Picking an IT Support partner for your Law Firm can be tricky. Given the reliance on IT and the corresponding risks combined with the fact that Hackers Are Targeting Law Firms, you can’t afford to ignore the importance of working with the right partner.
The best way to avoid a misstep is to follow a systematic approach with your decision, one that helps you check all the boxes and look at this decision the right way.
I’m guessing the picking a Managed Services Provider for your Law Firm has to be top on your list of stuff you hate doing – after all, you have client matters to attend to and a decision like this takes time and focus away from running your law firm.
Unfortunately, this is a decision that needs your attention – much like choosing an accounting firm or an outsourced HR provider – these are weighty decisions that you simply can’t ignore.
Do You REALLY Need To Change?
The first question you need to answer is, “Do you REALLY need to make a change?” Chew on this for a bit…
If you are contemplating a change then I’m guessing your current provider probably did something recently to make you mad but it is always best to try to fix any issues bothering you before making a change in a key vendor.
Taking this thought one step further, If you are contemplating a change and your current vendor is “in the running” you are going about this all wrong. Just call in your current vendor and have a heart-to-heart – chances are they will take the conversation seriously and address the frustrations you are having and you can save yourself a ton of time and frustration.
I’ve Gotta Do Something!
OK, so assuming you’ve done all you can to make the current vendor relationship work, you’ve had a heart-to-heart and nothing changed or you are worried about their ability to grow with you into the future – you’ve decided to make a change and staying with the current vendor isn’t an option.
Roll up your sleeves and let’s get to work helping you make the best decision for your law firm…
A Methodical Approach
The best way to make a decision like this is to take as much emotion out of the decision as possible and rely on the facts; the ubiquitous ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison that always ends up on a spreadsheet of some description.
I see two very common problems businesses make when using this approach;
- They don’t the right questions to ask
- They take the prospective IT Vendors word for it and don’t demand proof
- They lead the witness, ex: make the correct answer obvious by the phrasing of the question
Ask The Right Questions
What is a ‘wrong’ question versus a ‘right’ question?
The “Wrong” questions are typically general questions with vague answers. They don’t allow your business to gain any meaningful insight into how the prospective IT vendor operates or what your experience will be like.
Example of “Wrong” questions;
- What is your response time? WAY too ambiguous – their idea of ‘response’ might be simply acknowledging that they got your ticket.
- Will we get the personal attention we need? You will get a ‘Yes’ to this every time but if they have 1 tech for every 40 customers – NOT!
- What anti-virus package do you use? Huh? Do you really care?
The “Right” or at least better questions are all around processes and outcomes. They get to the heart of how a company is set up, how it works, and the results you are likely to see as a customer, regardless of what the marketing presentation says.
Example of “Right” questions;
- What is the average time it takes for a tech to be assigned and begin work on a ticket?
- What is your ratio of technical resources to customers? How do you know when it is time to add staff?
- Tell me about the process you use to ensure your customers don’t get viruses?
In practice, think of the ‘result’ you want ex: fast response time, and ask process-related questions that will indicate what the response time will likely be based on how the IT vendor’s business is actually built.
A very common thing is to simply take a prospective provider’s word for it during the evaluation process. I think people do this so as to not appear rude or suspicious but this is a huge mistake. I know this happens because I will come in behind a competitor and hear “Oh, XYZ vendor does the same thing” and I KNOW for a FACT they don’t because I recently took a customer from that other company for that VERY SAME reason!
You don’t need to worry about offending a prospective provider during this process if you take the right approach.
- Proper documentation is important, can you show me an example of documentation, like a new user setup, you’ve done for another customer?
- We have some big projects coming up, planning will be key. Can I see a recent project plan you’ve completed for a customer?
Don’t Give Them The Answer
So often questions are worded in such a way that the correct answer is clearly obvious. I know why businesses do this – it’s because they know what they want but they aren’t sure how to ask a question in such a way as to get to the real answer.
- “We need someone Proactive. Is your firm proactive?” – My favorite question, no IT vendor on the planet will say no to this, no matter what services they provide! Take this back to the Right/Wrong question discussion and change it to; “You say you are proactive, can you give me an example of a process you use to prevent issues in your customers’ environment”
- “Security is important here. Do you focus on security?” Again – everyone says yes. Flip it to a process question; “Can you tell me about how you ensure your customer environments are secure?”
- “Give me some examples of how you’ve helped other Law Firms secure their sensitive data?” Another great open-ended question that should give you a feel for the firm’s level of knowledge and business acumen. For more information (and some things to look for in their answer) check out our article Safeguarding Sensitive Client Data.
Basically, stay away from any question where a prospective vendor can guess at where you are trying to get – ask for examples that lead to the intended result.
Partner With The Right IT Firm
Picking an IT firm can be tricky, especially with the risks faced by law firms today. Technology Associates has the knowledge and experience needed to help Legal firms navigate stormy IT waters with confidence.
Want A Step-By-Step Process?
Looking for a step-by-step guide that will walk you through this process and ensure you are making the right decision for your firm?
Check out our “Guide To Selecting The Right IT Firm”. This guide takes you through the entire process of determining your needs, finding potential patterns, conducting interviews, asking the RIGHT questions, and finding an IT partner that is a perfect match for you.