Migrating your DMS to the cloud? There is a better way.

On page seven of the recently released ILTA Tech Survey Summary, we’re told that “the conversations about cloud use have moved from ‘will we’ to ‘when will we.'”  Like many other organizations, perhaps your firm has decided that they are going to take the leap; you are moving to the cloud.

You have all the right reasons for wanting to make the move. You have so much more that you want to accomplish strategically than contemplate the architecture and renewal of your aging onsite infrastructure. Some of your clients have articulated requirements ranging from SLA demands for 99.999% up-time to demonstrations of a superior security infrastructure, penetration testing and disaster recovery capabilities. This has created an overwhelming sense that your firm could never get there on your own.

In the Deloitte Insight: Tech Trends 2020 report, cloud continues to be among the nine macro technology forces that make up “…the backbone of business innovation and transformation.” There is no longer any question of cloud adoption but rather “how will you get there,” and “what will getting there mean” in terms of how users interact with your firm’s data?

If just the items mentioned above are truly important, then the firm is already in for a sea of change. The move to cloud would definitely allow for the simplification of your document management system (DMS) infrastructure, but it should also inspire a review of how all of your data is managed. Maybe, like many others, your firm didn’t just have documents in the DMS. Users and teams often maintain documents outside of the DMS in order to get the advantages associated with applications that didn’t integrate well into that environment. These content repositories often contain hundreds of thousands of documents and are core to specific business functions for which no real contingency has been developed apart from the backup regime currently in place.

But if we want a 99.999% SLA, then we’ve got to have it all across the board, right? There goes the simplicity of just making a backup of the existing repository and sending it off to iManage for inclusion in their cloud environment. However, it’s not that simple either. A backup can be created for the existing repository and, yes, it can be sent off to iManage. But how to deal with the content being generated and modified in the repository between the time that backup is taken and the time the content is ready for access in the cloud? What about those custom queries that your IT department had so cleverly built to dynamically generate workspaces based on information from the firm’s practice management solution? What about the other integrations you’ve built that directly leveraged the iManage database or the legacy API? How will these work in the ‘new world’? How will I expose my content to AI platforms so my users can benefit?

Some of our customers have asked us to help them build solutions that ensure they have ongoing, direct access to their data in ways not offered by your ‘typical’ cloud solution. They didn’t want to lose out on functionality provided by platforms that continue to have a significant impact on their daily activities. Others just wanted the security of knowing that they will continue to have an accessible backup of their cloud content that they can control.

There are a lot of things to consider, chief among these items is how to make the change with as little interruption to your users as possible and without losing data or data context. But there’s an opportunity to do much more if you take some time to consider your options. You have a lot of systems with a lot of data that may not be well tied together. Is this one of those moments when you can find common elements to your data and use those elements to build additional context and intelligence into the content? Is this the time to eliminate, rather than perpetuate, the challenges that have been hanging around now for some time?

I know, from experience, that it’s possible to have a seamless transition with the right process and the right tools. From my perspective, this part is fairly simple. The aftermath, if you haven’t considered all the angles, won’t be so simple.

Ask yourself this question: Am I implementing this change in a way that solves an apparent IT ‘headache’ for me or am I implementing the change in a way that brings greater value to my users in terms of their content interactions while solving an IT headache and increasing customer confidence? It will change the way you approach the pieces, and you’ll end up with a much better result.

Is it simple? No. Can it be straightforward? Yes!


Howard Russell, president and CEO, RBRO Solutions