It seems like there’s always a new must-have in the tech world, making it difficult to discern true technological advancements from flash-in-the-pan distractions. Cloud computing, an undeniably more convenient and secure way to manage law practices, is becoming the norm for many businesses—and has proven its value in our daily lives. We do everything—from consuming entertainment to conducting banking—through a virtually seamless stream of digital experiences in the cloud.
“That everyone else is doing something isn’t usually a good enough reason to join in, but cloud computing is the new normal and it’s becoming a case of evolve or die,” Mark Hill, chief information officer at Nigel Frank International, a global recruitment firm based in Newcastle upon Tyne, told Raconteur.
But what about cost? Most software as a service (SaaS) providers charge law firms a monthly fee that can feel disruptive when the firm has already invested in on-premise software. However, the cloud actually wins in the cost category, in a variety of ways.
We’ve outlined just a few of the ways cloud computing saves law firms money.
1. Lower hardware costs
Traditional on-premise servers are relatively expensive pieces of hardware that law firms must purchase before using on-premise software programs. Prices can vary widely depending on your firm’s needs—a one-socket server with minimal performance would cost less than £1,000, while a top-of-the-line enterprise solution for a larger firm would easily top £15,000. A small firm might budget about £3,000 for the server, its accoutrement, delivery, and installation, if needed.
Cloud computing, on the other hand, doesn’t require hardware at all—so this expenditure is reduced to £0.
2. Lower space costs
We’re focusing on saving pounds, right? We have to also consider the money you’re currently spending housing an on-premise server, either in your office or at a data centre. No matter where it’s stashed, there’s a cost associated to maintaining the area’s climate, as well as the square metres of space the server occupies that aren’t being used for other business functions.
Also, as you well know from your personal computer, tech hardware is intimately affected by temperature, so you may need to spend on heating or cooling costs, even when the office is empty.
With the cloud, there’s no in-house server to store, meaning you’ll save money on utilities and space.
3. Increased mobility
With an on-premise server, you’re a bit stuck in the office, aren’t you? When you or members of your team are out of the office—they can’t access important documents, meaning your firm might come to a halt the second anyone leaves your physical office.
Cloud computing is the opposite. It’s the difference between a television, DVD player, and a stack of “Downton Abbey” discs, and an iPad loaded with all of your favourite episodes, ready to go wherever you go. Firms earn money with this kind of fluidity that allows staff to check-in on work remotely.
4. Zero upgrade costs
We already discussed hardware costs, but that was initial capital. You’ll need to continually invest in upgrades and new hardware when your current on-premise server becomes technologically obsolete. It’s this cycle that prompted Dinesh Raja, managing partner at Bowling & Co Solicitors in London, to transition to cloud computing.
“When we compared the cost of moving our systems to the cloud with bringing in new servers the choice was obvious,” Raja told Pulsant for their May 2017 Legal Practice Management supplement.
Cloud computing wins out in this area as well, since SaaS providers consistently implement software updates to constantly improve performance and functionality. All of this happens automatically and without any additional cost to your firm.
5. Top-notch security
While some on-premise software enthusiasts have argued that private servers offer the highest level of security, the truth is murkier. Sure, you can easily see the physical location where your clients’ data is stored, but that doesn’t mean it’s safer. That’s kind of like assuming keeping piles of money under your mattress is safer than storing it in an FSCS-insured bank—the bank invests heavily in safes, security guards, and other safeguards to keep your money secure.
Without making a similar investment in keeping firm and client data secure, it’s difficult to say how secure on-premise servers truly are—and a breach could cost your firm: According to NatWest, 24% of firms experienced a fraud-related loss or cyberattack in 2016.
With cloud-based software, this investment in security is taken care of. SaaS providers take advantage of economies of scale to offer the strongest level of security for client data. For example, Clio spends hundreds of thousands of pounds each year on a dedicated security team, state-of-the-art technology, and strong process to limit the likelihood of an incident.
Securing data is a net-positive financial endeavour for firms, since client or employee data leaks could mean big fines under the General Data Protection Regulation.
Use the cloud, reduce tech costs
When it comes to cost, cloud computing wins over on-premise software options. Cloud computing saves your firm money on hardware and space, while also providing increased mobility and economies of scale that allow cloud-providers to invest extensively in security.
Want to learn more about what the cloud can do for your firm? Read The Quick Guide to Cloud Computing for Law Firms.