Mid-Market Report Legal Tech Column: How to Maximize the Value of Your Firm’s Cloud Solutions

Cloud adoption among law firms has increased significantly in the last five years, and even more in the last 10 months following the shift to remote work. Cloud-based solutions provide firms flexibility, predictable spend, increased agility, simplified user experience, and in many cases, significant cost savings. From a security standpoint, cloud solutions typically provide better encryption and monitoring than law firms can provide for themselves. Clients are also likely familiar with cloud-based solutions and expect the same of their lawyers. Remote access and collaboration tools are now the norm.

For firms migrating to the cloud and those that already have, it’s important to optimize your cloud solutions. Evaluate these key areas to ensure your firm receives the most value from its cloud spend.  

Scale solutions to fit evolving needs

One of the biggest benefits cloud solutions provide law firms is the elimination of the ‘server conundrum.’ When sizing your IT infrastructure, you may need to choose between overbuilding, which can lead to overspending, or rightsizing solutions and focusing on short-term needs. While overbuilding will allow for growth, if the decision to overbuild is made prematurely, the added costs and infrastructure may ultimately yield no benefit. Conversely, if a firm decides to right size its infrastructure, it may hinder the firm when growth opportunities arise. Fortunately, there is a sweet spot that can be found. Scalable cloud solutions can be easily adapted to your firm’s size and capabilities as they evolve.

The on-demand nature of the cloud makes it easy, especially for small and mid-size firms, to support business growth without expensive and time consuming changes every time a new team member is added or new clients are brought on. As your firm size and capabilities evolve, use cloud solutions to adjust resources.

If there is anything we’ve learned from this year, it’s that no one can predict the future. Agile solutions allow firms to be well positioned in any situation. Plus, the costs of cloud solutions are scalable, too. Cloud solutions are based on a per user, per month, cost structure. This means that firms will only pay for what they are using and can change users at any time at a fixed rate.

Simplify infrastructure & lower overhead

Cloud solutions also create steady and predictable IT spend. Many equity partners appreciate that the capital outlay for infrastructure lurking around the corner is gone when cloud solutions are implemented. Often, improvements to IT are delayed and guided by the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mindset. This siloed decision-making leads to an incohesive IT system and decreased efficiency. Cloud solutions allow firms to readily keep their technology current. Users can access the latest improvements in software on an ongoing basis, without a single executive committee agenda item. With cloud solutions, less is more. Since you won’t have to maintain your own servers and hardware, you can decrease spend by reducing the amount of hardware and software that needs to be purchased and maintained without the cloud.

The reduction and simplification of infrastructure and related servers and services, which previously required the attention of several administrators with different specialties, is removed with cloud solutions. After implementing cloud solutions, you’ll have a decreased need for IT staff and can, in turn, reduce overall IT costs.

To continue to lower costs once cloud solutions are in place, law firms can streamline cloud operations by using tools like Microsoft Teams as part of Microsoft 365. These types of comprehensive SaaS programs can also increase team productivity and collaboration capabilities.   

Train to improve user experience

One of the most overlooked but impactful improvements created by cloud solutions is the consistent, simplified, user experience. The elimination of the “remote access” procedure, and required infrastructure, that comes with its own hoops to jump through, such as VPN connection and/or remote desktop sessions, is the ultimate benefit. Cloud solutions can be accessed from anywhere on any device with an internet connection: from the office, home, at a deposition, or even from the beach.

To optimize the cloud solution user experience, it is critical to train. The benefit of training on cloud solutions is that instruction is necessitated for only one system. To effectively execute training, plan the training session(s) well in advance and make them mandatory for all firm members and staff. Depending on the size of your firm and variance of positions, consider holding multiple sessions and break them down by position or expertise. Allow your team to practice what they learn on real or sample work during the training session to apply and reinforce the new skills.

Gulam Zade is the CEO of LOGICFORCE, a legal technology consultancy that serves law firms across the country.

Reprinted with permission from the 12/14/20 issue of Mid-Market Report. © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.  All rights reserved.

Read the original article here: https://www.law.com/mid-market-report/2020/12/14/how-to-maximize-the-value-of-your-firms-cloud-solutions/

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