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Four Tips for a Successful CMS Implementation

Implementing a new court case management system (CMS) is a huge task. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to ensure your implementation has the best chance for success.  

1. Establish a Clear Mission and Vision 

Before starting to implement a new CMS, it’s essential to establish a mission and vision accompanied by well-defined goals and objectives. Not only does this help inform strategy and planning during the implementation project, but it’s also an important part of ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned. Organization-wide support of the project mission and goals is key. Without it, not all departments are going to develop and execute strategies that support the project objectives. 

Encourage all staff to be actively engaged in the project. They should speak up when they don’t feel like all departments are aligned or when a strategy isn’t on track to help reach one of the project goals. If your staff are passionate about the vision and aligned with the end goal, the project will go much smoother. 

2. Appoint a Project Champion 

Aside from establishing a clear mission and vision, one of the most important things a court can do is appoint a project champion to their implementation project. This person should act as a dedicated project manager and work closely with stakeholders and staff to plan and manage the project until the end. However, selecting an existing court staff member with other job responsibilities can be detrimental to the project.  

To give a CMS implementation the best chance for success, you need a project manager who can focus on the project and give it the attention it really needs. Additionally, court staff should be engaged in the project and acting as subject matter experts (SMEs) to validate data during the conversion, learning, and testing the new system.  

3. Be Realistic About Resource Capacity  

When selecting your project manager and establishing a project timeline, be realistic about your court’s resource capacity. The project manager will need to dedicate most of their time to the implementation project, and SMEs (aka court staff) will need to help gather, define, review, and approve requirements for development. Also, SMEs will need to help define the court’s specific business processes and workflows to drive configuration, data conversion, and test phases of the project implementation.  

Implementing a new CMS is an iterative process. Each part of the project impacts every other activity, including your go-live date. It’s important to recognize the amount of commitment required for both the implementation project and your staff’s daily responsibilities. Once you’ve accounted for both, you can work with your vendor to set a realistic project timeline.  

4. Partner With an Experienced and Successful Vendor 

While it’s crucial for your staff to be actively engaged and committed to the implementation project, selecting a vendor who has demonstrated success with similar projects is another important piece of the puzzle. Keep in mind that every CMS vendor will have had both successful and challenging implementations. However, you can ask some key questions to vet the vendor and help your court choose the right partner for you. A couple of suggested questions include: 

  1. Can you tell me about a successful implementation you’ve had as well as a challenging/failed implementation? 
  2. How do you plan to lead the implementation project? What will you do/recommend when issues arise that could impact the project budget or schedule? 

Asking questions like this can give your court a real sense of how the vendor does business and what they bring to the table regarding experience and overall qualifications. But perhaps more importantly, your court can get insight into the vendor’s culture, commitment, integrity, and transparency. Establishing trust with the vendor you will work with is the foundation of a successful partnership.  

Even though implementing a new CMS is a significant commitment, you can set your court up for long-term success. If you’re considering implementing a new CMS and have additional questions about the process, contact us