Disjointed and Frustrated: Is Your Law Firm in Cloud Hell?
Have you ever heard the phrase excel hell? It’s a phrase the business community has affectionately coined for the situation where the business lacks a single, central software application and database to manage all of its data, metrics and processes–and instead manages everything from a dozen or more disjointed, loosely connected excel spreadsheets. Excel hell is often fraught with duplicate data entry, inconsistent data and a lack of visibility into the business.
I’ve recognized a new, similar phenomenon that I call Cloud Hell
Cloud Hell occurs when a business or law firm operates their firm with a series of disconnected cloud-based systems. Practice management via one system. Cloud storage and document management with another. Accounting in another. Calendaring and email in another–and so on. Cloud Hell, we’ve seen, usually starts innocently enough with a law firm implementing its first cloud-based tool. And when they do, the sentiment is often “Wow–this is great! This is a great application/system/solution that I can access from anywhere, no IT infrastructure necessary!” And Cloud Hell grows organically from there. The law firm “bolts on” another web application here, another cloud system there. Before they know it, the law firm unwittingly builds a patchwork mish-mash of cloud based tools with little integration with one-another, no centralization in data or process and no single solution provider that will support and be accountable for the “solution” as a whole. Cloud Hell.
“We use Clio/Rocket Matter/MyCase (etc.) for practice management. QuickBooks for accounting. DropBox/OneDrive/Google Drive for storage. Office 365/Google Apps for email.” Sound like your firm? Sorry–you’re in Cloud Hell. (Or worse–you have a collection of cloud-based tools and are still maintaining on-premise servers for files or a desktop/server-based application.)
Law firms develop cases of Cloud Hell innocently enough. They find new web-based tools, see a solution to a problem and add it to their firm’s toolbox in an ad-hoc fashion. And repeat. While it’s understandable how Cloud Hell develops, it’s important to recognize it once it has, and thoughtfully and proactively streamline your technology systems to keep your practice manageable, scalable and supportable.
Moving from Cloud Hell to Cloud Heaven
Like Excel Hell, the solution to solving Cloud Hell is to move away from the cluster of disjointed systems to a singular, central solution that meets the needs that your individual cloud “solutions” were meant to address. A single platform for your entire practice: one that serves each need (practice management, storage, email) in a single system, managed and supported by a single provider (thereby providing singular accountability.)
One such solution is a Private Cloud. While definitions of this term vary depending on who you ask, a Private Cloud is a platform that delivers all four key components of your firm’s technology in a cohesive way:
- Legal Software
- Documents / Storage
- IT Support
This four-legged stool is the foundation of your firm’s technology, and if all four aren’t delivered cohesively and in harmony, inefficiency and frustration can eat the firm alive.
More specifically, a private cloud is a single platform that includes:
- Dedicated cloud servers–private to each firm.
- Virtual desktop experience for each user
- Hosting for the firm’s legal practice management, billing and accounting software
- Cloud storage / Document Management
- Legal-grade email
- Support for the firm’s computers, printers, scanners and local network
An all-inclusive, legal-centric implementation of a Private Cloud is what we call Law Practice as a Service™, or LPaaS. It eliminates the disjointed-ness of systems. It provides a predictable cost model. It consolidates accountability to a single provider. And we feel it’s the best–or only–way out of Cloud Hell.