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OPINION: The Cost of Doing Nothing

Brian Welsh

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The Cost of Doing Nothing.

Brian Welsh, a Director of Insight Legal on the problems and pitfalls of updating and upgrading to new systems – and the real cost of not doing so.

 

Insight Legal Brian WleshComputer companies frequently update their hardware and software products. As well as the obvious sales benefit to themselves, they do so in order for their clients to take advantage of advancements in hardware proficiency and software capability.  

What’s the cost of upgrading? 

The cost of migrating your systems would typically take into account the following items and activities; the cost of the software licences themselves, the implementation of the software by the IT specialists, maintenance of the system and training to cover the new functionality in the release. Obviously these costs differ from supplier to supplier and from product to product. 

Typically, the benefits of a new system will outweigh the costs of moving or upgrading be that in terms of less down-time, more features or function in the software to deliver time and cost efficiencies to your business and a reduction in risk. 

But what is the cost of doing nothing? 

Many firms think that by doing nothing with their IT they are avoiding potential headaches that come along with territory of moving systems. They think that because they are not physically spending money, they are actually saving money. However, standing still with their IT is really going backwards and is damaging to their practice. 

Whilst they are doing nothing, all of their competitors are taking advantage of the advancements in software developments, not to mention higher hardware processing power. In ‘saving money’ they are actually costing the business money and opening the business up to some pretty expensive problems. 

To calculate the cost of doing nothing, you need to think about the various costs to your business associated with any hardware failures or non-compliant software. 

Think Hardware And Software

The cost of doing nothing. systems upgrade. Old IT equipmentHardware risks include slow processors, out of warranty hardware, incompatible hardware, and insecure devices amongst others. Putting your business critical software onto outdated hardware may compromise your security, putting both your business and your clients at risk. Imaging your servers suddenly stopping working, how would your practice function? How many house completions would be delayed? How many clients would you lose? 

Out of date software also presents a myriad of problems to the average law firm, usually around time and compliance issues, all of which result in a high cost to the practice, be that through fines, lost clients or unbilled fee earner time. 

As we know, there are many legislative changes in any given year. Some of these won’t impact the running of a practice, whilst others, most definitely will. For example, ensuring that your software and thus your practice is complaint with the latest anti-money laundering legislation and is essential if you are to practice safely within the law.  

Operating In A Changing Environment

Older systems may not have the ability to time record easily or flexibly, resulting in missed hours billed and thus reducing the income of the practice. 

Aside from the obvious risks out-dated software provides, failing to upgrade to modern systems means that you are also missing out on a raft of beneficial developments that your competition are surely making the most of. 

Taking fee earner time management for example, we can see that newer software gives you the ability to view productivity by fee-earners enabling you to see what work types are profitable and which fee-earners are the most productive. Older software packages don’t have this ability and thus practices running these older packages are hampering their own business decision making due to them not having a proper view of the practice. They are not able to spot opportunities in the market and are not giving themselves the ability to be successful. 

So, in order to calculate the cost of doing nothing, you need to work out what any down-time would mean for you in lost fee-earner time.  Add this to the various fines you may face for non-compliant software and things are getting quite pricey.  That’s before you add in higher insurance premiums of on-site older hardware and PII. 

So what’s the best way forward? 

Rather than simply upgrading to a more recent version of your own software or migrating to the first vendor that comes along, you need to have a think about what’s best for your practice.  This includes taking into account where people work, are they all on-site or are some remote workers? Do you want to house hardware on-site, or take advantage of lower insurance premiums of a cloud /hosted platform accessible from anywhere? What function does the new software have and what benefits will it deliver for your firm and your clients? How expensive is it to buy / rent? What do you get for your money? How easy is the training? How is it delivered (online vs expensive in person)? What benefits have others achieved from the new software.  How have they offset the cost of moving against standing still and doing nothing? 

A reputable vendor will be non-aggressive. They will be confident in their own software capabilities and the proven benefits it can deliver. They will have multiple reference sites; firms just like you who thought about doing nothing but then realised the cost to their businesses of inaction and who are now growing their businesses cost-effectively and efficiently. They will tell you that the cost of doing nothing is immense whilst the cost of doing something in common-sense. 

Insight Legal Brian Wlesh

Brian Welsh

Director, Legal Insight

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