3 Things for Your Firm to Consider in 2014

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 | Microsoft Exchange, Uncategorized, Windows 7 | Scott Randall

My dog – a one-year-old super-high-energy Weimaraner – is noisily cavorting through the office. This distraction, oddly, turned my thoughts to the IT dogs that are soon to wreak havoc (if they haven’t already) in many law firms.

Now is a great time to think about this.  Many law firms’ fiscal year is drawing to a close.  That means budget deliberations are underway.  So, here are three important things you need to consider when you decide how you’re going to invest in your firm next year.

Microsoft Exchange 2003

In case you didn’t know, 2003 is the year when Microsoft released this version of Exchange…it’s now 2013.  In software product years, ten is not unlike ten in dog years.

While we wouldn’t suggest this for your canine friends, we highly recommend you retire Exchange 2003.  Microsoft already has and earlier this year, Microsoft stopped supporting or patching 2003.  If you still use 2003, think about moving your calendars, contacts, emails and so forth to systems that Microsoft will actively support for years to come.

We recommend firms migrate to Exchange 2013.  Smaller firms that don’t integrate Exchange with other systems may find that Office 365 suffices.

Computer operating systems

Firms that once replaced PCs every three years have been pushing older computers to four or five years of service, or just replacing them as needed.  This makes sense given that the hardware is so powerful relative to a typical law firm’s needs and that the gains from upgrading don’t usually outweigh the costs.

If hardware was all there was to it, we could end the discussion here.  However, many of those older computers shipped with Windows Vista, or even XP. Microsoft will end support and patch management for XP in 2014, and Vista has been phased out of Microsoft’s product lineup.

If you’re in this situation, it’s time to move to Windows 7, a proven operating system, and reevaluate your hardware in light of Windows 7’s requirements.  We’re not ready to recommend Windows 8 because it’s the product of a unified computer-tablet-smartphone vision (a daring move on Microsoft’s part).  It’s different enough from everything else on the market that we can call it a true innovation.

Unfortunately, the differences from Windows 7 have kept businesses, including law firms, from adopting it in large numbers.  As a result, the install base, is still so small that we’re not sure how well Windows 8 handles the software our clients rely upon.

To complicate this matter, certain legal software vendors have yet to release Windows 8-compliant versions of their offerings.  Law firms are wise to stick to the tried and true, which in this case is Windows 7.

Disaster recovery and backup

Backup technology is far more robust and reliable than ever. Yet some law firms still cling to tape-based systems to back up their critical business data.

This makes us scratch our heads.  We’ve talked until we’re blue in the face about the benefits of online backup.  We recommend a product called AppAssure.  It works with both traditional and virtualized server installs, and it does a phenomenal job of point-in-time recovery of an entire system.

In Conclusion

If you’re using any of these three products, you have to question whether you manage your technology properly. These systems form part of your firm’s business foundation, so it is something you regularly need to check for cracks.

I’m not saying these three technology dogs are the only ones that could trip you up in 2014.  In fact, I might blog about other stuff we’ve seen that law firms really need to fix.  Meanwhile, if you have any concerns about technology that’s been around a little too long in your firm, let us know.  Please contact us at 1.888.221.8821 or email us at businessdevelopment@advancedlegal.com to speak to a Business Consultant.  We’d be happy to lend an ear.

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