At a 50-attorney California firm, computers and phones were so slow and unreliable that they were hindering the practice of law rather than supporting it. Partners were finding that discussing and deciding on what investments to make to improve their environment was consuming a great deal of time and attention that would have been better spent on serving clients. The firm engaged Kraft Kennedy to perform a comprehensive review of its technology and IT department and to advise it on how to proceed.
A management consultant spoke with the firm’s partners and users to understand its struggles and goals for the future. With these in mind, he looked at the firm’s policies and planned projects, and worked with Kraft Kennedy’s technical consultants, who reviewed the firm’s front- and back-end technology, to put together a strategic IT plan for the firm for the next several years.
The plan included a comprehensive technical design with a line-item budget and a timeline that took into account how various projects would affect one another. Among the recommendations, Kraft Kennedy included a turnkey, on-premises phone solution that would integrate telephony, video-conferencing, instant messaging, and online collaboration with Outlook email, contacts, and calendars, as well as other desktop systems. To improve connection speeds, Kraft Kennedy recommended that the client replace private network (MPLS) between most offices and use a current, Internet-based approach as a backup, as well as add a secondary Internet connection in its other office. With the consultants’ help, the firm was finally able to ascertain which email, server, and database upgrades to make, and how to reduce risk by replacing certain servers with outdated warranties. The firm was also provided with a list of low- or no-cost projects that could be completed quickly to improve operations and security.
Consultants saw that communication between IT and the partners was severely lacking, a primary reason for the state of the firm’s technology. They created a new staffing chart designed to allow the firm to better define roles and reporting structure. Kraft Kennedy coached IT leadership throughout the course of the project, and, as an effective liaison between those investing in solving the firm’s problems and the people who would carry out the plans, Kraft Kennedy was able to build consensus and enact real progress.