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Technology Strategy and Implementation

Innovative information technology strategies that support and enable business change

After paying lawyers and renting business premises, a law firm’s investment in information technology is typically its largest cost.  This includes the cost of servers, networks, datacentres, security, and teams of people to manage that infrastructure.  In fact our benchmarking figures show that typically firms spend between 4 and 5% of their turnover on IT, and often this equates the several thousand pounds per person per year.

As client and regulatory demands increase, and the rate of technology change continues, investment in technology infrastructure is a continuous process, often with large-scale re-investments every 3-5 years.  This has two consequences that are significant for the efficient operation of the firm:

  • Typically unless drastic action is taken the trend of operational IT costs only go one way – up.

  • This cost of IT investment is fixed, and doesn’t flex as the firm changes shape.

With this large fixed investment, IT departments typically spend their time focusing on keeping the lights on.  Indeed, we estimate that around 80% of spend and 85% of resources are concentrated in operational activities. This means that typically only 15% – 20% of the focus of an IT function is directed towards activities that will exploit technology to generate business value, the rest being directed towards making sure that current systems simply work.

However, we understand that law firms need their IT departments to do much more than keep the lights on – law firms across all segments of the market claim to be looking to:

  • Use technology to make their lawyers more efficient and effective,

  • Help lawyers be more mobile,

  • Make more use of alternative sourcing methods to deliver legal advice, and;

  • Reduce the cost of supporting the business.

Why should firms take a fresh look at their IT strategy?

There are a number of factors that drive the need to take a strategic and potentially different approach to the provision of IT systems:

The demands of an increasingly agile business, including:

  • The need to support increased merger and acquisition strategy;

  • The need for capability to grow quickly to support expansion into new jurisdictions particularly Asia Pac and Africa.

The requirement for globally consistent services, including the provision of:

  • A common desktop and user experience;

  • Consistent performance and service levels.

The need to manage costs effectively in order to:

  • Turn IT into a flexible cost;

  • Reduce absolute IT costs;

  • Reduce non fee earning costs.

An increasingly mobile and flexible workforce that increasingly demands:

  • Support for the use of consumer devices (BYOD);

  • Access to IT services on any device in any location.

The need to operate in an increasingly regulated environment:

  • Improve security and demonstrate compliance with increasing regulation.

At Change Harbour we understand these drivers and have real-world experience and understanding of how to address them through effective IT strategy.

Examples of our projects include:

  • The review and development of IT strategies for a number of international and domestic law firms.

  • The design and deployment of a global Virtual Desktop Environment (VDI) for a major global firm.

  • Migration of the entire IT infrastructure of a UK firm to the ‘cloud’.

  • Migration of a firm’s entire infrastructure to three managed datacentres in the UK and Asia.

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