By Russ Haskin, Senior Director, Business of Law Consulting

As discussed in the previous blog, no firm should enter vendor conversations about migrating to the cloud until they have completed a thorough cloud readiness assessment. Not doing so opens the door to risks and possible failure.

In my experience, whether it is a CRM vendor, FMS vendor, or any other software cloud provider, the prevailing theme is that the cloud will make your wildest dreams come true. However, migrating solutions to the cloud is not a simple decision where you snap your fingers, and operational improvements appear. Instead, it requires strategy and self-diagnosis to ensure the firm reaches its goals. It also requires effort and transparency to make certain vendor and client are aligned.

Approaching the vendor ill-informed and not providing it with a complete picture can lead to dire consequences. For this reason, the decision should be canvassed widely within the firm—it is not simply an IT operational decision.

To illustrate, let’s use a simple example. Let’s say a firm is trying to migrate its 10-year-old, on-premise financial management solution to a cloud offering with the same vendor. Let’s also assume that in the previous 10 years, the firm has done the following three things:

  • Added over 200 user defined functions (UDFs)
  • Aligned with third-party time entry, business intelligence, and intake providers
  • Created custom applications to support data management across all software

Just these three bullet points impact the deliveries and operations of the firm immensely. That means that any migration toward the cloud must account for the following:

  1. Integration of required third-party tools
  2. Open or repurposed fields to house necessary UDFs
  3. Access by the firm to adjust or add UDFs
  4. Open-source code or APIs for the firm to integrate their custom applications

If the vendor is not set up to accommodate these, the change in their infrastructure and approach to meet firm needs could be lengthy and costly.

Although we strongly recommend a full cloud readiness assessment, at minimum, firms should fully understand their technical ecosphere and relay that to the vendor to ensure alignment. If older systems on legacy platforms need integration, options can be limited.

Unfortunately, firms may find significant variations within the cloud offerings of potential vendors. In addition, the infrastructure of one cloud provider may not mesh with that of another. So, either the business must change, the vendor must change, or the cloud strategy must change.

The firm needs to be fully informed and make sure any potential vendor knows the entire landscape so they can appropriately align their offering. The firm and vendor can feel more confident in the long-term partnership if done correctly.

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