The cost of your IT system is more than just how much the hardware is – in fact, the hardware could be as little as 50% of the total IT costs. So when you are updating or replacing your system, you need to be thinking holistically across its anticipated lifecycle.
Add-on costs include anti-virus software, functionality and licences. Poor licence management will result in overspending, so software licences should be reviewed on an annual basis – it may well be that the software is no longer relevant and could be replaced by something better suited to the needs of your practice.
Your IT system will have indirect costs associated with it, caused by lost or reduced productivity when there are problems. If the system is not fit for purpose, you could lose a lot of money in downtime, or if the system is slow your fee earners will have less ability to record billable time. In the year to the end of March 2016, internet downtime cost UK business £12.3bn as a whole in terms of lost productivity and extra overtime requirements.
When calculating their IT costs, many law firms do not take electricity use into account. IT management must include the costs of running your computers as they can cost a company a lot of money if computers are left on overnight. Well-managed systems will use software to not only track usage, but also ensure computers are powered down when they are not needed.
One cost that law firms are particularly prone to is the cost of printing. The paperless office is still a long way off, and lawyers like to have hard copies of all their documentation. If, like many law practices, you are printing emails every time someone replies in a thread, it will not take you long to amass a huge amount of waste in terms of paper, ink and wear and tear on the printer, as well as the time it takes to marry up all the replies on the thread and dispose of duplicate messages. (Luckily, there is software that will automatically print only the last email in the thread, with an immediate cost saving.)
If your company has in-house IT support, staffing will account for a huge part of the costs which will have to be taken into account when calculating the total cost of ownership. You will not only be liable for all the costs concerning their salary and benefits, you will only be able to use their services for restricted amounts of time, which will be reduced further by holidays and sickness – do you have a contingency plan for such an event? So, if you are working late and you need IT support, at say 9pm on a Friday night, will it be available?
By outsourcing your IT support, you will not only be able to resolve issues quickly and at any time, you will also be supported by someone taking the role of an external, or virtual CIO. They will undertake a thorough total cost analysis on your behalf and advise you on the best and most efficient systems and strategies for your needs.
If you would like to find out more about the real IT costs for your practice, contact us for information.