Legal applications have become the essential lifeblood of how law firm professionals deliver legal services to clients, communicate with each other, and operate the business of the law firm. The good news is that they continue to grow in capability, but the challenging news is they also continue to grow in complexity.
In a previous post, we introduced the concept of Application Managed Services (AMS), a new model for supporting a law firm’s technology applications in which the firm partners with an outside service provider to maintain some of their high-value applications. This might consist of a narrow role of advising on the design of a software architecture or it might involve essentially delegating the entire responsibility of monitoring and maintaining all apps — or something in between. The objective is to access the necessary expertise and agility to capture evolving technology opportunities and sustain them on an ongoing basis.
A prominent example of where AMS can typically make an immediate impact is by providing Document Management System (DMS) platform management. The DMS platform is mission-critical for law firms because it houses critical content and controls that are able to review, edit, or share content. Relying on an AMS provider to maintain your DMS frees your firm from the overhead of assigning your internal IT or other professionals to provide this crucial support.
In part one of our four-part series on how the AMS model can deliver gains in law firm efficiency and profitability, we explained how a skilled AMS team can design and build a DMS architecture that gives your firm a competitive advantage. In this post, we will explore how firms can improve their business performance by leveraging AMS to transform and deploy advanced technology applications.
In the days of on-premises technology hosting, law firms were mostly able to essentially “set it and forget it” — they would conduct a review of various software products, choose the one that represented the best value for their firm, have it installed on their network, subscribe to periodic upgrades, and get out of the way.
The migration to the cloud shifted things, as law firms began to look for new approaches to improve efficiency and performance of their apps by leveraging cloud platforms. Today’s cloud DMS solutions continue to evolve and are intelligently designed to seamlessly integrate into an attorney’s workflow. This shift from on-premise systems to cloud-based systems creates new capabilities and flexibility for firms because they are able to be more nimble in response to changing technologies.
However, the cloud migration process requires detailed planning and timely, sound execution. In short, it demands a transformation of the way your team thinks about the delivery of technology apps to your users.
An AMS provider can help drive the successful rollout of your cloud-based DMS by engineering the appropriate transformation and work to ease implementation throughout your environment. This includes a thorough analysis to determine what other tools may be of benefit to meet your firm’s needs for collaboration, workflow automation, security, compliance, and data governance.
Deploying a cloud-based DMS removes the complexity and capital-intensive of hardware infrastructure from the equation, but there are components of any cloud solution that require specific knowledge to maximize your investment.
For example, a successful deployment of a cloud-based legal tech app — especially a DMS — requires detailed technical planning but it also benefits from a strategic communications plan that minimizes disruption. Both of these elements are essential to achieve timely execution of the technology deployment, and a skilled AMS team can drive this phase of the process by helping your firm to run both tracks in parallel.
At a high-level, best practice for most firms is to conduct a phased deployment in four stages:
- Quality Assurance: Confirm compliance of the app against all relevant/defined quality standards.
- Pilot: Test use of the app in totality before its full deployment to verify performance under real-time operating conditions.
- Implementation: Roll out the app to the firm’s users.
- Support: Ensuring end users adopt new features and functionality to improve workflows.
Once deployment has been achieved, an AMS provider will take responsibility for validating important software updates, patches, and security enhancements.
In our next post in this series, we will explain how the AMS model can guide law firms along in their transformation journey by providing the essential user education and assistance they need to maximize productivity on your apps. This role, Train and Support, is critical to ensuring that your DMS platform is constantly supported with the necessary infrastructure management to minimize any software downtime.
If your firm is ready to explore whether the AMS strategy might be a good fit to supplement your internal IT team, it is important to look for an AMS provider that is dedicated to serving the legal industry. This domain expertise is critical to understanding applications built for the unique needs of the practice of law. For more information, please contact me at [email protected].