If you haven’t taken a hard look at your legal technology recently, you might be surprised to find that you’re maintaining tools you no longer need—or even completing tasks that you no longer need to do. That means you could be wasting money on technology and, worse, wasting time. Fortunately, you can assess your technological landscape with a technology audit, in which you determine what software can help you most effectively and efficiently complete your most important tasks.
Maintaining Unnecessary Technology Is Costly
Technology isn’t just expensive to buy; it can also be expensive to maintain. From the initial purchase or subscription price through IT support time, the costs of updating and managing software and licenses can add up quickly. When technology is earning its keep by providing measurable value, those costs are worth it—but that’s not always what happens.
There are three broad categories of technology you might be wasting money on:
redundant technology that either isn’t solving a critical problem or that addresses a problem that could be better handled by another tool;
unused technology that might be helpful, except that no one’s using it due to some barrier to adoption; and
dangerous technology that’s either managing a problem poorly or is introducing a security vulnerability.
Time- and money-wasting technology isn’t always about what you have; sometimes, it’s a lack of technology that drives up your costs. For example, you might be manually managing tasks that an accessible tool could complete more quickly and easily.
The Costs of Poor Technology Go Beyond the Budget
Unnecessary or poorly designed technology costs more than dollars. It can also waste valuable time. We’ve all experienced the drag of software that:
is so non-intuitive or clunky to operate that it takes more time to learn the software—every time you use it—than to complete the task manually;
interrupts an established workflow repeatedly, slowing down a process that should be fast and seamless; or
has so many non-essential bells and whistles that it produces more distraction than value.
When facing wasteful technology, it’s tempting to play whack-a-mole, reactively trying to improve your legal technology according to what’s most troublesome at the moment. But it’s more effective in the long run to take a strategic, wraparound approach. That’s where technology audits come in.
Consider a Comprehensive Technology Audit
In a technology audit, you’ll start by reviewing the vital tasks you must complete. After all, you should be selecting technology that fits your workflows rather than designing your work around a given technological tool. From opening cases and maintaining client contact to drafting documents and negotiating deals, determine what you need to get done and figure out what solution, if any, you’re currently using to expedite those tasks.
Check that you’re using the most up-to-date version of each technology. Now is the time to complete any software updates that you’ve fallen behind on. Also evaluate whether all of your tools are complying with your security requirements or whether any of them are introducing unacceptable vulnerabilities.
Ask whether you have overlaps in your software—multiple tools that all perform the same basic tasks—or gaps where no tool is filling a need. As you assess the software you’re using for each given task, take a look at your adoption rates. If you have software that no one is using, try to figure out why.
Next, compare the value you’re getting from each product or service with its costs. Are you satisfied with all the vendors you’re working with? Don’t overlook individual vendors as a resource in conducting a technology audit.
Finally, assess the degree to which different tools are integrated or compatible with one another. Ideally, your tools will work seamlessly across your natural workflow, minimizing the number of clicks, screen hops, and other interruptions. If a particular tool is inexpensive but wastes your employees’ valuable time, it may not be budget friendly after all.