By Berys Amor, Director of Technology, Corrs Chambers Westgarth
A tough competitive market and a future of disruption for the legal sector means law firms need to think differently about the services they provide to enhance their clients’ experience and success. In addition to this, IT teams are expected to deliver new solutions faster and with more agility. This includes delivering applications that allow people to work anywhere, and sometimes any way, they choose.
This can be challenging from an application perspective. Traditionally, an upgrade of a core legacy system such as the document management system, or the implementation of a new system such as an extranet, would be a 12-18 month project. In addition to this, legacy systems are often not very mobile friendly.
For some firms the increase in adoption of cloud services has allowed them to meet these challenges head on! From an application management perspective, the heavy lifting is being done by the cloud provider. This means that application support managers and teams can focus on areas that provide more value to the business such as testing new features as they are released, ongoing training to get the most out of the features and also integration with other solutions. The adoption of Cloud services can allow the technology team to allocate less time to maintaining infrastructure, servers and software, and more time to exploring new technologies and opportunities for innovation.
Cloud cost reduction and improved efficiencies should be a key performance indicator for the technology team
A few years ago, you would expect technology teams to be focused on the day-to-day running of the IT systems but now technology teams are proactively helping the business to look for savings and efficiencies for the business and for their clients, and working alongside lawyers as ‘one client facing team’.
The adoption of Cloud platforms means that operational excellence is maintained and governed by the Cloud service providers. A rigid due diligence process should be followed for the selection of Cloud service providers; this should include considerations such as formal certifications, penetration testing and contractual obligations by the cloud service provider. A documented cloud security framework that classifies the type of information the firm stores and then applies layers of security, depending on whether the information is business, personal or client confidential, is a good starting point. Selecting the right cloud provider can result in an improvement in the security, integrity and business continuity of the firms systems and data so that the business and clients can feel confident that their data is protected in the Cloud using multiple security standards and layers, including encryption and encryption key management.
A more stringent governance program is also required to ensure that Cloud costs do not escalate due to poor housekeeping and maintenance procedures. Cloud cost reduction and improved efficiencies should be a key performance indicator for the technology team.
Another consideration is how do you protect data that has been downloaded to a mobile device? If your applications are mobile then device and data management must be addressed if you are going to take full advantage of the mobility features. If you are migrating your applications to cloud services then it makes sense to also look at a cloud authentication and identity management platform. A cloud authentication platform can manage single sign-on to all your cloud services. This may also facilitate the use of personal devices to access enterprise applications, provided that you can prohibit downloading of data and/or protect downloaded data with a MDM. If you are also deploying cloud services to your clients, such as portals, data rooms, collaboration sites, etc then a cloud authentication platform will allow them to manage their own users logins and passwords, or even setup single sign-on to your cloud services if they prefer. This will provide an agile work practice for your clients too!