Cloud doesn’t mean Cheap.
And it shouldn’t.....
For some people, the idea of subscribing to a Cloud based program for Practice Management, Document Management, or Time Billing & Accounting seems like the financially sensible thing to do…because, for a small monthly fee, you can just log in and get started. Anybody can do that, right?! Hit the brakes. This is the software you are going to use to RUN YOUR BUSINESS and will contribute to AVOIDING MALPRACTICE. Let’s do this right.
To live under the assumption that Cloud based, subscription software is “plug and play” is to completely discount the sophistication of cloud programs on the market today, and, the still existent need for customization and training on the program. It also suggests that your firm isn’t unique in any way…but we know that isn’t true.
When firms look at traditional programs, there is always a cost for securing the right hardware foundation for the program. Think of practice management software like a house; the hardware, the foundation. If you have a foundation for an 800 square foot bungalow and try to build a 6,000 square foot McMansion on it, you are going to be devastatingly disappointed when your masterpiece comes crumbling down.
The same is true for software. Many traditional programs require true servers running up to date operating systems, powerful processors, and the like. So, for firms that do not HAVE the foundation, or, have the foundation but want to move away from maintaining that type of foundation, a Cloud based, subscription model could be a great option (a hosted network infrastructure is another – but that’s a different blog topic!) – helping to minimize, or at least reduce, their expenditure on hardware and servers.
So while you will likely enjoy a reduction in your hardware costs, the proper implementation of a Cloud based program is not going to be significantly less expensive, in the long term, than a traditional program.
This blog certainly isn’t designed to tell you one is better than the other – but to make sure that as a law firm, you think about what you are trying to accomplish. Are you TRYING to move your practice to the cloud because you don’t want an internal network infrastructure that you need to maintain? Are you trying to increase mobility? Do you have a 5 year plan to have a virtual office, or increase work from home opportunities? Do you prefer budgeting the monthly subscription cost as compared to the larger capital outlays for traditional software upgrades? These are all excellent reasons to consider Cloud.
Just please don’t assume you are going to spend less than if you implemented a traditional product. The same considerations need to be made. The same meetings with your consultant have to occur. The same understanding of your practice area and files types, contact groups, calendaring needs, integration needs, document automation needs, workflow needs is essential. The same amount of time will be required to customize the program to work the way you NEED it to work – and don’t discount how much these cloud based systems can be customized to support your firm’s workflow. You will save time from installing the product on your server and workstations – but that is about it. You will still have third party add-ins to install, integrations with third part products to configure, and most importantly, training to conduct.
Considering a Cloud based program? Let us help. Click HERE to schedule a call with an Affinity Consultant.