If you’ve read our last couple of blogs, you will have evaluated your current IT and established exactly what you need, and if your current system is delivering it. If it’s not, you’ll be looking at buying new IT.
Whether your current set up isn’t optimised for your law firm size, isn’t working as it should be or you know there’s a better option out there, the first option is to have a serious chat with your IT provider.
If your current IT provider isn’t able to offer the services you know you need to run efficiently and competitively, it’s time to go elsewhere.
But how do you decide where to go, and ensure they deliver what you want?
There are 4 main factors to consider when it comes to buying IT for a growing law firm. Spending time on each will greatly improve your chances of buying IT that will effectively and continually meet the needs of your firm.
The do’s and do not’s of buying IT for a law firm
Changing IT providers or ‘buying IT’ can be daunting. Whether you’ve had bad experiences before, are worried about the cost or disruption or just don’t know where to start, it can be an overwhelming task.
IT is a big purchase, so you want to make sure you get it right – and only have to do it once. Achieving this comes down to four key factors that will help you get it right – but unfortunately, they are also very easy to get wrong.
I call it the ‘do’s and definitely don’ts’ of IT that, if approached correctly, can ensure that IT doesn’t get in the way of good lawyering.
Buy a Kia when you need a Lexus, or vice versa. Don’t spend a cent more than you need, but don’t buy less than you need either. Basing your choice purely off perceived value will likely see you end up with the same problems you’re having now – and will have to go through the same process all over again.
Match your budget to your expectations, needs, and the services you’re selling. What you want to achieve and the work you’re doing will greatly affect the cost of your IT.
Try to do everything at once. It could be tempting to get all your projects over in one go, but if you’re updating other systems or going through renovations, taking on too much can mean all the outcomes suffer.
Focus on one thing at a time. Putting all your energy into changing your IT service can guarantee that you get it right. Preparation and communication are key to a successful purchase and implementation – don’t let other projects get in your way.
Fall for bigger is better. Big providers work well with big law firms. They’ll take you on as a client, but their service offering is built with a certain clientele in mind – and it may not suit your needs.
Understand that change moves both ways. While your firm might eventually grow, it could also get smaller first. Ensure you engage a vendor that can cater specifically to your needs now, and grow – if and when – you do.
Assume IT can’t get better – or that it’s all the same. Sticking with a poor service because you assume changing providers won’t actually change a thing means resigning your firm to average IT – and average results.
Find a provider that speaks your language. Someone who understands your needs and your struggles. Someone who understands the ins and outs of your business applications, so they can tailor their service to your firms’ specific needs. You pick a lawyer based on their speciality knowledge – do the same for your IT.
Question your provider, not your choices
You should work out your specific firms needs in terms of each of these factors, and not compromise. If you find the right supplier, they should support all four ‘do’s’.
Finding an IT provider is like hiring a new employee. You want to be sure they’re the right fit, and asking them the right questions can give you valuable insights into their ability to adequately support your firm. You should be asking questions like:
- What does their ideal customer look like?
- How do they support that customer, and what proof do they have of that support?
- What are they good at?
- What aren’t they so good at?
- What’s their staff turnover – will you be working with new people all the time?
There’s a lot of things you need to consider, and it can be a long process – but so can being stuck with subpar IT. The right provider will provide expert knowledge and advice into the process, and should help you question what is right for you.
Hard work pays off
Ultimately, finding the right IT system and the right supplier to deliver is a big task, but comes with many rewards:
- Increased firm productivity and utilisation
- Improved efficiency and flexibility
- Business improvements directly linked to new IT
- Less time spent on IT; more time spent on business strategy
A good place to start researching IT options is with other law firms – a good recommendation can save you hours of research time and point you in the right direction.
Innessco have successfully worked with dozens of law firms across Australia, to help them achieve a specialised IT system that meets their ongoing needs.