Change is difficult. In the world of software implementation, how we manage this change is crucial to the outcome of a project.
In a previous life, I had the fortune of seeing the impact of many legal software implementations (Thomson Reuters Elite Enterprise, Webview and then Elite 3E), both from a support and execution perspective. What became clear was just how important some of the key tasks of a legal PMS deployment are, and more importantly, how easy it is to underestimate what was needed to achieve success.
If we look at the common implementation methodology for most legal PMS deployments, it will consist of:
- Understand the core software functionality and become familiar with the capabilities, limitations and architecture of what you have purchased.
- Detailed analysis of your firms’ business processes against the software’s out of the box workflows/forms/behavior. Identifying the key gaps that need to be addressed through customization or configuration and documenting those gaps so that a development estimate can be provided.
- Detailed understanding of your legacy data and how it should be migrated to your new platform.
- The delivery of the required software configuration to your firm
- The migration of data from your legacy system to the new platform
- The development of software customizations
- The user acceptance testing of the core product and its customizations
- Firm wide user training
- Go Live & Transition
- Flipping the ON switch to your shiny new platform
- End user support and issue resolution
While this implementation approach is sound, there are a number of areas where firms and software vendors repeatedly fail to deliver. This often results in missed milestones, employee attrition, morale issues, and the slowing of business processes (e.g. getting your bills out on time!).
Common areas of failure:
- User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
- Validation of migrated data
- High levels of customization
Today I would like to talk about the importance of rigorous end-to-end user acceptance testing and how you can significantly “de-risk” your implementation by investing time in this area.
First, let’s address why the UAT phase of a legal PMS has become such a critical point of failure.
It starts with the effort required to perform such testing in a meaningful way. Most law firms don’t have the luxury of putting “business as usual” activities on hold for 1-2 years while they implement a new PMS. Therefore, critical resources that are required to focus on both the day to day activities of the firm AND test the new software being implemented are often overstretched leading to testing activity often taking a lower priority than the current needs of the business. The end result? Often, the firms business processes are not fully tested and it’s not until the point of go-live, when users are truly trying to meet the needs of the business through the new system, that critical flaws in converted data, custom code, core product features or setups are uncovered. Not only does this have a huge impact on employee morale, it ultimately can impact the way you do business and therefore ultimately the way you serve your customers.
Based on my experience of legal PMS implementations over the last 16 years, there is a clear trend as follows:
- UAT effort required by a law firm is often underestimated
- Test automation is often an expensive, long and intensive process with limited value due to ongoing changes
- Introducing a new service pack or update during a project can be catastrophic if thorough re-testing is not performed
- While customization cycles include some QA, they are typically only unit testing and it remains your responsibility to test the solutions end to end as part of your business process. More change = more testing cycles
- Often customers find out AFTER go live that issues exist which results in poor internal acceptance and more importantly business processes that simply do not work due to software or customization issues
Without dedicated resources to test thoroughly, you simply put your investment at risk!
Solving the problem
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” — Benjamin Franklin
The key to a smooth implementation is ensuring that you are thoroughly testing your business processes on the new PMS. To do this, you need an efficient yet comprehensive approach to user acceptance testing that consists of:
- A defined testing strategy that covers both functional and performance testing.
- Dedicated resources to test and re-test throughout the project lifecycle.
- Issue tracking tool that allows you to allocate issues to specific owners and track resolution of those issues (e.g. Excel, SmartSheet, Jira etc.)
- Thorough test documentation:
- Functional & Regression Test Scenarios – clearly defined end-to-end test business process scenarios that require testing.
- Test Case Matrix – detailed test cases with execution results for each test performed.
- UAT Summary Report – clearly providing a view of the testing results and QA sign off.
- Performance Test Reports
Investing time and resources in your testing strategy will ultimately lead to a smoother implementation and go-live.
How Helm360 can help
At Helm360, we offer industry leading quality assurance services to the legal market. Why use Helm360 QA services?
- Significantly reduce the risk of your 3E implementation going off track through comprehensive testing
- Reduce pressure on your internal resources so they can focus on key business activities vs repetitive testing cycles
- Highly cost effective hybrid on and offshore delivery model
- 5+ years experience testing 3E 2.6, 2.7 & 2.8 core product for Thomson Reuters
- Pre-defined standard test cases that can be tailored to your specific usage
- Experienced in QA automation methodologies and tools
- Independent, unbiased testing, giving you a true picture of quality