Allens breaks new ground implementing iManage and RAVN with Phoenix

Allens is one of Australia’s Top 10 commercial law firms, with over 1,400 legal and business professionals across eighttenoffices in Australia and Asia. Its global alliance with Linklaters enables the firm to deliver an integrated service to a growing international client base which includes 55 of the world’s top 100 companies.

The Challenge: a new document management system

Allens’ lawyers and business professionals have long relied on their on-premises document management system (DMS) and appreciate its value. After almost 20 years, the system was outdated, inflexible, nearing end of life and the team had lost confidence in the systems’ functions. After an extensive analysis process, Allens’ CIO, Bill Tanner, decided to migrate Allens’ large international user community to a brand-new platform.

“While we didn’t need to reinforce why we needed a DMS or email filing, we were looking for a modern tool, with a consistent and usable interface, that would support the latest best practices and help us extract further value from our resources.”

Recognising that replacing one of the firm’s core systems was a business-critical undertaking, Tanner brought in Phoenix Business Solutions, who specialise in large and complex digital transformation projects.

Phoenix has proven methodologies for each milestone of the project including planning and design through technical implementation, data migration, systems and process integration and support.

“We chose Phoenix as our strategic implementation partner and involved them from the outset. They understood our requirements and we benefited from their extensive experience in successfully managing these kinds of large-scale implementations.”

Extensive market analysis and a detailed RFP process identified iManage as the best solution for Allens’ requirements, including a combination of advanced functionality and a sharp focus on the legal sector.

“Many lawyers and IT staff joining the firm had previously used iManage and we were able to leverage their insights to help our decisionmaking process,” explained Tanner, adding that familiarity with one of the firm’s core systems would be an advantage, ensuring the majority of lateral hires could hit the ground running unlike their previous system.

Planning a massive data migration

The Allens project was one of the largest data migrations in the southern hemisphere, involving around 100 million documents.

Data migration on a major scale can be a business risk for any knowledge business, Allens was supported by Phoenix’s skill and experience, particularly their data migration experts with extensive knowledge working with legacy DM systems to reduce this risk.

“Once we selected iManage, Phoenix created a plan, which enabled us to begin resourcing the project, creating rules and setting milestones.”

The first phase involved migration of 60 million documents into 550,000 digital matters. This comprised over 20 terabytes of data from eight offices. Ten legacy databases were reduced to two and 1,100 laptops were reimaged in a single weekend to make the rollout happen in a short timeframe. The Phoenix team were able to capture and interpret the unique migration requirements and manage the process from development right through to implementation and validation with a high level of accuracy, which gave the Allens’ team a lot of confidence. 

For such a large, complex project, the timeframe was tight. Tanner explained that this scale of project would usually take at least 18 months, but Allens’ highly focused team supported by Phoenix’s deep expertise and experience were able to complete the project, from procurement to go live, in less than a year.

To go-live and beyond After the system had been tested thoroughly by a pilot group of power users Allens and Phoenix led a ‘big bang’ implementation (as Tanner described it) for the firm’s Australian offices over a single weekend. The following Monday morning, all users had brand new laptops, a new DMS, an upgraded Office Productivity Suite and access to all their documents and emails.

Phoenix played a significant role in managing the transition. “Phoenix trained the IT group and ran role-based training prior to the launch weekend. Immediately after the go-live, the entire IT group walked the floors to ensure everyone could do their work using the new system. Phoenix support staff and engineers remained on-site for the first week after go-live providing deeper product and technical expertise. They instigated a clear process for logging issues and making sure they were addressed straight away,” added Tanner.

Timing was critical. The Phoenix and Allens teams worked diligently to meet the November go-live deadline. Had this not been met, the go-live would have been delayed until the following February.

Due to the volume of data to be migrated, Phoenix identified that Allens would benefit from implementing iManage RAVN, an artificial intelligence tool to identify information, understand the structure of the documents and classify the data for improved future search outcomes. “Allens was breaking new ground” says Tanner “the iManage RAVN team hadn’t designed configurations for a site of our size, so we leveraged all the expertise and experience from Phoenix and iManage and received excellent advice for applying RAVN search indexing to the core iManage Work system”. Despite the challenges, Phoenix and the iManage team were able to implement a stable and reliable search platform servicing over 1,400 professionals. Allens became the world’s first site running iManage 10 at the client and RAVN for search.

Results post-implementation The immediate results were faster, more intuitive search/usability and better access to content across the board. The new DMS using the Work 10 interface also provides a faster experience for Allens’ remote offices, who often suffered from bandwidth issues.

“We previously had to replicate our data into a data centre based in Asia for our Asian offices, but now they are connecting to our Australian data centre and they have experienced a noticeable performance improvement. The iManage architecture facilitates flexible working and it has helped to streamline consistent email management practices throughout the firm. Because we chose a browser interface, users have the same experience using iManage on their mobile phone as they do on their laptop, which reinforces best practices across the board.”

Finally, Allens rolled out Security Policy Manager (SPM), iManage’s ethical wall solution, a tool used to secure matters and create boundaries between matters. “During our first year with iManage, more than half our support calls related to managing confidential matter requests and group changes. Following the roll-out of SPM, those calls zeroed out as Partners or team compliance officers are able to modify the security of matters themselves, rather than contacting the support team, because the user experience is so straightforward and well designed. SPM reduces the time that it takes to implement an ethical wall and synchronises policy across the DMS and the practice management system in real time. This is an important move forward in terms of productivity, security and risk mitigation.”

Phoenix has been a 'perfect fit' for Allens and the technical teams quickly developed a mutual understanding and respect, which led to a stronger sense of team and more collaboration. “We were able to allocate work effectively and people jumped in and got the job done. We had productive conversations and advised each other on the best approaches. We understood each other’s perspectives and worked together towards common goals. The speed at which we were able to become a trusted working group was phenomenal, stemming largely from the leadership of the Phoenix group and their long experience in the market.” Says Tanner.

Chris Davis, Phoenix Business Solutions Director in APAC says, “We are excited to be working with Bill and his team at Allens, to help future-proof their firm by implementing the best IT infrastructure on the market”. Chris continues, “It is a mark of our breadth and depth at Phoenix to successfully advise and implement multiple iManage services to such tight timescales and it showcases how our capability with digital transformations and expertise in iManage services is unrivalled both locally and globally, with 9 of the Top 10 law firms in Australia strategically partnering with Phoenix.”

Most recent project

Bill and his team are currently working with Phoenix on the next upgrade of iManage and are developing a way of testing its new features using live data. “Phoenix has been a great contributor to the design of the new model which will help us to benefit from iManage’s newest features. This next phase will be implementation, working through the change management and adoption. Having finished off the Security Policy Manager project, we’re now jumping straight into the next project.

Article written by Chris Davis

Director of APAC