference between one program and the other is unbelievable.” Organizations, especially professional service companies, are dynamic and need case management software that is flexible. Attorney Channing Migner attributed the need for flexibility to his firm’s decision to choose Needles Case Management Software, “We wanted a software that provided top notch technical customer support with frequent updates or enhancements that kept the system current. Our old one came out with a new version about every 3 years. We wanted a system that could provide us with document merge field integration that was easy to use. Our old one could do that but only in Word, (not Adobe), and was difficult to format. By contrast, (the) Needles’ feature for document integration was simply to use, bulletproof and fairly easy to learn.”
How important is the conversion process and system support?
During the conversion process, it is crucial that the firm’s software and systems are implemented with an understanding of a firm’s strategic business goals and objectives. Defining user specifications and identifying the “what and why” of data to be converted is also integral. It is here that the software application developer’s quality of technical and user staff become critical to a successful conversion. Among the non-data factors that affect the success of a conversion is the quality of the data conversion team. A top-notch conversion and training staff can make this arduous task go smoothly, which is important because data conversions aren’t always a one time event, as Pamela Davis, a Business and Property Manager at VanDerGinst Law PC, can attest to: “We recently went through two conversions with Needles. Our firm split into three separate entities. One of those entities rejoined and we had to go through another conversion to bring them back in. Conversions are a lengthy, tedious process but both times it took place with minimal glitches as your Needles staff have a process in place that provides for a smooth transition.”
Data Conversion Specialists must be willing and able to go through the tedious process of handling the ‘loose’ data that inevitably occurs. Often this data could easily be lost if the conversion staff isn’t steadfast in knowing what to do with this information. This requires a firm hand in not allowing users to jump ahead and “go live” before it is appropriate. Attorney Channing Migner experienced this with his firm’s Needles conversion, “In sum, Needles fulfilled our needs in the conversion process quite well. In fact, when I was in the training session in Baltimore a few weeks ago, I noticed how well the conversion process had gone when I was looking for some rather “ancient” data. It was easy to find and would have been lost had not our Conversion Specialist had the foresight to (patiently) talk me through some issues at the time. I can recall being a bit fed up with the length of time the conversion process was taking and wanting to ‘go live’. Fortunately, he prevailed upon me to wait and I did with superior results in the long term.” Channing also told us that, “We had a lot of data reaching back 12 years. We needed to work with a provider who could help us decide what data to keep and how to best translate that data into a new database structure. Our old software had decent support, but did not provide solutions to problems on a timely basis. We needed a case management provider that would do that for us, no matter how ‘dumb’ our questions sounded.”
Needles prides itself in providing superior customer service. Norman Hart shared his enthusiasm for Needles when asked to describe the conversion experience. His response: “How would I describe the conversion experience? In a word: FANTASTIC! The sales patter was good. But I never expected such a smooth conversion, better than advertised. Needles was a great experience, something like buying a Ford and getting a Rolls! There was a lot of telephoning, but Needles was ALWAYS there for us. The Tech people at Needles were so professional. Our old system had to be converted to Needles. I thought that was going to be a problem. It was not. Needles made a flawless transition. I don’t think we lost a word. And, we had a lot of words! Needles support and Tech worked together. It was great. I worried for nothing.”
Conversions to Needles are based on experience
One reason Hart can say this is because the Needles Conversion Specialists have extensive experience in converting date from other case management software packages to Needles. Over the last few years, many new Needles clients come to us because they are converting from other case management software programs. Needles performs many conversions from other case management programs each year, and has converted over 200 as of this date. While we are extremely proud of the fact that these users would leave their present case management program and convert to Needles, we are even more thrilled to know that, to the best of our knowledge, no law firm has ever left Needles for another system. We think that says a lot!
Needles’s Conversion Specialists have converted data from numerous major case management programs, including: Abacus, Access, Act!, Amicus, Case Explorer, CasePro, Casetracker, CaseWizard, CMS3, Collosus, Excel, Goldmine, Lawbase, Outlook, PCLaw, Perfect Practice, Saga, The Legal System, Time & Chaos, TimeMatters, Tort Pro, Trial de Nova, TrialWorks and Tritech.
To find out how the Needles team can help your firm grow into its scalable and customizable case management software, contact us directly.
For more information:
Channing Migner, Attorney/Owner
Law Office of Channing Migner of Worcester, MA
Cathy Johnsmeyer, Administrator/Paralegal
Zwiebel, Brody, Gold & Fairbanks, LLP of Kingston, N.Y.
William D. Marvin, Esq., Attorney
Cohen, Placitella & Roth PC of Philadelphia, PA
Norman Hart, Woodruff, Office Manager
Woodruff Injury & Consumer Protection Law of Saint Petersburg, Fl
Annette Hanks, Paralegal
Long & Holder, LLP of Atlanta, GA
Pamela T. Davis, Business & Property Manager
VanDerGinst Law, P.C. of Rock Island IL
Cheri Hogan, Office Manager
Law Office of Paul Hogan, LLC of Wichita, KS