Read time: 9 minutes 30 seconds
Is there anything more annoying than a slow application – especially when you’ve invested in best-of-breed tools, high-end equipment, cloud hosting, data storage, etc.? Not really.
And in an industry where every minute is meticulously accounted for, any latency in your law firm’s data delivery is a hit to your bottom line.
For Elite 3E users, performance testing is the panacea for this technology issue. Far more comprehensive than user acceptance testing (UAT), performance testing not only optimizes your system’s speed and usability but also positions it for future growth.
Sadly, we find that this is a service many law firms put off or avoid altogether until their system is in crisis, their attorneys are beyond frustrated, and their workflows and productivity rates are severely compromised.
We don’t want this to happen to you.
Below is our insider’s guide to Elite 3E performance testing as well as seven steps to ensure your testing project is a success.
Why Elite 3E Performance Testing is Necessary
You may be thinking, “Why do I need performance testing when I’m implementing an application that’s been tried, tested, and used all over the world? Thomson Reuters did some level of performance testing. I simply need to plug and play, right?”
Each Elite 3E system is unique. Why? Because each firm using the application…
- Has a different infrastructure. From physical to virtual, on-prem to cloud, and DAS to SAN, there are many different types of IT infrastructure that a firm might be using. System performance can be impacted by differences in load balancers and configurations, anti-virus software, remote access needs, network latency, and so on. Each combination of software and hardware requires that 3E be tuned differently to accommodate a given firm’s needs and goals.
- Uses a different Elite 3E configuration. Elite 3E has myriad different features and capabilities, not all of which are used at all firms. Because 3E can be configured very differently at different firms, it is crucial to get a personalized assessment of how your firm’s specific configuration impacts the application’s performance.
- Employs different customizations. 3E customizations are akin to fingerprints; no two are alike. The complex workflow rules involved in your firm’s unique customizations may have performance costs and/or require additional validation logic.
- Has different integrations. From BizTalk to Intapp to Office 365, each firm chooses its own suite of business applications and how they’re going to work together. They also have varying upstream/downstream systems. 3E performance can be affected by the integrations that your firm is using.
Your configurations, customizations, and infrastructure create complexities, logic threads, and computing scenarios specific to your firm’s instance of 3E. Therefore, many of 3E’s default out-of-the-box settings will not afford an optimal experience for your users.
The only way to get an accurate, holistic view of how your system is working—and how to improve it—is to undergo a customized performance test.
When to Performance Test
When to do this work is a matter of mindset. In working with many 3E firms, we find that performance testing is typically approached in one of two ways: reactive or proactive.
In one common reactive approach, a firm doesn’t realize the need for performance testing until after Elite 3E has been implemented and the user acceptance testing (UAT) process is underway. Waiting until this stage to seek performance testing can cause serious issues like:
- Lack of confidence in the system. If there’s latency with a limited number of users, what will happen when the firm extends access to the rest of their employees?
- Negative user perception. Poor application performance during UAT erodes the testers’ enthusiasm for 3E and slows down user buy-in.
- Extended timelines and testing cycles. Slow performance makes for downstream schedule delays. The speed bumps affect go-live timing and impact the ROI that a firm can realize from implementing 3E.
- Added costs. Latency that causes poor user experiences will lead to more internal testing as well as vendor involvement, incurring more costs.
The other common reactive scenario happens when the UAT process has gone smoothly and the firm begins experiencing latency issues after the go-live date. Unfortunately, performance testing after go-live is an even riskier undertaking than during UAT. For instance, once a firm has already onboarded all of their employees to 3E:
- Performance issues have a higher impact. With everyone using the application, subpar performance affects billing, time entry, and other key business tasks that impact the firm’s cash flow and daily productivity.
- Change management is more difficult. With the system in full use, tracking and making changes to infrastructure, databases, etc., is a lot harder. It’s also difficult to predict the repercussions that changes to 3E will have on integrated applications.
- There is a limited window of opportunity to implement and test changes. The work of making and testing changes must be scheduled and performed around daily activity.
While reactive 3E performance testing is better than no performance testing at all, there are incredible advantages to being proactive instead.
The proactive approach includes performance testing as part of the implementation procedure; the testing occurs before there’s any UAT or user activity. This is the approach we champion. It mitigates risk, saves time and money, and makes it possible for users to enjoy the best possible experience with 3E from day one.
As our Executive VP, Bim Dave, says of proactive 3E performance testing:
“This approach is designed to give you peace of mind. It ensures the system can scale up to meet the needs of concurrent users and that it meets the demands of your business in a nice and smooth manner.”
7 Steps to Successful Elite 3E Performance Testing
Bringing Elite 3E into your legal tech landscape is a big move. It needs to provide optimal performance and value from the get-go. Here are our seven tried and tested steps to successful performance testing guaranteed to make your go-live a positive event.
- Establish a performance baseline. In order to gauge performance improvement, you need to benchmark your system’s current performance level. Establishing a baseline via the best practices established by Thomson Reuters and other associated vendors gives you this baseline. As part of this step, we recommend performing a system health check to ensure that everything is configured as expected, including your antivirus policy. This gives you a solid starting point for performance testing and later comparisons.
- Deploy tools and monitor. This two-part step involves putting automation and monitoring tools in place to expedite the performance testing process.
- Automation framework. Using a series of automated processes can eliminate the need for manual data entry during performance testing. Helm360 works with each firm to develop a customized series of tests that simulate their specific use cases and load levels throughout the month. These tests allow us to accurately simulate what go-live at a particular firm will look like.
- Monitoring. Keeping tabs on how the system’s components are performing is necessary throughout the testing process. From infrastructure to databases to the Elite 3E application, you want to examine and monitor everything to get a holistic view of the whole system. This information will be used to gauge performance improvement.
- Personalize. This step tunes the automation tools to your firm’s scenarios. It also accounts for any added complexities or deep logic you’ve added to core processes. This step also takes your load volume into consideration, your current levels as well as projected levels, allowing you to see your future growth trajectory.
- Performance test. With all the preliminary work done, the performance test itself is executed in three key phases:
- Load. This phase is a ramp-up to your active concurrent user (ACU) count to see how the system copes with the load; it’s a short test run before the soak.
- Soak. This phase is a longer test (12-16 hours) with 90% of the expected load. The soak test identifies bottlenecks, memory lags, unnecessary code, CPU loops on the app server, etc. It allows for honing in on issues and understanding why they are happening.
- Stress. This phase of the performance test takes the system to its max, ensuring it can withstand extremely stressful scenarios and grow with your firm in the future.
- Resolve. At the end of the performance test, a report is produced indicating performance issues that need to be resolved. The report covers all areas of the system: infrastructure, the Elite 3E application, CPU, memory, servers, customizations, etc. It’s a 360-degree view of your system’s performance elements. A decision is made on how to resolve each one, the chosen solution is implemented, and the implemented solution is tested individually.
- Retest. With the changes made and tested, a full performance test is needed to benchmark the impact. The results are compared to the initial test to gauge improvement and determine if the changes produced any new issues. This test-resolve-retest cycle continues until optimum performance is attained.
- Go-live. The pay-off for this approach is that go-live is a smooth, easy transition lacking unpleasant surprises. Your users have a good experience, there’s no disruption to daily activity, and the Elite 3E application can start delivering ROI immediately.
Helm360’s Professional Performance Testing Touch
Performance testing is a heavy lift, and we strongly recommend employing technology professionals to do these projects. Doing so will give you a designated team for the work and allow your in-house IT professionals to stay on-task supporting your firm.
Although there are plenty of tech vendors to choose from, Helm360’s Elite 3E Performance Testing Team brings extensive legal tech expertise and experience as well as:
- Deep knowledge of the Elite 3E application and the legal landscape. Many of our professionals are former Thomson Reuters employees with extensive Elite 3E application know-how. As legal tech specialists, we fully understand the unique needs and challenges inherent in the legal sector.
- Tried and proven automated testing libraries. We’ve leveraged our performance testing experience to develop a suite of automated test scripts that expedite the process, making it more efficient and less costly.
- Thomson Reuters Partnerships. We’re a Thomson Reuters 3E Application Certified Partner and 3E IDE/Technical Certified Partner.
- Creative IT solutions tailored specifically to your situation, timeline, and budget. Each performance testing project is unique. We customize our testing parameters to each law firm.
- Unparalleled customer service. We listen, collaborate, and create solutions that meet your firm’s individual needs.
At the end of the day, you just want your applications to work quickly, smoothly, and reliably. A proactive approach to performance testing can make this scenario a reality. Don’t consider it an Elite 3E implementation nice-to-have. Put it in the must-do column. You’ll reap the benefits now and as your firm grows.
As Bim says:
“Our goal is to empower you to think about performance testing at the beginning of your project so you plan for it. We want you to go into your go-live or upgrades with confidence that your system will perform when all of the users get online and start using the product. We want you to enjoy the experience of using Elite 3E.”
Want to learn more about Helm360’s Elite 3E performance testing offering? Contact us! We’re happy to answer questions and help you determine the best strategy for your law firm’s situation.