Time for a Technology Audit

Occasionally, law firms need help to move their technology forward, but they are not sure what they need or how to begin. They know that they are not taking advantage of the latest technology, have done some research and every product they see is “a perfect fit” for their firm (at least that is what the sales person is telling them).They seem to need EVERYTHING; from encrypted email to document management, to a secure wireless network.

Where do they start the process? It might be best to start with a technology audit.

What is a technology audit?

A technology audit is an evaluation of the systems that your firm has in place. Before a firm can move forward, they need to know what type of technology that they have and options to improve the firm’s state of technology. From the security of your data to recommended software, a technology audit is a useful roadmap to guide your firm’s technology.

What would I expect during a technology audit?

A comprehensive technology audit begins with a series of onsite office visits and interviews of key decision-makers, including administrators and internal or external IT staff. Any reports of hardware and software inventory as well as maintenance contracts are very helpful in the audit process.

Typically, a technology audit evaluates the following areas:

  1. Computer hardware, including desktops, laptops and servers.
  2. Infrastructure equipment, including switches, routers, firewalls and wireless networks.
  3. Security.
  4. Telecom, phones, internet access and bandwidth.
  5. Scanners/printers and other peripherals.
  6. Software – including office applications (MS Office, Acrobat, etc).
  7. Legal specific software – including time and billing, practice management, document management and any practice specific software.
  8. Mobile strategies.
  9. Technology processes and procedures including backups.
  10. Any firm/practice specific items that need to be addressed.

What information would I receive as a result of a technology audit?

In addition to learning the state of your security, hardware and software, a technology audit can provide a strategy for the future of your technology in your firm including recommendations to improve your firm’s technology and processes.

Some examples of conclusions might be:

  1. Your firm is paying too much for software maintenance and lower-priced alternative would be a better fit for your firm.
  2. The current dictation software is not cost efficient and a cloud-based alternative is a better solution.
  3. An update to a firm-wide system would benefit the firm by providing secure mobile access to their data outside of the office.

Where do I get a technology audit?

A technology audit can be performed by most Information Technology (IT) firms. It is recommended that your firm talk with other firms of similar size for a recommendation for a company to do an audit.  An IT firm that has legal software experience is particularly helpful in navigating the maze of legal software.

Many law firms that engage a managed services company already have a partner that can perform an audit for you. However, since you do not want to turn this audit into a sales pitch for new hardware or software, a third-party technology audit is recommended.

Is a technology audit the same thing as a security audit?

No, a technology audit addresses components of security, but is not a security audit. A security audit specifically targets all aspects of the firm’s security, including computers, servers, routers, switches as well as databases, mobile device and website security. A technology audit may conclude that a security audit is warranted.

Where do we go from here?

Considering the benefits of a technology audit, it is well worth the time and money to know the state of your technology as well as a path to move forward. Do you need to implement every suggestion right away? No, but if there are any security issues found in the audit, be sure to address those as your first priority. From there, it is up to you to decide how to move it forward. Now that you know where you have been, it will be easier to see where you should be going.

Featured image: “Time for review” from Shutterstock.

About Pegeen Turner

Pegeen Turner

Pegeen Turner is the President of Legal Cloud Technology, a legal technology firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her firm works with small and medium-sized law firms as they start-up, as well as firms that need help maintaining and integrating legal technology into their practice. In addition, she helps firms understand the risks of cloud computing and how to incorporate cloud computing into their practice. Email | Website | Twitter

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  • Douglas Capozzalo

    Don’t confuse anaudit with an inventory. IMHO you are describing an inventory, a discovery of what’s on the shelves and what shape it is in. An audit is an assessment, not an accounting. In the case of a security audit, it is an assessment of how safe a firm is keeping its clients’ information. In the case of a technology audit, it is an assessment of how well firm personnel use technology to benefit
    clients. This assessment is based on measures like efficiency and
    profitability, and ultimately, a lawyer’s duty of competence. Recently an
    amendment to Model Rule 1.1 included “the benefits and risks associated
    with relevant technology” in the definition of what attorneys owe their
    clients, commonly referred to as “duty of competence.”