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Send in the auditors

13 July 15

Legally IT: A technology audit reveals the capabilities of each person in your team and identifies any proficiency gaps before you start on processes

by Michelle Hynes

My grandmother has just turned 91 years old. Recently she called me on her mobile and told me about a funny cat video she had watched on Facebook. Can you imagine a 91-year-old being tech-savvy enough not only to use a mobile phone but to use Facebook too? I am certain she didn’t go to any classes about it, and in fact I am certain she has tech skills that she is still unaware of.

Look around any legal practice and you can now be certain that most of the team will have a mobile phone for work and personal use. Is it enough to assume that they know how to use it effectively to maximise productivity? You can bet they didn’t attend any classes either, and if your team is like every other team then you might find they have learned how to use technology by simply picking it up at home and giving it a go. Maybe their grandmother, or children, have shown them how to use their new mobile phone or iPad.

Is it OK to assume that your team knows how to log in to work from their mobile phone? Is it OK to assume that they know how to access your client records remotely? Is it wise to assume that if they need or want additional training in technology, they will form a queue at their manager’s door?

As part of legal re-engineering, it is important to look closely at the toolbox of technology skills in your firm by using a technology audit.

So what exactly is a technology audit? I like to think of it as a technology snapshot. An evaluation of (a) technological skills, (b) technological procedures, and (c) needs of the firm. It is a method of identifying the strong and weak points through the characterisation and general assessment of the firm’s basic knowhow (marketing, management, finance, human resources, etc). It is a process of analysis, which leads to proposals, an action plan and of course progress. It is based on the structure: data, analysis, synthesis, report, action.

It should be stressed that the technology audit itself cannot solve fundamental problems, provide immediate benefit, rectify faults or be a substitute for organisational difficulties, but it is a good baseline starting point for any firm looking to harness the power of their people combined with technology.

I specifically mentioned using a mobile as an example, but the content of your technology audit should encompass all types of technology embraced by the firm. This may include BYOD (bring your own device), CRM database management, mobile phone use, laptops and iPads, skype, and use of telephony and apps.

Imagine designing new processes to embrace technology, only to find that none of your team has the necessary up-to-date skills to carry out the work? A technology audit can identify areas where skills can be nurtured, cultivated and developed and can assist in the design of new legal processes. Next month we will look in more depth at how you might conduct the audit.

Michelle Hynes is legal process engineer at Inksters Solicitors, a firm that embraces technology, people and innovation. You can reach her at Michelle@inksters.com or follow her on Twitter: @legaleaglemhm  

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