7 Steps To Evaluate The Best Law Practice Management Software For You
A law practice management software is no longer a luxury. The disruption caused by the pandemic and the subsequent change of course of practices and processes has fortified its role as a basic essential these days. The demand for case management software opened the floodgates of solution providers. The necessity for software created a great opportunity for developers to pitch in and there now exists an almost endless choice of case management software to choose from.
A Law practice management software can turn out to be the perfect solution to manage your law firm – but that is only if you choose the right one. Else, what you will end up with is feature-rich, zero-utility software that is as useful as ice-creams are for Eskimos. Therefore, the onus is now on the law firm to choose the right law practice management software.
When you are on the lookout for a law practice management software that will add value to your legal practice, it is important that you deliberate and debate over the following points –
1. On-Premise or Cloud?
On-premise or cloud determines where the hardware, data and software are located. On-premise means that the data infrastructure is stored onsite, while cloud means that it is housed offsite with a service provider. There are pros and cons while choosing either of the options. The best idea would be to evaluate the benefits and choose the one that works for you.
- High upfront cost – On-premise service involves a higher upfront cost due to the infrastructure (processors, hard drives, cooling setup etc.) costs involved.
- Monthly/Periodic Cost – The monthly/periodic costs involved in an on-premise setup is unpredictable owing to the varying nature of requirements such as hardware or software reinvestments, storage data expansions etc.
- Dedicated Team – When you choose an on-premise setup, you will also need to create a dedicated management team for the monitoring and maintenance of the facility.
- The 24/7 management & maintenance- The 24/7 management & maintenance makes the set-up a very secure option. As long as the facility is not connected to the internet, the question of hacking does not arise at all and hence the security cannot be compromised.
- Backups – The backup of data is an aspect that needs extra attention in an on-premise arrangement. The risk of drives or servers crashing can render the whole data lost.
- Security – There also exists the risk of theft, which will lead some to believe that a cloud storage setup might be a better choice.
- No Upfront investment – A cloud storage arrangement does not require any upfront investment since the whole storage occurs offsite.
- Predictable costs over time – The costs of cloud storage are predictable and stable over time since no additional hardware investment is needed. Cloud storage also does not need a dedicated space and team to manage data.
- Virtual Office – With the cloud storage setup, the access to data becomes extremely easy and a Virtual Office can be set up anywhere, anytime and on any device.
- Security & Backup – Though the risk of hacking exists with cloud storage, the risk can be reduced to a great extent by choosing to go with trusted and reputed security solutions. And data backup is a completely automated process. The data auto-updates once a minor change is detected..
2. The Costs Involved
When choosing a law practice management software, it is prudent to be aware of all charges – upfront, periodic and hidden. Deposits, installation charges, subscriptions, pay-as-you-go charges, monthly maintenance charges, renewal charges, upgrade and add-on charges etc. – bills might come in many forms and sizes, so you have to factor-in these charges into your budgetary allocation! Evaluate all the options present in the market, carefully analyse your requirement and choose the software that closely matches your need and budget. There is no logic in choosing and paying for features that you are never going to use.
3. Go for a Test Drive
Request a demo of the software and be sure to be present for the demonstration. It is also a good idea to have a few trusted members of your team present with you during the demo. This will give you the benefit of different perspectives. Prepare a list of what you want, and a questionnaire that addresses all your doubts beforehand. Get all your doubts clarified and issues addressed before committing. If the features that you want align closely with what is offered, and your team’s experience in the ‘driver seat’ is pleasant, only then make the decision.
4. Easy-to-use Software
When it comes to software, there is no one-glove-that-fits-all solution. The ultimate aim of any law practice management software is to make your life easier. You must be familiar and comfortable with the features, options and word usages. The end goal should be that it satisfies your needs. Nothing should deviate you from that. The software has to work for you, and never the other way round. A great law practice management software is user-friendly, easy to use and improves your productivity.
The relationship between you and the law practice management software service provider is nothing less than a marriage. The amount of data that you trust to upload with the provider and the kind of insights they have into your practice means that it is essential that you trust them completely. The best idea would be to approach the union much like how you would approach a marriage. Enquire with the existing client base and references, read the reviews -online and offline, check the case studies and make as much background verification as you can! Once you say ‘yes’, there must be no second-guessing or thoughts.
6. Support & Service
The service provider must be easily approachable and available. While it is not necessary to be spoon-fed, it is imperative that they are available to hand-hold you and guide you through the initial phases. It is also essential that they offer real-time support for complex software enquiries. Another positive aspect to look for is how open the service provider is to your feedback. A good service provider is always open to suggestions and even encourages you to offer your insights and follow it up with implementation.
See all, commit to one. Shortlist the law practice management software that you would like to follow up with and make sure to know the ins and outs of them. Talk to your team and get them on board before making the big decision. The right management software can help you reduce workplace stress and boost productivity by achieving a streamlined workflow.