Knowledge more important than price for law firms choosing IT suppliers

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9 October 2014

Dan Shooter-Smith

Shooter-Smith: Too much emphasis on expanding internal knowledge

Specialist knowledge and expertise are more important than price or consistency of delivery for law firms choosing an IT supplier, research has found.

More than a quarter, 27%, of senior technology staff at law firms said knowledge and expertise were the most important criteria, while 22% said price, 11% cultural fit and 9% consistency of delivery.

Only a small minority, 5%, thought “size and scale” were most important and even less, 3%, cited “agility”, according to the survey by IT consultancy Software Quality Solutions (SQS).

More than half of legal IT staff (56%) said they preferred to work with a combination of large and small specialist suppliers when outsourcing IT projects.

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Only 9% preferred to work with a large “one size fits all” supplier while 13% preferred a small, specialist supplier.

Law firm IT specialists were divided about the main challenges when dealing with suppliers. A total of 19% put lack of knowledge retention in first place, followed by 18% suggesting poor accountability for successful delivery and the same proportion lack of flexibility.

A slightly smaller group, 16%, cited unclear objectives, with two groups of 12% identifying inadequate performance management and lack of team chemistry. Only 5% thought lack of cultural alignment was the biggest problem.

Dan Shooter-Smith, senior legal consultant at SQS, said: “Legal businesses are potentially putting too much emphasis on building and expanding internal IT knowledge and skills or on working with large suppliers who are tasked to deliver quickly, rather than outsourcing to multiple specialist suppliers.”

Mr Shooter-Smith said that law firms which decided to use multiple suppliers must “rethink” their strategy to avoid fragmentation of service delivery and problems with who was accountable for what.

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