Outsourced IT, or managed IT services, means placing some or all of your information systems in the hands of an outside technology consulting firm (or Managed Service Provider). In many cases, law firms will opt to outsource when they don’t want to handle their IT in-house, or when they want to supplement their existing IT team with a scalable, expert resource.
When it comes time to choose between insourcing and outsourcing, one of the first questions to come to a firm’s leadership is undoubtedly how much it's going to cost. It’s a question we at Optimal have encountered over and over again over the past two decades, and one we’re always happy to explore.
As you can imagine, there are a number of elements to consider when it comes to figuring out what a firm’s specific investment will look like—especially given the application and uptime demands that are particular to law firms.
Below we will walk you through the main components of your outsourced IT investment, along with the costs that are associated with each piece.
What are the components of outsourced IT for law firms?
As a general rule, managed IT services are billed on a usage basis; this means that you pay for the services you’re actually being delivered, and that your provider is responsible for delivering those services to you.
Here are the main components of outsourced IT for law firms:
1. Infrastructure Maintenance/Management. This includes server monitoring and alerting (including patching and health checks), workstation protection (including patching, anti-virus, anti-spyware, and so forth), and firewall management (including configuration backups and firmware updates).
2. Backup & Disaster Recovery. While this component can sometimes be included with infrastructure management, we’ve segmented it out given how critical uptime and data protection is to law firms. For most firms, this will take the form of a comprehensive disaster recovery solution that not only backs up your data to multiple off-site locations, but has the capability to virtualize a failed server within half an hour.
3. User Support. This can be on-site or remote, and delivered on an unlimited or hour-by-hour basis. When signing on for a support package, check to see if the engineers you’ll be working with have experience with your Document Management and Time & Billing solutions.
4. Cloud Services. Cloud services can include file backups, hosted Exchange, or a full-on hosted desktop solution that removes the burden of servers altogether; your provider will be the one responsible for the actual computing, security, and maintenance elements of your network.
5. Strategic Consulting. In some cases, a firm will engage a CIO-level consultant to help vet and implement a new Document Management Solution, to coordinate with multiple vendors for large-scale upgrade projects, and to generally help align their technology decisions with their firm’s trajectory.
Generally speaking, managed service providers will allow you to subscribe to whichever services you need on an “à la carte” basis; if there are only certain gaps that you need to fill with outsourced support, you need not sign on for the entire spectrum of services.
What is the average cost of outsourced IT for law firms?
What you invest each month depends wholly on the level of service that you subscribe to. Here, we’ll use a 50-person firm as a benchmark for what your costs may look like:
- 50-person law firm
- 2 regional offices
- 4 physical servers
- 2TB of data
- Interwoven for document management
- Timeslips for time and billing
- 2-person internal IT team (one at each location)
- Complete infrastructure maintenance (4 servers, 50 workstations, 2 redundant firewalls)
- Comprehensive backup and disaster recovery (all 2TB of data)
- Remote user support (all 50 users)
- On-site support (2 full days per month)
- Strategic consulting (2 full days per month)
Likely Monthly Investment: $11,000
If this same firm were to opt for a fully-hosted environment with an on-site component, they would be looking at closer to $13,000 per month for a hosted desktop solution that includes dedicated virtual servers for Timeslips and Interwoven (but without any server upgrade projects to worry about...ever).
The full range of pricing for law firms is rather large, but so is the range of possibilities as far as service combinations and level of depth. Fortunately, we outsourced IT firms will remove the guesswork and provide you with a customized quote that details the services we recommend to suit your needs, and exactly what they will cost you each month.
All you need to do is ask.