The legal sector has changed beyond all recognition in many of its practices over the last 20 years. And if the last 20 years has taught us anything, that pace of change will continue at a relentless speed.
Even for larger practices, it’s more desirable than ever to have an outsourced managed service provider backing up their internal IT staff and teams. That’s not just because of constantly evolving knowledge of the appropriate hardware and software needed for a modern legal firms – it’s because of changing regulations, changing client expectations, and wider shifts in the sector as a whole.
What are the top things that a solicitors’ practice or barristers’ chambers need to consider before appointing a managed service provider partner?
Improved, GDPR-proof security, disaster planning, and back-up
46% of UK businesses suffered a serious data loss in 2016. The figures are not yet out for 2017 but the widespread belief in the IT community based upon workload and monitoring suggests that number increased.
Your data, wherever it is stored and whoever in your firm is accessing it, needs to be processed in line with GDPR requirements from May 25th. In addition, you must make sure that your data is more secure than ever before in case of a cyberattack or other business disaster that might occur.
Make sure that your managed service provider performs a full initial survey of all your connected devices and the ways in which your data is secured, encrypted, and accessed to find vulnerabilities and areas of concern which they then address without delay.
You’ll need to be sure that your data is being constantly backed-up every day to a secure, GDPR-compliant location in case of a breach. Once your breach situation has been resolved, you need to know that your managed service provider can restore your systems to the nearest point in time at which the disaster situation or breach occurred for minimum disruption to your practice or chambers.
Around the clock support
Regardless of whether your main office (or subsidiary offices) have staff in them at the time, someone from your service provider should be available around the clock to speak to at any time and on any day so that they can swiftly put right any issue, minor or major.
Robust all-round remote testing and monitoring
The person that you’re able to speak should not be on their own. They should be working with experienced and alert colleagues in control of a robust remote monitoring system whose settings are attuned to your practice’s standard IT, network, and internet traffic. Through their knowledge of your system and its usage patterns, they are looking out for and spot any potential critical issues immediately.
Your managed service provider should be constantly testing and watching your entire system all the time, including your switches, workstations, routers, servers, firewalls, and network devices.
Remote and onsite servicing
As well as having the comfort of knowing that there are always people monitoring your system and experts to speak to who can quickly resolve issues with a phone call, make sure that your managed service provider is always available at short notice to visit your premises for either maintenance or to respond to unexpected and potentially threatening breaches.
Your managed service provider is your practice or chamber’s equivalent of a very large in-house team of industry-standard IT, network, connectivity, and security experts. Your managed service provider must have the headcount needed to cope with not only your business’s requirements but all the other work that all of their other clients provide them with. Ask your managed service provider about their staff members’ certifications, qualifications, and experience so that you know that, when they are needed, they will provide the level of support needed quickly and efficiently.
Technology is there to increase profitability, efficiency, and business outcomes. If it feels that every day is a battle between you and your IT staff, your whole company will start struggling with workload. Each member of your staff and, in particular, your IT staff should be able to pick up the phone or send an email or service ticket to members of their managed service provider’s team for immediate assistance and problem solving.
Board-level management of your account
You should feel confident that your practice or chambers’ account with your managed service provider is being monitored and managed by a board-level member with the relevant expertise, experience, and qualifications to ensure the highest level of performance.
The executive with responsibility for your company’s account should be there, in addition to his or her colleagues, to help you plan relevant budgets, monitor business impacts, and plan changes to your systems as the workload and type of work your practice or chambers is engaged with changes.
Ability to be flexible
Running a legal practice brings new challenges every day. Your managed service provider needs to be flexible enough to cope with changes and challenges in your business, deploying the right staff in the right number to attend to situations that you need immediate attention on.