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Technology: Out with the old

Every Issue

Cite as: December 2015 89 (12) LIJ, p.76

Keep your staff efficient and your practice productive. 

Tips
  • Don’t hang on to old technology.
  • Update your photocopiers and multi-function devices every few years.
  • Talk to your IT services provider to undertake a technology audit.
  • Most principals and practice managers know that in order to maximise productivity for their firm they need to have the right technology in place. Having old technology is not only unproductive, it is also costly in terms of support costs and potential down time when it fails and needs attention. You can check to see how productive and efficient your firm is by looking at the following areas.

    How old are your computers?

    Generally speaking, computers have a three to four year life and like all technology, the older your computer the more it will cost you. With the move away from spinning hard disk drives to solid state hard disk drives, simply turning on your computer and opening applications is much faster with new technology. Consider this – 36 per cent of small businesses use PCs that are more than four years old, costing an average of 42 lost hours work per year.1 Add this up per fee earner and see how much potential your firm may be losing by hanging on to old technology.

    Mobility

    How productive are your staff when they are out of the office – particularly fee earners? These staff members need to be able to access and respond to emails, update on current matters and liaise with clients and staff throughout their working day – whether they are in the office or not. We have seen the introduction of tablets with the full processing power of a normal computer but without the bulk and weight, offering an alternative to the traditional laptop. They are lightweight, powerful and include all of your desktop software which means you can work as normal while not in the office. Further, docking stations enable these devices to be connected to a larger monitor (or two) in the office and home environment giving true meaning to mobility and removing the need for both a PC and a laptop.

    If it’s not broken why fix it?

    There are other areas in a firm that are often overlooked because they continue to work day in day out, but a closer look at these functions could see you more efficient and productive at a lower cost.

    Printing

    How old are your photocopiers and multi-function devices? While these machines are generally very robust and could serve your purposes for five years or longer, a look at your workflows and associated cost structures is recommended around the three to four year mark. There are also workflows specific to legal work including cost recovery and “scan-to” technology that allows you to scan directly to your matters. This simple scanning step helps alleviate the time consuming process of scanning to email, renaming and then attaching to relevant matters.

    Telephones

    Having a communication system that offers PABX functionality, conference and teleconference and outlook integration is important for team collaboration – particularly for those staff members working out of the office. Again, looking at the age and cost structure of your systems is worthwhile as new telephony solutions not only offer increased functionality but at lower costs than traditional PABX systems and often include unlimited calls.

    Multiple suppliers

    Law firms often work with a multitude of providers for these services. These items would have been procured at different times leaving the management of these contracts an administration headache. Where possible, consolidating these services through a full services IT provider will not only streamline the whole process but will help to develop a meaningful strategy for the future.

    Having a good look at your firm’s technology infrastructure is important for your business. A proper technology road map will enable your staff to be more productive and efficient and it can make a real difference to the bottom line. Ask your IT services provider to undertake a technology audit to highlight any areas where your firm could be more efficient.

    Angela Johnston is Victorian regional manager of BOAB IT. 1. See www.intel.com.au/content/www/au/en/small-business/kochies-business-builders.html.

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