IT & the Lawyer

Increasing Technology ROI in a legal Practice - 2: Infrastructure

Infrastructure can be defined as the basic hardware and software that allows a firm to conduct its business. The technology doesn't do anything on its own; it has to be used in such a way that it supports business objectives and processes. If used improperly, the entire business' performance will suffer and its reputation may ultimately be damaged.

In an increasingly volatile business environment, we need to understand the effects and benefits of an effectively managed and utilised infrastructure. We have to find a way to objectively measure the contribution of infrastructure expenditure.

The following key areas need to be understood when defining goals for measuring the ROI of infrastructure:

  • Technology - cost value analysis
  • Management - how will we manage the systems?
  • Development - evolution of the infrastructure
  • Individual tasks - who is responsible for what?
  • Business functions - what are the critical functions that need to be supported?
  • Value chain - best use of all employees in the practice
The following are performance criteria for measurement:
  • Availability of servers;
  • Network reliability;
  • Bandwidth costs; and
  • Staff costs.
As an example of creating a baseline, let us look at the measurement of bandwidth. It is obvious that the more bandwidth a company has, the faster communications over its network should be - yet this is not always so. Before throwing money at the problem, it would be prudent to first analyse the use of bandwidth using one of the many software analysis tools available. The problem may well be bad network configuration rather than inadequate bandwidth. This situation could be solved by adding a router or changing the network configuration.

In conclusion, measuring the ROI of an infrastructure will not cure operational inefficiencies. It will however improve processes and in so doing indirectly lower the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). website

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