Written by: Bimal Dave, EVP, Helm360
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Traditional Legal PMS User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
Change is difficult. In the world of software implementation, how we manage this change is crucial to the outcome of a project.
In a previous life, I had the fortune of seeing the impact of many legal software implementations (Thomson Reuters ProLaw, Elite Enterprise, Webview, and then Elite 3E), both from a support and execution perspective. What became clear was just how important some of the key tasks of a legal PMS deployment are, and more importantly, how easy it is to underestimate what was needed to achieve success.
If we look at the common implementation methodology for most legal PMS deployments, it will consist of:
- Understanding the core software functionality and becoming familiar with the capabilities, limitations, and architecture of what you have purchased.
- Detailed analysis of your firm’s business processes against the software’s out of the box workflows/forms/behavior.
- Identifying the key gaps that need to be addressed through customization or configuration and documenting those gaps so that a development estimate can be provided.
- Developing a detailed understanding of your legacy data and how it should be migrated to your new platform.
- The delivery of the required software configuration to your firm.
- The migration of data from your legacy system to the new platform.
- The development of software customizations.
- The user acceptance testing (UAT) of the core product and its customizations.
- Firm-wide user training.
- Go-Live & Transition
- Flipping the ON switch to your shiny new platform.
- End-user support and issue resolution.
While this implementation approach is sound, there are a number of areas where firms and software vendors repeatedly fail to deliver. This often results in missed milestones, employee attrition, morale issues, and the slowing of business processes (e.g. getting your bills out on time!).
Common Areas of Failure
- User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
- Validation of migrated data
- High levels of customization
I would like to emphasize the importance of rigorous end-to-end UAT and how you can significantly “de-risk” your implementation by investing time in this area.
First, let’s address why the UAT phase of implementing a legal PMS has become such a critical point of failure.
It starts with the effort required to perform such testing in a meaningful way. Most software developers, when working with C++, outsource their testing solutions to a company who provides a C++ test. Most law firms don’t have the luxury of putting “business as usual” activities on hold for 1-2 years while they implement a new PMS. Therefore, critical resources that are required to focus on both the day-to-day activities of the firm AND test the new software being implemented are often overstretched, leading to testing activity often taking a lower priority than the current needs of the business.
The end result? Often, the firm’s business processes are not fully tested and it’s not until the point of go-live, when users are truly trying to meet the needs of the business through the new system, that critical flaws in converted data, custom code, core product features, or setups are uncovered.
Not only does this have a huge impact on employee morale, it ultimately can impact the way you do business and therefore, ultimately, the way you serve your customers.
Based on my experience in legal PMS implementations over the last 16 years, there is a clear trend as follows:
- The UAT effort required by a law firm is often sorely underestimated.
- Test automation is often an expensive, long, and intensive process with limited value due to ongoing changes.
- Introducing a new service pack or update during a project can be catastrophic if thorough re-testing is not performed.
- While customization cycles include some QA, this is typically only unit testing and it remains your responsibility to test the solutions end-to-end as part of your business process. More change = more testing cycles.
- Often customers find out AFTER go-live that issues exist, which results in poor internal acceptance — and more importantly, business processes that simply do not work due to software or customization issues.
Without dedicated resources to test thoroughly, you simply put your investment at risk!
Solving the Problem: a New UAT Paradigm
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
– Benjamin Franklin
The key to a smooth implementation is ensuring that you are thoroughly testing your business processes on the new PMS. To do this, you need an efficient yet comprehensive approach to UAT that consists of:
- A defined testing strategy that covers both functional and performance testing.
- Dedicated resources to test and re-test throughout the project lifecycle.
- An issue tracking tool that allows you to allocate issues to specific owners and track resolution of those issues (e.g. Excel, SmartSheet, Jira, etc.).
- Thorough test documentation:
- Functional & Regression Test Scenarios – clearly defined end-to-end business process scenarios that require testing.
- Test Case Matrix – detailed test cases with execution results for each test performed.
- UAT Summary Report – clearly providing a view of the testing results and QA sign off.
- Performance Test Reports
Investing time and resources into your testing strategy will ultimately lead to smoother implementation and go-live.
How We Can Help
Helm360 offers industry-leading UAT and QA testing services to the legal market. Why use Helm360 testing services?
- Significantly reduce the risk of your software upgrade or implementation going off track through comprehensive testing.
- Reduce pressure on your internal resources so they can focus on key business activities vs. repetitive testing cycles.
- We offer a highly cost-effective hybrid on- and off-shore delivery model.
- Helm360 professionals have many years of experience testing popular PMS options such as ProLaw, Elite 3E 2.6 / 2.7 / 2.8, Elite Enterprise, and other Thomson Reuters core products.
- Our pre-defined standard test cases can be tailored to your specific usage scenarios.
- We are highly experienced in QA automation methodologies and tools.
- Our independent, unbiased testing services give you a true picture of quality for your firm’s systems and ongoing success.
Want to learn more about UAT, QA testing, or connect with the Helm360 Testing Team? Contact us! Our experts are happy to answer questions, give more in-depth testing information, and schedule one-on-one consultations.