NetDocuments Migration – David Delker Comments

Last week, we were pleased to host our Tips and Tricks for NetDocuments Migration webinar, and we were even more pleased to have Fireman & Company’s David Delker add his hard earned advice. In case you couldn’t make it, we’ve compiled his sage migration advice here:

1.     There is no magic wand for migration.

David Delker: At a minimum, it is imperative to conduct a thorough legacy DMS database analysis at the onset of the project. The database analysis will help discover issues or challenges in advance of conducting a database migration. For example:

  • Review of legacy DMS document profile metadata (both existing and legacy metadata that may have existed previously but no longer in use)
  • Consistency of metadata (e.g. matters that exist in your time & billing system vs matters that exist in the DMS. (or lack thereof) of Matter-centricity
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  • Document to DMS folder relationships
  • Review of users and group memberships and the consistency between multiple DMS libraries

2.     Source environments change over time.

David Delker: The engagement should start with a review of the current legacy DMS system – what are the application and system integrations, to include security. How are the documents profiled and what metadata is current vs legacy metadata? What are the integration points and workflow around line of business applications? How are new matters pushed to the DMS? And how frequently are updates synchronized?

3.     Going it alone, might be hard.

David Delker: Firms with the right staff can do this on their own. However, in our experience, we have found even the largest global firms ask for assistance since NetDocuments is new to them and they don’t do this every day.

Recommended roles are pursuing this on their own:

  • Dedicated project manager
  • Database admin comfortable with analyzing and comparing the DMS SQL data
  • DMS administrator
  • Business liaison (e.g. CKO or KM Director) to conduct interview sessions and requirements discussions with attorneys

4.     Things are going to break and get lost.

David Delker: Reverting to the importance of conducting a thorough database analysis is highly important. The database analysis not only yields potential challenges in advance of a data migration, it also sets up the framework for the mapping of legacy DMS metadata in alignment with NetDocuments profile attributes.

Administrators should account for documents that have been imported to NetDocuments and those that may not have been migrated properly (for example a log that tracks all documents imported vs documents that were not imported). This is something that SeeUnity’s tool does very well.

5.     Take advantage of workspace templates and lookup tables.

David Delker: A common misstep here is to make decisions in a vacuum. When planning for a DMS migration or any tier 1 business line application upgrade/replacement, you should identify the project sponsor, project charter and key stakeholders at the start of the project and ensure an adequate communication plan is drafted to socialize key milestone achievements, critical project risks or setbacks, and more importantly a review of the NetDocuments workspace design in advance of conducting a data migration.

Our recommendation is to incorporate Workspace design activities as part of the functional and business requirements phase of the project. This is to ensure that no data has been migrated into a the NetDocuments repository in advance of completing workspace design and configuration.

6.     Your new system shouldn’t look like your old one.

David Delker: It is critical to understand why the firm wants this project undertaken. Simply carrying over a current workspace design is likely going to perpetuate any levels of adoption you currently have.

What are the firm’s business drivers? These can range from records management and risk management to process improvement, matter and practice management, experience management, and pricing.

Throughout each key milestone of the project, particularly at the completion of the requirements, ensure that the approved design and approach meets the needs and criteria as laid out in the functional and business requirements, which should include the key business drivers.

7.     Your users are in charge.

David Delker: At Fireman & Company, we interview over 1,000 attorneys each year. Understanding their needs is crucial to the successful implementation of any enterprise-level system. As mentioned previously, DM adoption is an expected outcome, not a goal. The configuration and migration of data to the newly designed NetDocuments workspace will not matter if attorneys don’t know how or won’t use the system because it was poorly designed.

Develop Focus Groups to identify lawyers, other professionals, and staff from across the firm that represents a cross-sectional demographic of practice groups and administrative business functions. The interview sessions with Focus Group participants are designed to gather information and requirements.

8.     Your users are wrong.

David Delker: The folks in IT that have been with the firm for more than a few years generally have a good understanding of what attorneys are more equal than others. Staying in front of this to socialize the coming changes as well as communicating the level of participation from the practices (in the form of the focus group interview sessions) will help to navigate these situations.

Additionally, ensuring that you have secured Firm management level support throughout the project. Where regular communication is disseminated summarizing the sense of urgency and reasons why the migration to NetDocuments is important to the firm.

9.     The actual migration process doesn’t need to be disruptive.

David Delker: Segmenting the data migration into multiple stages will help to minimize distribution to business day-to-day activities. For example:

  • Initial data migration: migrate a subset of data, with a cross representation of content for each type of workspace type (e.g. sample Litigation and Transaction matters for your litigators and deal lawyers, respectively). The initial data migration is intended to validate the functional and business requirements to ensure the data mapping from the legacy DMS to NetDocuments has been implemented correctly as well as to validate the business and functional requirements have been met.
  • Full data migration: migrate all target libraries and associated documents to NetDocuments. User acceptance testing is also conducted post-Full data migration.
  • Delta migration: this is the final migration to bring over any new documents or edits to documents since the full data migration. Ideally, this is completed the weekend before go-live.

10. Migrations are usually a one-way trip – plan accordingly.

David Delker: With proper planning and choosing the right implementation partner(s) many of the challenges are discovered and identified prior to the data migration and go-live weekend, meaning there really should not be any major surprises at the time of Go-live.


We want to thank David again for joining us, and we hope to do another one of these with him soon! This information was presented so nicely, and we wanted you all to have easy access to his comments. Hopefully this helps you with your migration, and we hope to be in touch about how SeeUnity can help you! For more on migration read the following:

Posted on: July 6, 2017