The REAL cost of IT in the Legal Industry
"It's just too expensive. The IT budget expressed as a percentage of our turnover last year was X. The market sector average is Y..." and up raises an eyebrow.
If you're a seasoned IT Manager or CTO in the legal industry, chances are you've had this conversation with your board. You see, IT costs are easy to measure in an organisation, and in legal they are generally the second highest operating costs after payroll. It's therefore no surprise then that these costs are ring-fenced, managed and scrutinised by the board. That's their right and although it feels like you're having your homework re-marked, executives are entitled to their opinion.
Or they WERE entitled to their opinions.
If you were one of the lucky firms who's budget was X, you are likely to be running a VDI enabled, cloud based infrastructure. When Covid-19 came along, you executed your well rehearsed Business Continuity Plan, scaled up and out your resources to meet the new demands of a dispersed workforce, and took the plaudits of success and praise. You finally feel validated and constantly don a slightly smug face, attending your daily MS Teams meeting with a real swagger and a funky Hawaiian shirt.
If you were in a firm with an average budget, you've had to work out how your digital dictation will work remotely upon someone's 20 year old Celeron based home PC, or have had to take delivery of several hundred laptops that you managed to order at the last minute and then built and deployed whilst trying to social distance, implementing a rapidly prepared image with most of your apps in. You attend the occasional Zoom meeting, avoiding the bombers who gatecrash and sweat on how the firm is constantly breaching GDPR, losing your mind about the security holes that you know now exist in your estate.
If you work in a firm with a below average IT budget, breathe a sigh of relief. You've probably been furloughed with the rest of the firm, as there was just not enough cash in the business to sustain the investment required to run a remote workforce. Things for you will be very different when you return to work.
Whatever type of firm you work for, be confident that the (IT budget)/(turnover) * 100 metric, the most useless measure in the Legal IT community ever, invented by accountants for accountants, has contracted Coronavirus and is no longer with us. It's gone for good. Hallelujah.
Before the wake starts and the celebrations commence, remember there are long, dark days ahead. Cybercrime is on the rise and I hear of an uptick in phishing attacks as speculative threat actors intercept property transactions and bank transfers. Lockdown rules are going to be in place for a long period yet, with travel restrictions and social distancing rules unlikely to change for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, basic compliance and data protection rules still exist. Products are still going out of support. Don't take your eye of the ball for a minute. But know that we will emerge into the daylight once more, all together, slightly frightened, but much wiser of our collective humanity. We will marvel our ability to offer resilience in the face of massive adversity, to find new and fun ways to collaborate, and to continue to provide legal services to all of those that need them most in these trying times.
Rest assured, the metric is dead, and if you are an IT leader right now in the legal sector, my congratulations to you. You've all proven your true worth to your firm over the last month. You've made IT worthwhile. When I applaud our key workers on Thursdays at 20:00, know that I applaud you too. Until then, STAY AT HOME, PROTECT THE NHS and SAVE LIVES.
Whoever knew Tiger King was a thing huh :)