What is data migration? For us, it's simple. Attorneys and law firms are notorious for having antiquated systems. The law firms are paper-centric. Many firms, especially the larger ones, still rely on servers and desktop software. At our firm, we have made it our mission to bring them into the 21st-century.
Our priority is to develop and tailor our process for a law firm's successful data migration project. Data migration is tedious work; however, it can be an additional revenue source for your accounting firm when done well. In our experience, data migration projects have about 85% opportunity to become repetitive clients; even with staff in place doing the accounting work, most clients end up needing our firm to be that supportive outsourced accounting team. This reason alone is good to consider learning how to implement data migration or partnering with a firm that does.
In this article, Lynda Artesani and I will share some tips on performing data migration that may help you help your clients. To learn even more tips, join us at Scaling New Heights 2021 for our session "How to Navigate a Data Migration Project."
What is data migration?
Data migration moves data from one system or software that is in need of an upgrade or a change, typically to something more modern or cloud-based. Changing software sounds so simple, but in reality, it is not.
There are many working and moving parts. It is important that you either learn the correct techniques or hire the right company to complete the migration; it will make a world of difference. Here are a few challenges you will face in migrating data:
- Choosing a start date
- Opening balances
- Open accounts receivable
- Trust account balances (law firms)
- Historical data entry
As you start a data migration process, here are a few things you need to plan.
Catching up the data
The reason why most of the legal firms we work with are afraid to make the change (even though they know it's good for them) is that they don't want to get behind in their work. Having the ability to continue working in their software and then having our firm catch up with the data is always one of the areas that seems to give our client the most ease. If we have to re-create historical data, the client must understand the end result.
Open accounts receivable
Most law firms and attorneys have detailed invoices. You will find detailed invoicing if you work with contractors and other industries as well. As you start to back-build the accounts receivable, there has to be a clear understanding of what any re-entered paid and unpaid invoices will look like. Define the process and teach your clients how the re-created invoices work in any software that you are using that is specialized for your clients' industry.
Chart of accounts
One perk of switching software systems is that it provides a great opportunity to fine-tune and refine the data. The chart of accounts is typically an area that is either not well defined or is ripe with old-school accounts that are no longer used. This is the one of the first places we step in and work with a client. Reformatting their chart of accounts improves data flow and navigation and improves reporting.
In our experience, we find that when we move a law firm from something that's antiquated to a modern system, it's an opportunity to implement some additional tools to use automation to its fullest possibility. Part of our data migration workflow is interviewing the staff to find out exactly what their tasks or duties are and to see if there's a place that we can automate. Since we specialize in the industry, we have already studied and geek-ed out on the software and technology to do our job and the client's job with precision and efficiency. We design workflows to work precisely for the law firm's size and the practice area. That's customization at its finest!
Speaking of customization, the primary tool that we use is QuickBooks Online Advanced. This software allows for customization beyond the boundaries of what is baked in the software already. With custom fields, we can take a client off of software that may not be working well or remove their need to use spreadsheets to supplement what is currently not working. They would like to see one or two features in the new software that can incorporate and do away with supplemental items. With custom fields, we can design QuickBooks and our legal software, LeanLaw, which has that connected API to make the two platforms even more powerful for the law firm and data tracking.
We hope these tips are helpful. We are excited to be able to speak teach you "How to Navigate a Data Migration Project" at Scaling New Heights 2021. We look forward to seeing you there!