Jennifer M. Ramovs and Catherine Sanders Reach
Excerpted from “How and Why to Document Your Firm Technology and Processes” from ABA TECHSHOW 2016
The first big question you may ask is why should you document your firm’s information? This is a daunting project, no doubt. The investment of time now can provide unlimited returns in the future and provide you with preparedness that will set you apart from other law firms when it really matters.
The first reason is disaster recovery. If anything goes wrong from a failed hard drive to a fire to a flood, you need to have a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan. Much of the plan will consist of actions, but those actions will be dependent on information that is documented and available. Many of us fail to consider the different varieties of “disaster” that can threaten our firm’s viability.
Document hardware and software. Determine what software applications people are using (name, manufacturer, version/edition), the frequency of each (daily, weekly, occasionally), and whether there are any problems to report with those applications. Keeping an inventory of all the hardware that is in use will also be necessary for insurance purposes, and if you have to “rebuild” after a disaster, you will have a handle on what needs to be replaced.
Part of a technology audit/inventory will be to determine what technology (software and hardware) your firm is using. Once that is established, you will need to document software licenses, user names, installed drivers, security updates, and service packs for each computer. That may sound difficult, but tools can help, such as software asset management.
One example is Belarc Advisor, which provides a free computer profile summary for an individual personal computer. It is useful if you need to reinstall software or work with IT support.
To manage this information for a number of computers, use products like BelManage, which runs about $1,800 for up to 50 monitored clients and provides organizational asset management, including software license optimizations, server and individual machine software discovery, and printers, IP phones, and mobile devices attached to the network. BelManage helps document this complex information, plus identify unlicensed, unauthorized, or obsolete software, and it also identifies missing security patches and service packs.
This type of software is commonly called “asset management” or “software asset management.” You can also track this information in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The point is to have it captured and keep it updated.
Registration for the ABA TECHSHOW 2017 is open. Reserve your spot today by taking advantage of the early-bird discount with the code EP1721. For a complete list of upcoming sessions like this one, go to techshow.com.