Navigating Legal IT Solutions
The aim of this article is to look at how you can check the costs of implementing a cloud-as-practice management (CPM) service, which enables lawyers to use ‘software-as-a-service’ when managing legal practice. This includes updating calendars and contact lists and dealing with emails. We’ll tell you about some of the costs so that you can see what the implications are if you are thinking about migrating to a CPM service.
We will explain what CPM is and how it might be useful to you. We will also tell you about costs involved when it comes to paying for important features.
Positives and negatives
One of the biggest benefits you will get from using CPM is that your data is held on third party servers. This means that you do not have to invest in your own expensive hardware and software. This can represent a significant saving. You also have to factor in the savings you will make on any in-house maintenance of these systems.
An additional benefit is that you have complete flexibility when you use CPM. You can access all of your files and emails whether you are sat ay your desk in the office, visiting a client or sat at the kitchen table at home. Depending on the solution you use, you may even have access to an app that you can use on a mobile device.
As with most things, there are potential negatives to using CPM. One of the most important of these is the fact that you have to pay a monthly fee so that you can gain access to your data. Over time, this may mean that you invest more than you would in purchasing your own software and hardware. Although, it’s worth remembering that you will not have to pay out for any maintenance.
Arguably the biggest advantage you get from using CPM is that you do not have to deal with all the stressful situations associated with software and hardware problems. That is someone else’s concern. You get to invest all your time and energy into other aspects of running your business.
Many law professionals worry that using CPM compromises the security of client data. The fact is that encryption tools guard against this. The biggest risk to client data is law professionals themselves not being security aware. This applies as much to non-cloud based data as it does to data that is held in the cloud.
The biggest threats to the security of information include lack of password strength and failure to follow security protocol. Even if you do not use CPM, your client’s data could be at risk if you do not use an effective firewall or you do not update malware protection. The fact is that you can protect your client’s data just as easily using CPM as you can when using your own software and hardware.
In order to protect the security of your clients’ data when using a CPM, you need to:
- Ensure passwords and phrases are strong enough.
- Make sure that you work with a cloud services provider who has a good reputation for providing security.
Do not forget that Cloud companies rely on a good reputation to help them survive in a competitive market. For this reason, your data should be more secure in the cloud than if it was being held on your own servers.
Costs for using CPM vary; averaging out at around £35 to £45 per user, each month. Accounting systems average out at around £20 to £35 each month for your office, or for individual entities within your office.
Comparing this cost with the cost of using in-house software and hardware is complicated. It’s better to look at benefits such as reduction in time spent on IT related hassles and the fact that you can easily access your data from any location at any time. You will probably still need to have a file server on site, but you do not need to invest in other expensive servers, if you use CPM.
Using CPM, you should find that some cloud-based back-ups are included. However, it’s a good idea to also back-up all the information you have in the cloud on a regular basis, and download it onto your in-house computer. You may think that this is an extra cost for your business, but you should already be using an online back-up service for your files anyway, even if they are not being held in the cloud.
There is an alternative to CPM, in the form of third party hosting. You can outsource your entire network to a cloud-based provider. If you decide on this option, your entire network is virtualised and managed by a third party from a remote location. You use your computers as normal, but you do not have to invest in the purchase or maintenance of expensive servers.
There are two main advantages to this type of solution. All of the work regarding the maintenance of your network is done for you and you do not have to pay out a significant amount of money to buy expensive servers.
The biggest disadvantage of choosing this option is the cost, with monthly costs averaging out at between £70 and £105. This type of solution can also group programs together in a complicated manner, as opposed to the simple grouping of programs with CPM.
We hope that we’ve highlighted some of the typical costs, and some of the pros and cons of such a system, should you be considering implementing a cloud-as-practice management (CPM) service.
The advice that we provide comes from the knowledge that we have acquired over ten years of operating. Computer Geeks provides IT advice to companies from across the UK, from its offices in Bristol. It does not matter what sector you operate in, we can tailor our services to meet your needs. Call 0117 325 0370 for more information about how Computer Geeks can help you.