Today, cloud is all the rage – the majority of the requests for proposals that we now receive from law firms and corporate departments alike are for migrating their iManage document and email management system (DMS) from on-premises to the cloud. Of these firms, some have even tried to move their DMS from on-premises to the cloud themselves, only to realise that despite the investment in time and effort, they may still not have the cloud solution optimised for their organisation’s need. So, partnering with a technology implementation and support partner and vendor is an astute business approach.
Why, I hear you ask?
In-house challenges for IT departments
Foremost, typically, IT departments in organisations don’t have the in-depth knowledge of the DMS itself or any other single product, for that matter. And why would they – their role is to ensure that the organisation’s IT infrastructure works as it should, their internal clients have access to the technology they need to go about their day to day activity and most crucially, that they are looking at technology requirements strategically to meet business growth requirements. Even if a firm wants to replicate the DMS “as is” in the cloud, there are technical requirements and nuances that must be taken into consideration. It isn’t as simplistic as a “lift and shift”.
Additionally, rarely does a business application sit in isolation in organisations today. They are integrated with other systems – case management, practice management, document automation, template management, and the list goes on. Therefore, extricating the DMS, moving it to the cloud and then reconnecting the application with other systems requires knowledge, skills, techniques and processes. Also, a wide variety of specialised integrations tools are needed and in-house IT departments don’t have access to them. It’s an investment that is not worth making for one-off projects. Fundamentally, organisations are better off using the services of professional technology and support providers whose bread and butter activity it is to ensure that technology is not just well-deployed, but also optimised to deliver value to their customers. For instance, we at Ascertus have honed our skills over many years and several deployments, bringing knowledge, insight and industry best practice to every implementation that we do.
An analogy that I use to make my point is – if I needed to develop, say a complicated property contract, potentially I could scour the web, find a template and put a draft together. However, it will lack the nuanced information and expertise that I could only get from an experienced lawyer to ensure that the contract is legally water tight – so that should something to wrong in the future, I will be secure.
Value of an experienced implementation and support partner
Let’s look at the value that technology vendors and support partners like Ascertus provide to help law firms and corporate departments optimise their DMS in the cloud.
Of course, you could simply replicate the on-premises design of the DMS in the cloud, but this move to the cloud is a good opportunity to revisit the application’s taxonomy and configuration to make improvements so that it better meets the needs of the organisation – especially now when remote and hybrid working is the norm, and potentially business practices have changed. An implementation and support partner will evaluate the existing system design to suggest changes to ensure that the DMS delivers an enhanced user experience, and improved security – in addition to any specific requirements organisations might have for their cloud instance of the technology.
Professionals, especially lawyers, are loathed to delete any data to cater for the off chance that they might need it in the future. Right? But the reality is that data storage costs can be high – not to mention other considerations such as the importance of records management from a compliance standpoint. A technology implementation partner can guide firms through this process.
In fact, this area is an Ascertus specialism. We undertake in-depth Cloud Readiness Health Checks – reviewing everything from the organisation’s server infrastructure through to mobile working requirements and local client PC environments – to ensure that any issues are redressed before the application is moved to the cloud environment. Data migration is a key component within this process. For one of our clients, we wrote a script and found that they had about 80 million documents that they wanted to migrate to the cloud – but about 40 million of those documents hadn’t been accessed in over seven years. We were able to suggest an approach to data storage that allowed them to keep the data in a manner that met the needs of the lawyers – in compliance with regulations – and was a lot more cost-effective than migrating in entirety to the cloud.
Third party integrations
Another key area where implementation and support partners add value is integrating the DMS with other third party applications. For example, Ascertus has strong relationships with many complementary technology vendors in the broader document management space – document comparison, template management, document automation, matter management, case management and so on. As a result, in addition to knowing the iManage solution inside out, we have a similar understanding of these other related applications and the nuances that must be taken into consideration when integrating these solutions to iManage in the cloud. This is critical to ensuring that projects are delivered on time, within budget and as smoothly as possible so that daily business operation isn’t disrupted.
Implementation partners have visibility of vendors’ future roadmap, which means that they can advise to help organisations with IT planning. For instance, we at Ascertus are routinely asked by our customers on what new functionality is coming down the line as a result of iManage’s strategic partnership with Microsoft. This kind of insight can be very valuable for organisations as they look to maximise their return on investment in their IT infrastructure more broadly.
Similarly, based on the product knowledge implementation and support partners have – of both the third-party applications and the customers’ business requirements – they can propose the best product for specific capabilities. To illustrate, if a firm is looking for say a matter management solution, depending on their unique business requirements, solution A may be more suitable to their needs than solution B. A good implementation and support partner is well positioned to advise. In fact, as strategic advisors, some clients include Ascertus as part of their evaluation team, when they invite technology vendors to demonstrate their products.
Customer success programme
Implementation partners have formalised processes that are sharpened with every deployment. This means that they can spot and remediate issues before they turn into problems during the execution stage. Customer success initiatives are designed to ensure that projects are delivered speedily, correctly and to the satisfaction of organisations’ users – which is ultimately the only “real” measure of success.
If you are looking to move your iManage DMS to the cloud, and would like assistance, we’d be very happy to discuss your priorities and challenges so that you get the project right the first time. In this last year alone, Ascertus has undertaken over 40 iManage cloud deployments, already. Please complete the form below.