June 26th, 2009 by The Clio Team
One of the biggest and most important questions around moving to Software-as-a-Service (or any new software platform) is: “what happens to my existing data?”
Prospective subscribers considering migrating to a legal SaaS platform may want to bring over data from any number of existing products:
- Contacts and calendars from Microsoft Outlook
- Matters and clients from Amicus Attorney, Time Matters, Amicus Attorney, or Abacus
- Financial data from QuickBooks
- Project lists from Daylight
- Calendars from Google Calendar
- Lists of matters and clients from Microsoft Excel
In many cases users may have years worth of data stored in one of the above systems, and the thought of manually re-entering this information is enough to make them feel stuck with their existing solution. For this reason, most attorneys and staff considering a switch to a SaaS solution want to ensure that their existing data can be migrated over to a new system. Luckily, Data Migration makes this transition possible. Virtually every program (even programs written 20 years ago!) can export data in at least one of the following plain-text, human-readable export formats:
- CSV (Comma-Separated Values)
- XML (Extensible Markup Language)
Both of the above formats are extremely flexible and platform neutral, meaning its possible to subsequently transform and import the data into a new software system, SaaS or otherwise.
However, this process isn’t always trivial, as the way one software description describes, say, a Contact, isn’t necessarily the same as another. This discrepancy is resolved via a process called Data Mapping, where fields from the application being migrated from are mapped to the fields of the application being migrated to.
To provide a concrete example, consider the migration from Microsoft Outlook to Clio: Outlook stores contacts in a slightly different format than Clio, so in migrating our user’s data from Outlook to Clio, we’ve created an automatic routine for mapping data from Outlook’s format to Clio’s:
With this field mapping in place, it is now easy to automatically import thousands of contacts, matters, calendar dates, and tasks from Outlook (or a variety of other programs) directly into Clio.
With the help of Data Migration, it’s easy to automatically transfer large volumes of data from traditional desktop applications to Software-as-a-Service applications.