Improving tech provision is a huge issue for law firms. A recent PWC survey showed that all the top 10 law firms rated technology as a challenge to tackle between now and 2020.
But recognising a challenge and acting upon it are two different things. The result - too many firms still rely on outdated IT that’s no longer fit for purpose.
It’s mostly down to apathy. There’s an attitude that if a platform still works, then why change it. After all, a new system also comes with cost and disruption. Yet this ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ argument overlooks the many problems that older platforms cause, as well as the benefits of upgrading.
Here are five key signs that your legal IT platform may need replacing:
Lack of flexibility
Older systems are often server-based, meaning you need to be in the same location to be able to access and use them. Modern IT platforms, by contrast, are usually cloud-based, making them accessible from anywhere through a connected device.
Using older server-based platforms can prevent flexible working, as staff outside the office have no access to your system. This is bad for staff recruitment and retention, as the opportunity of remote working is often an attractive prospect to staff. It can also harm productivity. 89% of respondents in a recent HSBC report focusing on the technology sector (one of the UK’s most productive sectors), reported flexible working as a motivator for increased productivity.
Server-based systems are also bad for customer service. The ability to access systems and answer queries on the go will ultimately speed up your overall client response rate.
Slow speeds and bugs
IT platforms slow with age and take longer to access files and programmes – so you simply can’t get as much done in the time available with legacy systems. The actual delay may be a matter of seconds, but every day, across a whole firm, this adds up to a substantial loss of time. Resulting in a consequent hit on your productivity and billable hours.
Also, older platforms have more bugs. This hurts you in terms of time and productivity due to system crashes, and the consequent downtime while things are fixed.
An inability to integrate
An IT platform should be able to keep pace with your growth as a business and adapt as necessary. Which is why modern systems are usually integration-ready by default. Older platforms, however, may not integrate easily with new systems and add-ons, which can hamper your growth and ability to compete.
This is a definite problem in the legal sector. A recent survey found that 36% of law firms said their existing systems were neither agile nor scalable enough to support future expansion.
Vulnerability to cyber attack
According to the 2018 State of Cyber Resilience report by management consultancy giant Accenture, legacy infrastructure is one of the top threats to cyber security.
This is because older IT platforms often have a higher number of system vulnerabilities than newer versions, making them more prone to cyber crime. Also, if a solution has been around for years, criminals have had time to get familiar with its weaknesses – so attacks are more likely to succeed.
Obviously, a new IT platform is a significant investment, but the running costs of an older platform can also be extremely high.
Older services are often no longer supported and updated by the original provider, making it expensive and difficult to fix a problem when something goes wrong. Additionally, every tweak and change made can affect other parts of the system - adding a new layer of complexity to maintenance.
What’s more, the difficulty and cost of actually finding someone to maintain a dated solution will rise with its age, as the number of people available with the knowledge and inclination to deal with it inevitably reduces.
It’s vital to regularly review your IT platform to ensure you are providing your staff with an efficient system that boosts productivity. Too many firms continue with older, legacy systems simply to avoid the cost of installing a new platform – but that decision can cost far more in terms of lost time, productivity and hassle. Older systems also leave you more open to cyber attack – with all the potential financial and reputational damage that comes with it.
The fact is that improving IT platforms can drastically improve your working environment – as jobs will be completed quicker, more tasks can be automated, integrations are easier, and both security and visibility will improve.
For more information on the importance of updating IT platforms, watch the webinar with Oosha and technology provider BigHand.