Characteristics of a Weak IT Support System

February 19

There is no doubt that technology has changed the way lawyers and law firms now operate. As clients continue to demand more value for less fees,  law firms will continue to use technology to help them stand above the rest.  To ensure that your firm’s IT support system is helping you attain  future profits and success, make sure it isn’t exhibiting any of the characteristics described below.  


6 Characteristics of a Weak IT Support System:


1. Expensive and Unresponsive Systems


IT collectively (hardware and applications) is an incredible tool. It is also a tool that can significantly disrupt productive workflows. IT is an incremental expense that is rarely associated with a long term strategy. Firms who do not connect their IT to a larger market responsive strategy end up with expensive and unresponsive systems that can actually hurt productivity and profitability. 


2. High Technology Cost Per User


The best cost measurement statistics relate to Cost Per User or as it is often referred to as Cost Per Seat. The difficult part of this calculation is the process of aggregating all of a firm’s IT and Related expenditures. The total IT spend is then divided numbers of users on the firm’s system. It is not unusual to encounter the highest cost per user in firms who also rate their systems as unresponsive. Firms with a weak IT strategy spend money needlessly or in the wrong areas.


3. Limited Application Capability


Firms suffering from unresponsive systems, typically suffer from limited capability related to the limitations of their practice management applications and from insufficient training and processes for their existing systems. Firms who struggle with IT related issues can mistakenly believe their IT systems and vendors are at fault, when the issue relates more to IT strategy, in-house competence levels, and application limitations. 


4. IT Reliability Issues


In today's mobile world, IT has never been more reliable. Almost all email applications are hosted in world-class servers that virtually never go down. Many firms, especially those struggling with reliability, have not taken advantage of the cloud offerings available today. Many are chained to their legacy systems and the vendors who service them. However, yesterday’s legacy software was not created to meet the needs of most modern law firms.  


Another common mistake is turning exclusively to IT people to solve the firm’s IT problems.  Most IT people are very good, and they are even better when they understand what you are trying to accomplish in practical terms. Firms with weak IT strategies define their technology in limited, technical terms (servers, routers, and personal computers) rather than how they need technology to help them serve clients. 


5. High Support Staff Costs


A symptom of a weak IT support system is an expensive administrative staffing structure. Rather than fix their IT, many firms choose to add staff and manual processes. Firm using this approach may actually deliver high quality service, but at unsustainable cost levels. Clients will not pay for inefficient cost structures, and even if they do, earnings will suffer. If everyone else is automating, firms employing a manual approach will soon fall behind. 


6. Expensive Manual Systems 


Manual systems are expensive and difficult to maintain. They rely heavily on the experience and knowledge of those who maintain them. As this knowledge is more concentrated in relatively few people, it is difficult to scale these systems. Salary costs and risk increases. Some firms attempt to overcome this with how to manuals, checklists, and procedures documentation, but all this is hard to maintain. Automated systems build logic, process and procedures into the systems. Many of these systems can capture improvements during processing, force compliance, and promote consistency. Firms that rely on expensive manual systems cannot keep up in an automated world.  


PerformLaw Can Help.


Today’s intense competition for legal work requires law firms to invest in upport systems - technology support being one of these.  PerformLaw can evaluate your firm’s current situation and provide help to eliminate the roadblocks impeding your firm from longterm survival.