Outsourcing is always a hot topic. No matter where you work or what field you work in, business owners are always aware that there's a chance somebody somewhere will do it for less.
The same is true in law firms. With an eye on the bottom line, saving money through outsourcing certainly seems like an appealing course of action. But the truth is, the situation isn't one-size-fits-all. Depending on your law firm's size, needs, and output, outsourcing may make less financial sense than simply having your own permanent IT staff on hand. So how do you weigh the pros and cons for yourself?
To Outsource, Or Not To Outsource?
Indeed, that is the question. But there's more than one answer. Here are some of the factors to take into consideration.
1. Is It Going to Be Cheaper?
Being cost-effective is critical. Outsourcing IT makes sense if you run, for example, a fairly low-tech practice (say, such as a solo criminal defense or divorce practice) that does not run into technological hurdles very frequently. If you are a solo practitioner and tend to keep track of your time in an easy-to-use programs like Excel, and all you ever have to deal with is an occasional program glitch or fussy printer, having to pay a permanent IT staffer around the clock makes no sense, where the occasional outsourced contractor does. However, if you find yourself in constant need of tech support, say in situations where keep track of records electronically, have many attorney keeping time in the cloud, or practice in an area where you are able to file documents digitally - it will probably be cheaper, more reliable, and less stressful to simply have a permanent IT staff safely on hand.
2. How Important is Time?
Of course, most attorneys understand the value of time - but sometimes, speed it also important. Practices (such as complex commercial litigation) that depend on up-to-the-second, high-speed, around-the-clock capabilities would do better to have a fixed IT department permanently available. If the world your company operates in is a little more relaxed time-wise - say, a smaller market personal injury law firm - then outsourcing your IT may be the way to go.
3. What is Your Employee 'Family' Dynamic?
Human beings are not machines. They have emotions and feelings, and while those may not be hard or quantifiable factors, they are still absolutely critical to workplace harmony - and in turn, quality of work. Sometimes, outsourcing IT can be seen as threatening, and can cause friction among employees. For practices that are particularly small and close-knit, having a permanent IT person who is familiar and highly involved might result in a happier workplace dynamic.
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