How your firm should be thinking about IT


Information Technology is changing rapidly and many parts of it are fast becoming a service rather than a function. Given that IT spend for most firms is likely their second or third largest cost, behind staff and premises, firms need to ensure they are taking advantage of this shift.


Constant evolution

IT can be considered much like my grandfathers axe.  He may claim to have been using that axe for over 35 years, but in that time it has had two new handles and a new head.  The point is that IT continues to change, it is not what it was 10 or even 5 years ago, so reassessing the approach to IT is important if a firm expects to be doing things in the most efficient and effective manner.


Treading water

In short, your firm should be aiming to use technology in place of maintaining it.  A Chilli IQ LawTech survey conducted just last year, illustrated that most internal IT teams were spending upward of 65% of their time just on keeping IT systems running.  For those in IT tasked with patching, upgrading and general maintenance of on-site IT systems, this will come as no surprise, yet for others within the firm, I suspect this overhead is rarely considered or ever quantified.  Despite all of the efforts, late nights and weekend work that goes into maintaining systems, if this work is done exceptionally well and no problems are encountered, it goes completely unnoticed.


Making it count

The value that your IT staff can provide goes far beyond undertaking maintenance tasks that can typically be done by IT providers.  The real value your staff can be providing you is applying the firms operational and strategic goals, to ensure your IT systems and how your people use them are aligned.

Freeing up the time of your staff to focus on improvements, allows you to achieve more of the IT projects that are important, such as improving efficiencies or better yet, helping to drive revenue.  Using one of many specialist IT providers or managed cloud based software, can result in your systems being more reliable.  This is often the case because those providers typically have large teams of dedicated specialists focused on maintaining system availability, rather than being assigned to broad mix of tasks as if often the case internally.

Smaller firms more easily identify the benefits of removing IT maintenance overheads.  Because smaller firms have traditionally been paying external IT companies to do their system maintenance for them, the associated costs are more transparent than they would be for a firm with in-house employees to do that work.



What IT can deliver has never been more important to law firms, so it is critical not to let the technology itself take the focus ahead of the purpose it is there to serve.



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.