Common IT challenges for fast-growing law firms
Extended periods of rapid growth are positive for most businesses, including law firms, as it means that the business is acquiring new customers, which is driving increased revenue and better business outcomes. Whilst these periods are exciting and necessary for the longevity of a business, it also creates a host of new challenges, especially regarding IT and technology.
An Oxford University report commission by the UK Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) saw 55% of UK law firms surveyed improving or increasing their use of technology, with over one-third of the surveyed firms introducing new technology.
In this article we will delve into 6 common IT challenges for fast-growing law firms, and how they can be solved with the help of a trusted third-party IT provider.
Budgeting for Scaling Up
As firms grow, they will also need their IT systems to grow with them, including everything from software licenses to cloud servers. If they are not careful, their IT spend can get out of control, leaving them with a large invoice, exceeding their budget and eating into their profit margin.
If a firm partners with a third-party IT provider, the provider will typically be able to give a simple monthly cost per user, with everything included for the end-user and back-end set-up. IT providers can also proactively forecast the cost of larger projects, and the associated ongoing fees, making it easier for businesses to stick to their IT budget.
Compliance is an ever-changing landscape, but law firms must make sure they are up to date. Despite the publicity over the forth-coming GDPR laws, if a law firm is fully compliant with the Data Protection Act, they will have minimal work to be GDPR compliant. One of the main changes will be that all firms will be obliged to report any data breaches and, if they are non-compliant, they face massive fines.
Receiving Adequate IT Support
As businesses grow, they have different requirements regarding IT infrastructure, as well as IT support. For firms that already have an internal IT department, during periods of rapid growth, the team typically is forced to dedicate their time to research, implementing and deploying new systems to support the growth. This results in less time dedicated to actioning support tickets which can decrease productivity within other departments and slow business growth.
If businesses involve a third-party IT provider like Blue Car Technologies, they can either outsource the implementation of modern technologies or outsource their support desk. This gives IT departments more time to do what they do best to support the continued growth of the business.
Onboarding New Employees
Hiring new employees on short notice is always a challenge. However, this is only made more difficult due to the current chip shortage as hardware procurement can be a lengthy process, and even if a business already has the device, it still needs to be reimaged and set up for the employee. If onboarding is not a smooth experience it can give new hires a poor first impression of the firm, leading to increased churn.
A trusted third-party IT provider can assist with the onboarding of new employees through the procurement and deployment of new devices. This ensures that every employee, from legal assistants to lawyers, receive the right equipment and it is ready to use from day one.
As money becomes tight, many law firms choose to battle on with older hardware, even when it becomes inefficient and unreliable… under the misguided notion that by not replacing it, they are saving money.
The direct costs of hardware are typically calculated over a five-year lifespan; companies that do not replace equipment after that may think they are saving money, but the costs are still there, albeit less visible. Law firms that keep inefficient hardware will continue to pay for it in the form of inefficiencies which impact on user time – when the technology slows down, it erodes the billable hours lawyers can charge for.
Safeguarding Against Cyberthreats
The increase in cybercrime, hacking and ransomware attacks has increased both insurance rates and concerns for law firms and lead to issues for firms seeking to deploy technology in their practices.
Whilst most cyberattacks that we hear about in the news are high profile multi-national enterprises, small businesses and fast-growing start-ups are just as likely to be targeted.
This is due to the fact that cybercriminals view smaller companies as easy targets as they typically have invested less in security. If a business does get attacked, not only can it harm their reputation, but it can also lead to significant downtime as the attack is remediated.
Keeping client data protected
More and more clients are becoming aware of the risks involved with having their confidential information reside on an attorney’s unprotected computer. Creating protection policies that keep client data secure is easy to do with the right tools, but practically impossible if things aren’t set up correctly.
This challenge can be solved by investing in a comprehensive security solution. Such a solution typically includes multiple layers of defence to ensure that even if a hacker gets through one layer, there are still many more to stop them from accessing confidential data. Most security solutions also include backup and disaster recovery functionality to ensure swift recovery after an attack.
Lacking Capital Expenditure
The key barrier to firms deploying legal technology software or solutions has been lack of capital.
In the initial stages of rapid growth, law firms may not have sufficient liquid cash to invest in upgrading IT systems to support the growth.
This is particularly true for infrastructure such as servers, which require a significant capital investment. Thankfully, with the rise of cloud servers, businesses can move away from capital expenses and move to operational expenses, as there is no upfront investment, but businesses only need to pay for what they use.
An IT provider can not only help with the implementation and deployment of cloud servers but also use some of the built-in cost management features to ensure the business gets the most value from their cloud investment.
Managing Customer Relationships
Whilst small firms can typically get away with using spreadsheets to store customer relationship information, this is not feasible once they reach a certain size. This can be solved through the implementation of a customer relationship management solution, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365. As the implementation of such a solution is not a quick process, law firms should invest in a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution early, to be prepared for their continued growth.
How we can help
To find out more about how the bespoke software development, integration and support service we offer to law firms to assist you with these challenges, contact us today.