If only your IT systems could talk…

Siri - Article

The type of conversation that could be had with your IT systems may not seem like it would be a very interesting one, until you consider what your core IT systems actually know.


Your systems know more than they let on

Buried deep inside almost all of your IT systems are records (logs) that hold tiny pieces of information that alone don’t really mean much.  Almost every system you have, has most likely been recording micro events since the day it was installed.  These include telephone, email, time and billing, CRM, website and document management systems.

These micro events alone do not provide information that is of much use. It is when these micro events are collated, put in context and considered against other events and business questions, that they can be used to provide some very interesting and useful information.


What you might talk about

Examples of the type of questions that you might ask your systems include:

“Are there documents that we regularly copy that should be set up as precedent documents?”  “Are there precedents documents that are rarely used which we continue to maintain?”


“Which individuals in our firm have the most regular email and telephone contact with a particular client organisation?”  “Who are the individuals at the client organisation that our firm has the most regular contact with?”


“When we are pitching for a significant piece of work with a new client, if I tell you their phone number or email domain, can you tell me who at our firm has regular contact with someone at that organisation?”


“How regularly do our fee earners typically record their time and is there any correlation between the frequency of time entry and fees billed and fees collected?”


“Has a decline in communication pre-empted the reduction in work received from a key client in the past?  If this is an indicator, can you tell me when there is a decline in communication for particular key clients in the future?”


“Was there an increase in the number of documents opened, printed, sent or exported in the months prior to the resignation of a staff member or partner?”  “Can you please tell me when you see a significant increase in the number of opened, printed, sent, exported or uploaded documents by any individual in the future?”


Having the conversation is easier than you think

Each of these questions and many more, can likely be answered by the systems you run today. Your systems are likely to have been capturing the relevant activity logs since you started using them.

So the truth is that your systems can talk to you in a meaningful way, if you know how to ask the question. The good news is that you do not need to invest a huge amount of time and money to collate and extract this information. It is a relatively straight forward IT reporting exercise that can typically be completed in hours or days at most, not weeks or months.


The benefits of open communication

Having this type of information can help you mitigate risk, win clients, keep clients, along with supporting a range of other operational and strategic decisions.

So if your systems could talk, I think they would start with: “I thought you would never ask…”



About the Author

Steven provides law firms with IT strategy and direction. He is passionate about assisting firms to extract more from their technology investments and discovering technology enabled opportunities. Steven presents regularly in the legal sector and contributed to the George Beaton e-book, NewLaw New Rules. He formed NextLegal in 2014 to provide law firms with greater technology insight, advice and capability.

One Comment

  1. James Sowry Says :
    Posted on 18 February, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    I agree Steve that we are surrounded by a wealth of data…..but we can make sense of very little of it. Making decisions based on data goes to the core of an effective digital organisation. Continuing your analogy, I’ve tackled the question of HOW to talk to your IT systems, even when you’re not speaking the same language. Check it out here: http://sentrian.com.au/how-to-talk-to-your-it-systems/