All law firms rely on computers and other technology in order to maintain effective day-to-day business operations. Unfortunately, most law practices cannot afford to have a designated in-house IT department to take care of immediate issues that arise, answer support questions for employees, and perform general maintenance on the hardware and software that keeps operations running smoothly.
When a problem arises, an attorney will typically reach out to a technical support company, local IT guy, or IT firm.
What Are “Managed IT Services”?
There are two ways most IT firms provide service: the “Break-Fix” route OR the “Managed IT Service” route:
1) The “Break-Fix” route is when something is broken, a technician arrives on-site to fix it. They track their time and materials during the repair process. Often, a close business relationship between the two parties is never established — the technician may not be familiar with all of the intricacies and scope of the law firm’s IT needs, resulting in misguided support, data security compliance failures, and even more billable time to resolve it. All the while the legal practice is suffering a loss in productivity, as the staff members affected by the outage experience downtime and cannot perform their jobs as effectively without their working equipment.
This issue is a side-effect of even the most proficient technician under the “Break-Fix” model. Depending on the employee’s role in the law practice, this downtime could lead to missed opportunities, lower productivity, and necessary overtime in order to meet deadlines – all of which cost the attorney money. A seemingly simple IT outage can add up to be a large, unexpected expense very quickly.
2) The “Managed IT Service” route is when an IT firm manages basically all aspects of your current IT setup, including computers, servers, network, antivirus, backup solutions, firewalls, etc.
Some very simple tried and true best practices include:
- Regular maintenance prolongs the usability and performance of computer systems.
- Security patches and software updates protect the network from many threats and issues.
- Remote technical support can reduce support costs by eliminating transportation for most issues.
- Proactive monitoring and early detection can pinpoint issues for resolution before they cause downtime.
- Thorough documentation and network maps give technicians a precise overview of a law firm’s IT needs even the event of special cases and intricacies and streamline support visits.
- Reporting and tracking can segregate troublesome devices for replacement.
IT firms adopt the above managed IT service methods in order to provide much higher quality service for their customers. The relationship is much more of a partnership and although it creates a higher expectation for the IT firm to provide stellar service, these methods also enable them to do so. As a result, they are more focused on eliminating downtime, committing to best practices with a consulting role, and being proactive instead of reactive to detect and resolve issues before they cause downtime.
What is Downtime Currently Costing Your Law Firm?
Use these two formulas below for estimating the cost of your current downtime:
Productivity Loss Formula
P = (Number of users affected) x (% of Productivity Loss) x (Average salary per hour) x (Duration of downtime)
Revenue Loss Formula
R = (Number of users affected) x (% of Revenue Loss) x (Average profit per employee per hour) x (Duration)
Overall Loss Due to Downtime
P + R = $$$
10 Benefits of Managed IT Services for Law Firms
1) Think of Managed IT Services as Outsourcing Your Internal IT Department.
It’s not uncommon for law offices to treat their network and computers much like a household appliance; when it breaks, you pay someone to fix it. Some law offices hire internal computer technicians just to keep up with problems. Managed IT is the sensible middle ground; your trusted IT provider isn’t on payroll, but they are dedicated to making sure everyone is up and running. There are plenty of benefits to this alone that can greatly increase your legal practice’s productivity and expenses.
Many small and medium-sized law firms can’t afford to staff an internal IT department to keep up with the day-to-day maintenance, issues, and technical support, let alone with managing new implementations, upgrades, and expansion.
Your Managed IT provider takes the time to get to know and document your entire IT infrastructure, your specific needs, requirements, and overall goals that your technology is driving you towards. Instead of just fixing case-by-case issues, Managed IT providers such as Encompass IT partner with law offices in order to take over all aspects of technology, from infrastructure to vendor management, maintenance to upgrades, and consulting for solutions to continue to increase productivity so that your legal practice can focus on generating revenue and growing.
In other words, you get all of the benefits of having an in-house IT department without the costs of staffing one or more dedicated employees. You get full access to professional support, goal-oriented solutions, and downtime-preventing maintenance.
2) Early Issue Detection Leads to Fewer Problems That Actually Affect the End-User.
Often, day-to-day computer issues start out as barely noticeable. Much like that tiny rattle in your car, overtime they can go from being a no-big-deal status to an overnight-in-the-shop ordeal. Managed IT providers run reporting and monitoring tools that detect issues and report back whenever a potential problem is discovered. That way, it can be fixed before it causes frustration and downtime for your employee.
Many issues can be detected early and prevented before they escalate, including:
– Hard Drive Failure Warnings
– Hard Drive Fragmentation and Disk Space Warnings
– Malware, Spyware, and Rootkit Detection
– Antivirus Updates and Issues
– Outdated Windows Updates and Service Packs
– Windows Update Failures
– Windows Licensing issues
– Duplicate Network Addresses
– Unexpected Changes in System Hardware
– CPU and Memory Issues
– Event and Error Logging
3) Remote Technical Support Reduces Overall IT Expenses with Shorter Response Times.
Many workstation issues can be solved remotely without the need for an on-site visit. When that’s the case, utilizing remote access reduces the expenses of the IT provider which are then passed on to you. This also grants faster response times since the technician doesn’t need to physically drive to your legal practice
Not all issues can be solved remotely, such as hardware issues where the PC needs a component replaced or isn’t booting, but the majority of day-to-day issues that take up your employees’ valuable time, such as errors, application issues, and support questions don’t require an on-site visit and can be resolved quickly if remote access is readily available.
Remote access is secure, and usually included in the Managed IT provider’s monitoring and maintenance toolset, making it a simple, cost effective, no-brainer addition to any small business’s IT package.
4) With a Trusted Managed IT Consultant, Your Law Firm Won’t Need to Rely on Vendor Support.
When technology fails, your first inclination is to contact the vendor to try to get as much free support as possible (or at least agreed to in your warranty). This usually includes long, pointless phone calls where you or your employees get cycled around a call center. More often than not the issue doesn’t get fixed on the first call and you are back to square one. Managed IT providers can not only handle specific hardware and software support, but handle managing your IT vendors for you.
When compared to the standard break-fix computer company, Managed IT firms deal with business-class vendors very often and often build relationships with vendors. This means things like warranty and support agreements can all be handled by your outsourced IT firm instead of by your employees, and support for specific hardware and software can be done right through your IT consultant instead of by multiple vendors. This gives you and your staff a single point of contact for all of your technical support needs.
On top of that, often Managed IT firms like Encompass IT Solutions deal with specific vendors and have access to special solutions and services that aren’t always offered to small law firms, such as bulk licensing and better support options.
5) The Break/Fix Practice Forces You to Pay When You Are Down & Already Losing Money.
IT issues can become expensive very quickly, especially when they aren’t taken care of promptly. Network and server outages can leave some or all of your employees stranded unable to do their jobs. You continue to pay them despite a huge hit to productivity and then you need to pay for the problem to get resolved.
The key element of a Managed IT Service is that you aren’t paying to have issues fixed; you are paying to have them prevented. With Managed IT, you pay to prevent downtime and maintain your expensive IT infrastructure. Regular maintenance plays a huge impact on stability, performance, security, and longevity of your network and the devices on it.
6) Flat-Rate IT Management is Easy to Budget and Reduces Hidden Costs & Promotes IT Expense Planning.
One major downfall of break-fix IT is the unexpected surprise costs that come when mission-critical technology fails and needs to be fixed. During downtime, you are already paying your employees despite a major loss of productivity, while also paying hourly fees for technical support to resolve the problem. Managed IT is based on a flat-rate payment model where you pay to prevent downtime, both greatly reducing downtime and minimizing unexpected costs.
When an expense varies greatly from month to month it can be difficult to
plan and budget accurately. With the flat-rate payment model you practically eliminate recovery costs since it is all covered under your agreement. Knowing that most issues are covered means you pay the same amount each month, and allows you to budget for new projects and expansion much easier.
Costs are also reduced because most maintenance tasks are standardized, proceduralized, and easily repeatable through automation.
7) You Get a Powerful Alignment of Your IT & Legal Practice Goals. Your Technology Works for You!
When your IT infrastructure works, it can greatly increase the productivity of your users, but what about goals specific to your law office? Your Managed IT provider serves the role of a consultant for your law firm’s development regarding how technology can drive your law firm forward. From new solutions to better internal practices, your goals can be achieved through professional management of your technology.
IT providers like Encompass IT can work with you, taking on the role of a CIO to help you establish long term implementations for your business through new solutions, security, training, and best practices that can improve your bottom line.
Your IT service provider should offer quarterly or bi-yearly reviews to provide consulting to ensure your IT solutions match your visions for your legal practice.
8) Law Firms That Manage & Outsource Their IT Properly Greatly Reduce Overall IT Expenses.
Simply put, when you take care of your IT, it breaks less. All of the benefits of managed IT naturally leads to lower costs. Network and hardware integrity is constantly being monitored and proper maintenance is ensuring the health of your IT infrastructure, which eliminates surprise costs and faster-than-normal depreciation. Early detection contributes to fewer emergencies which result in fewer tech support calls.
You get access to knowledgeable, professional support without being nickeled and dimed for each call or issue. There aren’t hourly onsite charges either. Since your outsourced IT department is accountable for your uptime, issues and emergencies are typically covered under your clearly-defined agreement.
9) Your Law Office Can Take Advantage of Enterprise-Level Solutions for Small-Business Costs.
Running a law office doesn’t mean you need to suffer from the lowest-end solutions. Enterprise-level support and solutions can be made available to your organization to give you the cutting edge in communications or to help you sleep at night with bullet-proof backup and security. When partnering with a Managed IT provider, you can get access to technology solutions that are normally reserved for big corporate enterprises at costs geared towards your budget.
10) Managed IT Services Allow Law Firms to Free up Resources & Focus on Core Business Objectives.
Standard IT operations consist of many critical, yet repetitive technical tasks that take time and experience to perform. The traditional method had no place for many of these time-consuming critical tasks due to the hourly billing that most traditional IT providers charge. This means that these standard, day-to-day tasks, such as updating and running antivirus, applying and testing Windows security patches, and monitoring the health of data backup solutions, are the responsibility of the employee or not attended to at all.
Employees should perform the tasks they were paid to do, not general IT maintenance. Just as concerning, most of these critical tasks aren’t performed properly or at all, leading to additional issues, security breaches, and costly downtime.
A Managed IT provider can easily perform these repetitive maintenance tasks through automated tools and monitoring applications that report back any issues or missing updates. Through best practices and documented procedures, these routine tasks can be performed quickly and cost-effectively without needing to take an employee offline and tasks that require the workstation to be rebooted or need resources to run scans can be scheduled for after-hours.
With Managed IT services, your staff no longer `needs to focus on keeping their workstation up-to-date with Windows updates, run disk defrags or virus scans, or waste time on PC maintenance, effectively returning precious time to your organization and allowing employees to get more done during the course of the business day.
Are Managed IT Services Right for You?
If you’re tired of focusing on solving annoying technology issues, and not focusing on your law firm, call us at (860) 785-6233 to schedule a free Managed IT consultation with Encompass IT. We’ll provide an overview of your current technology and help you figure out if Managed IT services makes sense for your law office.