By Doug Hargrove, Managing Director –Advanced – Legal and Education
As this is published, legal firms throughout the UK are facing the huge operational challenges brought about by Coronavirus and the subsequent requirement for social isolation. The Law Society is continually monitoring the situation and providing regular updates to provide information and guidance. Many of the responses posted by the Law Society point to very real concerns about job retention, the delivery of services and remote working.
We’re providing this short summary of how Cloud technology can provide business continuity in order to support the many firms who will be reviewing their options and working practices throughout the coming months.
Indications of reluctance
When our annual Trends Survey was published late in 2019, it highlighted some interesting trends that have an even higher resonance just a few short months later.
Survey respondents told us that, on average, they review their IT software and services every 17 months. Surprisingly, nine per cent said they wait three years or more. That’s a remarkable figure when you consider how quickly and significantly the landscape can change. What the results didn’t show us was whether, after identifying the challenges of their current IT software and services, businesses actually addressed them.
When we asked respondents what was holding them back from modernising key processes or systems, 52% cited either the potential disruption to staff productivity or managers remaining unconvinced about recommended investments in technology. Nearly half (48%) were also concerned about the monetary cost of change.
It’s not business as usual
Recent events have made it clear how critical easily accessible technology is to business continuity. Organisations that were deterred from transforming to digital, have found themselves unprepared for what the future has delivered, often at great disruption and expense to themselves.
Now standing centre stage is Cloud technology, the single most important factor in the sudden, unprecedented shift to remote workforces. For those who were ready, their investment is already paying the dividends of secure and consistent delivery channels for the services they provide.
The good news
It’s reassuring to know that planning for business continuity needn’t be complicated or expensive. Cloud technology enables the expedient delivery of the SaaS (Software as a Service) model. This means that business stability, with minimal business disruption to current operations, is within easy reach for many law firms.
One of the best ways for legal firms to protect their intellectual assets, valuable data, work-in-progress, and archived records, is to store and manage them from the Cloud so they can be securely accessed remotely by authorised users. This flexibility offers business agility and progression, regardless of where your staff or clients are located.
Cloud ready firms have continued to deliver high levels of client satisfaction. When unable to meet clients face-to-face, many firms are relying on Cloud platforms like Skype to hold video meetings or conferences, causing little interruption to normal working practices. Cloud solutions can also make it much easier to share matter information with clients, ending the requirement for time-consuming administration and information updates
Although events have been challenging for many law firms, perhaps being forced to reconsider a digital mind-set presents one of their greatest opportunities for future success. Moving to applications that are independent of user location can allow firms to change and adapt quickly and to gain a competitive edge.
Maximising the benefits
The benefits of Cloud technology, beyond business continuity, are well documented and include:
- Reduction of costs and resources associated with purchasing, and maintaining, a physical technical infrastructure
- Convenience of a central repository for all data, communications and processing that can be accessed by all authorised users from any location
- Scalability enables a firm’s technology platform to easily expand as the company grows
- Automatic risk management as files are backed-up and stored digitally off-premises in secure data centres
- Regulatory compliance for data with built-in record-keeping, audit trails and access permission control
- Greater protection as cloud services are constantly upgrading their security measures to meet the latest standards
- Less time spent on manual management of document retention and storage
- Better client experience with provision of access to information and services 24/7
- Efficient information sharing with both colleagues and clients
- Wider functionality can be had by integrating multiple Cloud-based solutions seamlessly via APIs.
- Improved corporate social responsibility performance by reduction in carbon footprint
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