Two Heads are Better Than One: Working with Your IT Company When Transitioning to A New Practice Management Platform
March 30, 2021
Any time you undertake a project that involves your computers, it is a good idea to have your IT team involved.
With so much technology at our fingertips, IT professionals always have some sort of new technological advancement to tackle. Any time you undertake a project that involves your computers, it is a good idea to have your IT team involved. Involving them early in the project can help to make the project proceed more smoothly. Your full team should include appropriate firm members, an IT team, the software vendor and, when applicable, members of the consulting team that is helping with migration and training. Some of these roles may be combined (for example, the IT team may also be the consulting team), but all are integral to the firm.
The IT firm plays a number of important roles. Whether you are looking at desktop or cloud-based software, the roles include:
- Ensuring your computer/hardware meets system requirements for the software.
- Making sure security and antivirus are properly set up and appropriate exclusions are in place.
- Locating data for migration.
- Setting up integrations between the software and Office 365 or other software.
- Ongoing hardware maintenance.
- Configuring interfaces to printers, scanners, etc.
Let us explore these further.
Choosing and Maintaining the Correct Device
Just because software is cloud-based does not mean you do not need a computer. While most applications can also be run on a smartphone, you will still need to edit documents and generate bills, among other functions. You likely will not want to be doing these tasks on a phone. While you may want to work on a large tablet, it is important to understand how the software works with various devices and make sure you can do the tasks you want on the devices you choose. The amount of memory on a device or speed of the device may impact performance. There may also be functionality that is available on a PC but not a Mac. The IT team can help understand these requirements, so you do not get unpleasant surprises. Computers and devices can break and need to be repaired or replaced. Your IT team can help with this, including making sure that any computer or device that is being replaced is thoroughly scrubbed of firm information.
Are you unintentionally allowing your computer to get infected in a way that could cause harm to other computers in your office when you connect internally?
Keeping Data Secure
While cloud software, like CARET Legal, has security built-in, you still need to connect to the internet to use it. You want to make sure your devices are secure. If you walk into a local coffee shop and use the Wi-Fi connection, are you possibly sharing your passwords via an open Wi-Fi network? Are you unintentionally allowing your computer to get infected in a way that could cause harm to other computers in your office when you connect internally? With an IT team in place, they can help in establishing firewalls, VPN, malware and anti-virus checks and appropriate security protocols throughout the network and the devices. That way, your devices, and the information on them, stay secure.
Some practice management providers offer integrations with third party software. For example, they might integrate with Office 365 for calendar and email. These integrations need to be set up, and in the case of our example, your Office 365 account still needs to be configured and appropriately backed up and maintained. While the practice management vendors and/or your consultants will assist with this, your IT team understands how you have been working and can help in the setup. If you need to switch to Office 365, they will either handle or assist with the migration. Your IT team can also help with the Office 365 maintenance like setting up new accounts, enforcing security protocols, dealing with password issues and removing access for employees that leave the firm.
When moving data to a new program you need to know where the data is, the structure and how to access. The IT team will usually have access to this and can work with consultants or the practice management’s migration team to help get all the data that needs to be moved. Working together saves time as migration specialists do not have to search for pieces that may be hidden, like document folders on individual workstations or in alternative secure locations. The IT people will also know the passwords which saves time in gaining access to the data.
Many times, when a firm is looking at going to cloud-based software, IT people worry they are losing work as there will no longer be a server to maintain. Involving them in the process will help the team to understand the transition and allow them to assist with the tasks that they can do best.
Written by CARET Legal partner, Caren Schwartz. Caren has been serving the technology needs of the legal industry for almost 30 years and leads the accounting services team at 3545 Consulting – Global. Caren’s key focus is back office services, analytics and best practices for law firms. Caren is the author of QuickBooks for Law Firms.