Lawyer Monthly - July 2022

41 JUL 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM MOVING TO THE CLOUD: OPPORTUNITIES AND PITFALLS Like much of the world, the UK is experiencing an IT skills shortage and it is getting harder for firms to attract and retain the talent they require to run their IT systems effectively and securely. As a result, the skills and experience required to run the on-premises backend infrastructure of a modern law firm just are no longer there. This is another area where the cloud can help firms significantly by moving the task of dealing with the complexities of managing all their hardware and associated IT systems to the provider. The firm can then focus their internal IT teams on better management and transformation of their legal application sets, which is where they can usually find real and measurable business gains. The cloud does not just ease the IT burden and improve security, but it can even be a more cost-effective solution for legal firms – particularly when compared to IT environments that are run internally. Too often, firms simply focus on the capital expenditure of their IT systems; they can miss the mounting soft costs, including people overheads, risk reduction, power supply and cooling costs that the cloud simply does not demand. Getting Everyone on Board Clearly, the cloud can bring many benefits for legal firms, but when it comes to making the transition, there are some key challenges and considerations that should be kept in mind. One issue IT teams can so often encounter is the appetite for spending within the firm, particularly from a partnership level when decision-makers are only looking at the specific hard costs rather than the associated softer costs. As such, it is crucial that the true business case of shifting to the cloud is established and communicated clearly, right from the start. Moving to the cloud is typically married to a full transformation journey and it is crucially important that staff are factored into that plan. This is especially true in the legal sector, where change can be a bit slower. Any and all communications to staff need real consideration before, during and after the project, and the key to success is ensuring that the IT team and partners are joined up on this journey. From Plan to Progress Once the wider team is committed to the move to the cloud, it is vital that everyone involved really considers the strategy and programme to deliver this business transformation. Many firms often proceed with their journey to the cloud without having a real strategy, leaving out business-focused requirements or failing to map projects onto a clear roadmap. This only serves to create delays in the transition, in some cases by a year or more as they struggle with interoperability and performance issues. Part of the solution can be found in finding an IT partner to assist in the transition, but it is equally vital that the chosen partner is both reputable and experienced in the legal sector. On the one side, cloud providers often simply focus on getting a deal over the line and do not spend enough time with the client to consider how it gets delivered in practice. However, on the other side, many buyers are often too focused on flat costs. Time after time, we are bought in as consultants to unpick the situation that one or both parties have created by rushing deals, which means significant additional time and costs for the firm. In addition to that, many legal firms believe having their systems in the cloud means they do not need to consider disaster recovery, business continuity and IT security. But these are all key areas that must be given real focus before any decision is made. Firms cannot outsource ultimate accountability for risk; it must be

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