Planning for system upgrades and future improvement phases

Firms must ensure they plan for future upgrades when investing in new technology, writes 3Kites’ Rachel Edmondson

Tech systems can go stale if they are not kept up to date Shutterstock

Going live with any new system is a success and should be celebrated – but it is just the beginning of the journey with that product. It is often one that you will be on for many years, and complacency is not an option.

Planning for the next software-as-a-service (SaaS) update or on-prem upgrades, together with continual improvement projects, can be the last consideration for a firm when you have just launched a new system and are still in the transition/adjustment phase. However, not planning and considering any resource implications can put you behind the curve and mean you could miss out on getting the most from your investment.

All too often systems like practice, case and knowledge management systems (to name a few) become static after going live due to project fatigue, relief that the project is live and a desire to just move on. This can lead to loss of engagement with users, loss of future benefits and a reduction in a firm’s return on investment.

Fast forward six to 12 months post your go-live date when you will be collating and reviewing trends from the business, feeding back on areas for improvement while also considering new features that will have been added by the supplier. All of these could improve process efficiency and increase adoption of the product, so this is the time to plan your future phases – for some this is referred to as phase two, while others refer to it as a continual improvement roadmap.

In a PMS (practice management system), examples could include improved processes for file opening or adding new features for time capture and automated billing options. With the combined knowledge from those supporting these systems and the business feedback, you can start to look at what may be in existing and future product modules or what fixes and enhancements are due in the next upgrade to continue that improvement journey.

Planning is the key to getting the most out of future phases. The firm should ensure that technology providers’ roadmaps are integrated with its own technology roadmap, and aligned with the business strategy so that the evolution of any platforms currently in use is pre-planned and change management becomes a natural behaviour within the firm.  

Not planning for enhancements and upgrades will see your product remain static. If you are a cloud customer, you will have to take any upgrade and could be under prepared. It is wise to plan and include an allowance in your budgets for an annual upgrade for any key systems where these are not done automatically by the supplier. Consider key dates to avoid to ensure that required business and other resources are available for the testing and training phases.

If the points raised here resonate with your firm but you are unsure how to progress, please get in touch: we can help you plan and implement future system upgrades and continual improvement projects to ensure that you get the best value out of your investments and that they complement both your business and product strategies.

Please contact 3Kites to see how we can help you. Rachel ([email protected]) leads our project management team but you can also contact Mel ([email protected]), Jon ([email protected]) or Paul ([email protected]).

Rachel Edmondson is a director at 3Kites. This is the 28th article in the series Navigating Legaltech


About 3Kites and Kemp IT Law  
3Kites is an independent consultancy, which is to say that we have no ties or arrangements with any suppliers so that we can provide our clients with unfettered advice. We have been operating since 2006 and our consultants include former law firm partners (one a managing partner), a GC, two law firm IT directors and an owner of a practice management company. This blend of skills and experience puts us in a unique position when providing advice on IT strategy, fractional IT management, knowledge management, product selections, process review (including the legal process) and more besides. 3Kites often works closely with Kemp IT Law (KITL), a boutique law firm offering its clients advice on IT services and related areas such as GDPR. Where relevant (eg when discussing cloud computing in a future article) this column may include content from the team at KITL to provide readers with a broader perspective including any regulatory considerations.

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