Many law firms think of IT as a cost of doing business rather than a strategic investment. As a result, their approach to IT tends to be reactive in nature. When problems occur, such as when the system repeatedly crashes or attorneys cannot access files remotely, the IT team troubleshoots and makes necessary adjustments – until the next issue arises. On the flip side, law firms that think of IT as a strategic investment take a proactive approach to IT. They strategically align their IT infrastructure and applications to support the way their firm operates now and will operate in the future – and reap the benefits of more efficient, secure operations.
Decide What You Want To Accomplish
Before you can plan your IT, you need a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. As a professional service provider in a competitive environment, your law firm undoubtedly wants to provide your clients with high-value service. Not only do clients expect their attorneys to solve their problems, but they also require deep expertise in the attorney’s practice area, responsive service, and accessibility – all for a competitive rate. Technology is a set of tools that can help your firm to efficiently meet and exceed clients’ expectations. By strategically planning what you want to accomplish and involving your IT team – whether internal or external – in these discussions, you can plan technology solutions to enable these objectives.
Invest in Necessary Infrastructure
When your firm is aligned with your IT team, the IT professionals can counsel you on the infrastructure needed to efficiently support the way your firm works. Infrastructure, which includes everything from your PCs and desktops to cloud systems and end points, can be thought of as the roads and bridges on which your applications run. If your infrastructure does not function well, it will not matter how wonderful your applications are; employees will not be able to access the data they need to perform their work efficiently and respond to client requests in a timely manner. Productivity and client satisfaction will decline. The right infrastructure is especially important now that more law firms have adopted flexible work environments. IT must allow attorneys and staff to access all of their systems and files the same way they can from in the office and perform their work securely regardless of their location and device. If you have not invested in the necessary infrastructure to support a hybrid workplace, you are essentially saying you will accept lower productivity when working outside the office.
Choose Applications that Support Your Goals
Your IT partner can help you determine the best tools to streamline your operations and better serve your clients. For optimal results, include the people who will be using the applications in these strategy sessions. Applications to consider include collaboration tools like cloud-based law practice management software, which allows multiple users to access the same information from a central place no matter where they are working. CRM (customer relationship management) software allows you to store customer and prospect data in one place and efficiently manage leads and customer relationships. Automating tools, such as using time and billing software, help to cut down on mundane, time-consuming tasks, allowing staff to concentrate on higher-order responsibilities. Fully integrating your systems can allow your firm to realize efficiencies, since data will only need to be input once and team members can seamlessly share information across multiple platforms.
Knows How to Use the Tools
When implementing a new application, many law firms make the mistake of providing introductory training and then letting staff figure the rest out. Follow-up training is essential to ensure team members know how to use the applications, and that they are using them beyond just the basic functions. A strategic partnership between your law firm and your IT partner can help ensure your firm fully takes advantage of applications to further streamline operations. This includes upgrading your applications when new versions become available and making sure employees are trained on any new functionality. Many law firms use only 30 to 40 percent of their applications’ full capability, largely because of insufficient training.
Focus on Security
Given the importance of client confidentiality, law firms are very concerned about security. In fact, security is the top IT concern for many law firm decision makers. However, firm leaders are often unsure of the risks they face, and many law firm IT systems are not sufficiently protected. If you sat down with your IT team a year or two ago and were assured your system was safe, it may not be the case today. Risks are constantly evolving, and security is an ongoing issue; your investment cannot be a one-and-done. Keep in mind that changes to your business can also impact your security risks. When you take on new clients or clients in new industries, for instance, they may bring new security needs and risks to your table. By discussing potential new risks with your IT team, you can proactively plan how to mitigate them.
Tabush Group is a leading provider of Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and Managed IT services and a strategic IT partner for small and midsize law firms. To learn more about how our state-of-the-art IT solutions can make your firm’s operations more efficient and secure, contact us.