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Successfully upgrading Lexis Visualfiles

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Five pragmatic steps to success

When I’m talking to customers a common concern I hear is the perceived challenge of upgrading key operational systems. Of course it’s not just a Visualfiles issue, but our investment in Visualfiles 2014 has caused an explosion of interest and people clearly want to move to this version of the system. So, increasingly, it’s time to think about an upgrade. 

Whilst we don’t add new features to old versions, we do continue to provide support for them. This can be a double-edged sword because, as a result of this approach, some clients are still running versions of Visualfiles that are at least five years old. But upgrading to Visualfiles 2014 needn’t be a major headache.

First, let me say that we DO understand the fear of upgrading and we do our best to mitigate the situation. An early task with Visualfiles 2014 was to completely rewrite the installation programmes. This makes the implementation of the core software much easier, allowing you to focus your attention on ensuring your workflows continue to operate in the new version. We’ve also spent a great deal of effort ensuring that Visualfiles 2014 is backwards compatible and that any transition from SolCase is highly automated.

So if you have decided to move, what are the pragmatic, simple steps to reduce the risk?

  1. Ensure your current live system is as healthy as possible. Whilst it doesn’t directly impact your upgrade, providing users with a fantastic new interface, but still delivering poor quality data or workflows that don’t match the business need, sends the wrong message.
  2. Create a new Visualfiles 2014 test environment using a copy of your live database. This is straightforward if you’re migrating from old versions of Visualfiles and mostly automated if you’re coming from SolCase.
  3. Test, test, test!
  4. Educate the users on what to expect. Whilst Visualfiles 2014 has a new, very intuitive Microsoft Office style interface, it is worth providing a brief overview of what to expect – maybe an online video, or simple one-page idiot’s guide. There are a number of Visualfiles 2014 user videos in the Product Education section on the Enterprise Solutions support site.
  5. Do it again for real!

The testing step is often ‘the testing step’! How do you decide what to test and how? If it’s any comfort, we have the same challenges within LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions. To help, we have a structured risk assessment process. For every new release we ‘score’ the Visualfiles modules against ‘importance’ and ‘risk’ criteria related to the upgrade, to give a risk rating for each module. Using this rating we identify the key areas and focus first on testing the modules that are high risk.

With the benefits of Visualfiles 2014 over previous software, and the exciting plans we’ll be sharing at February’s Tech Ed, don’t let worries about upgrading stop you from moving forward!

Tags: Visualfiles

About the Author:

Nigel Williams is widely experienced in technical, managerial and consultancy roles in public and private organisations, with particular expertise in the UK legal sector - from both client and supplier perspectives.

He has run IT in a number of law firms, and has worked with Visualfiles since it was first introduced. In his role as the Visualfiles Product Manager he has primary responsibility for setting future direction.

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