Outsourcing isn’t a new concept. It’s been utilised pretty consistently over the years by many different industries, allowing businesses to access high-quality and consistent services they can’t cost-effectively recreate inhouse.
Recently, larger law firms have been hopping on the outsourcing bandwagon in great numbers, with some recent studies showing that well over 50% of larger firms are outsourcing at least one service.
While there are multiple services that can and are being handed over to specialists to run (including security, admin, and HR), the big one is technology – predominantly IT systems and infrastructure. Large firms with largescale IT needs are boosting efficiency, increasing service quality, and ultimately lowering costs by outsourcing part or all of the IT functions.
Outsourcing is not just for the big players, though. While it can offer large business benefits for big firms, the growth in demand for outsourcing is proving advantageous for smaller and mid-sized firms as well. And when utilised well, can act as a great equalizer.
The challenge of maintaining quality in-house services
The driving force for many bigger companies looking to gain an advantage by outsourcing is productivity. For big-time firms, outsourcing even just one service can make a difference of hours of freed up time every week for every team member.
While it’s never been effortless to internally manage all business services, it’s recently become even harder. Business needs have changed, technology has advanced, and competition continues to become fiercer.
These changes are increasingly being felt by law firms of all sizes. Internally managed and staffed services are increasingly creating problems for firms:
- There is an overwhelming amount of time that goes into managing individual businesses services, and many firms will have several. Managing them all takes away time that should be focused on practicing law.
- Hiring quality internal talent is becoming harder, and smaller firms or those with fewer resources aren’t able to compete for the best specialist staff
- Relying on one dedicated in-house specialist, or a key-man risk, means placing all knowledge in one person. If that person doesn’t have the breadth of knowledge and experience the firm needs, if they leave, or if they don’t have the capacity to deliver the same service as the firm grows, service function will be seriously compromised.
More law firms are finding themselves among a growing number of businesses looking for higher quality and more time and cost-effective ways of managing their essential business services.
The right approach can add value to your business
While the growing trend will no doubt change aspects of the industry and how some things are done, simply outsourcing your services just because other firms are isn’t going to guarantee you added value.
If your internal services are working well as they are – not costing you more, not interrupting your workday, not inhibiting your growth – it would be worth considering the worth of changing your processes.
However, more and more firms are finding that they are being held back by one or more of their internal processes. One particular area of concern is IT, which is why it is currently the most popular function being outsourced by law firms.
Over the last 20 years, both how law firms use technology and the technology available to them have changed immensely – and quickly. Many firms are starting to realise the way they manage their IT needs to be changed to keep up.
The recent disruption that we have all felt has forced many firms to reassess how they run, and if their processes are set up efficiently – and cost-effectively. You need to ensure your IT setup is allowing you to:
Keep up with competition
The legal industry is becoming increasingly crowded, with firms having to compete not only with their equals, but with businesses that are larger and growing more quickly. Does your IT talent, services and capabilities match that of your competitors? Are you experiencing more IT problems or spending more on upkeep? Keeping up with what’s happening – or getting there ahead of the pack – can be worthwhile.
Give yourself room to grow
You want to be sure you’re investing in the growth and performance of your business – not spending all your time and money trying to make your IT system work. You need to ensure your IT is being taken care of fully, so you can have full attention on business growth, performance and talent, and better support your clients.
Remain efficient through constant (and sometimes unforeseen) changes
It’s not enough to have your IT working well when everything is running normally. As workplaces and work environments change, efficiency needs to be maintained regardless of circumstance. You should be able to make changes to staff, hire more staff, embrace remote working, and implement new technology without it affecting (or being affected by) your IT.
Outsourced IT can give you the edge
Outsourcing is a solution many are turning to in order to meet the changing needs of their firm and better prepare themselves for future changes.
The competition for high-quality talent continues to grow, to the point where law firms can’t compete with specialist industries for top talent. Firms are navigating around this issue by partnering with these industries to deliver what they need through outsourcing. If the best is available, why wouldn’t you utilise them?
As an incredibly specialised (and constantly changing and growing) industry, IT can be especially beneficial to outsource, giving firms the ability to:
- Match the capabilities and services of bigger firms, without the need for extra staff or bigger office space, and potentially even restructure the internal team.
- Control operating costs by removing the fluctuations and having known costs
- Reduce infrastructure and gain access to better systems
- Customise support for when and where you need it
- Not have to worry about managing and upskilling another in-house department
- Minimise disruptions to the broader team
Of course, there is always risk involved when you hand off responsibility to someone else. Finding the right provider and partner is an important step in achieving successful outsourcing. Your provider needs to match your values, be specialised in their field, have the flexibility to support your firm through changes and growth.