Dave Kinsey 2013-04-04 07:09:23
Tips for Smart-sourcing your Technology Staff Remember being told as a kid that “Nobody likes a know-it- all”? Every professional is an expert in their own field. When we need solutions for issues outside of our expertise, we rely on other “experts” for help. You are an expert at what you do because you have chosen to focus on that strength. Perhaps you’re familiar with nearly everything there is to know about your specific practice area. When you find a client that seeks legal advice in a practice area in which you are not an expert, however, you likely have a network of other attorneys to consult. Should I outsource my IT Staff? Every organization is unique; there is no magic formula to determine when to outsource. Often firms with less than 75 people find it most cost effective to completely outsource their technology; larger firms will likely have a combination of in-house staff and outsourced advisors. Many law firms outsource their IT because: • technology is not the core business of a law firm; your firm exists to practice law; • an IT outsourcing company will generally have a larger pool of resources, providing better coverage and economies of scale than a handful of internal IT employees; • an IT outsourcing company offers labor saving monitoring and management tools which are cost-prohibitive for an individual firm; • IT support organizations focus on staff training and certification, resulting in higher efficiency. If you choose to manage your information technology inhouse, then plan on spending the resources to adequately train your IT staff. Just as you require ongoing study to remain an expert in your legal profession, your IT staff needs to keep up with the rapid changes in technology as well. If you choose to outsource, you will want to find a partner that offers the experience and training that matches your needs. Two factors to consider when evaluating insourcing, outsourcing, and the technology partners you work with are managed services and cloud computing. The stated goal of managed IT is to keep problems from occurring in the first place. Managed service providers like Total Networks utilize preventive maintenance techniques, IT best practices and remote monitoring tools to keep your technology running smoothly. This means fewer issues and lower costs in the long run. Having the best IT people is still essential, but improved automation allows managed service providers to provide more efficient support, focus more time on proactive planning, and spend less time reacting to things that are broken. Cloud computing offers compelling new alternatives, but it is not an “easy button” and it requires careful planning. Whether or not you have insourced or outsourced IT, working with a managed services provider can be worthwhile. The automation tools these providers offer can be leveraged in either situation. There is generally an advantage to outsource monitoring and management tools from a cost and functionality standpoint. For example, if you lose power or network connectivity, an inhouse monitoring system generally won’t be able to alert anybody if it’s located in your office. Of course, system down alerting isn’t the primary objective. Good monitoring software will check network systems constantly, and alert your technology team when systems need attention. This is the key to identifying and correcting root cause issues before they create downtime. While IT staff could monitor your network manually, it can be time consuming and is subject to human error or oversight. Properly managed software that checks your systems around the clock won’t miss anything and will alert your team to issues far sooner than ad hoc inspections. However you choose to staff your IT needs, it’s important that fundamentally sound IT practices are followed so that you don’t encounter avoidable setbacks such as outages, malware infections, performance issues, or failure to restore data from backup.
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