Cloud computing is proliferating the legal sector as firms see the benefits of having greater agility, effective business continuity procedures in place, and the ability to offer staff more flexibility around how and where they work. But how should firms approach a move to the cloud and what do they need to consider?
When considering a move to the cloud it is important to take time to understand your current position and assess where you want to be in future. You need to find the best approach for your firm and to understand the options available to you. Don't assume that a big bang is the only approach. Every firm is different and a gradual move from on-premise to a hybrid cloud, where offsite cloud resources are used to enhance, upgrade or extend your existing onsite IT resources, could offer a staged approach to a fully hosted solution.
Often firms consider a move to the cloud when changing or upgrading their case management or practice management solution. With a cloud-based delivery there is no investment required for additional servers to accommodate your solution. With the cloud you only pay for the storage you need and can easily scale to meet your future needs. It also has the advantage of having disaster recovery and business continuity built in.
As with any project, it is vital to educate people within the organisation about the need for change, how this can be achieved and the benefits it will bring to the organisation. Get board-level buy-in from the outset and identify advocates within the business. Don't underestimate the work required on both sides. Projects take time and resource and your firm requires a clear project manager.
Choosing a Vendor
When it comes to choosing a vendor, listen to the experiences of other firms. Get testimonials and references, and speak to your case management provider too for their recommendations. You should choose a vendor who can demonstrate successful cloud project management. It's also important that they understand the legal sector, know the software that you are using and are aware of the roles and responsibilities within a legal firm.
Don't neglect security and data protection, gain a clear explanation from the vendor of how they approach these issues. Check and compare SLA's, especially relating to uptime and support response times. As a law firm, you must also make sure you are using a compliant service that meets regulatory requirements.
Don't forget the importance of UAT (User Acceptance Testing). It's vital to making sure your project is successful and that you achieve your ROI. Testing is all important.