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Is It Time for a Technology Health Exam at Your Firm?

Companies have made substantial technology investments over the past two decades as they focus on digital transformation. But now, rising cloud costs have become a pain point for legal businesses. To tackle runaway cloud spending, firms must find and address inefficiencies in their deployments.

Ben DeBow

Many firms started moving to cloud-based data storage, because it’s easier and usually cheaper than keeping files on physical servers or in file cabinets. As more clients and files accumulate, a firm doesn’t need to create extra office space or digital storage capacity. And with cloud computing, multiple lawyers can collaborate efficiently by adding comments simultaneously on documents. According to the LawPay & MyCase 2022 Legal Industry Report, 81% of law firms use cloud-based software.

But there’s much more to tech expenses than the cloud. Whether your law firm is looking to reduce its cloud costs and/or other tech-related outlays, leaders can learn actionable solutions for managing and optimizing technology health and costs. That way they can maximize the efficiency of the enterprise’s entire tech stack — and deliver measurable value to the bottom line.


Ensuring the stability, reliability and predictability of applications and systems is critical for law firms. Technology performance impacts everything from attorney productivity to client service levels. Even minor degraded performance or intermittent slowdowns can negatively affect firm operations and bottom lines.

However, optimizing the health and efficiency of the underlying technology is complex. Comprehensive workload analysis requires tracking numerous technical and financial metrics over time across the hundreds or thousands of servers and applications. This level of sophistication often exceeds the capabilities of legal IT teams and without expertise in workload analytics, firms cannot derive the full benefits. 

Bridging these information and skill gaps is key for law firms to keep pace with the increasing data and business growth. Workload optimization enables legal IT teams to find and gain efficiencies by analyzing the critical workload metrics and mapping them to strategic recommendations required to boost the application performance. By focusing on workload analytics, firms can:

  • Identify performance bottlenecks that impact productivity.
  • Right-size servers and resources to improve efficiency.
  • Consolidate redundant or underutilized tools to reduce costs.
  • Identify usage trends to optimize licensing models.
  • Determine infrastructure upgrades providing the best ROI.
  • Implement data lifecycle management to optimize costs.
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Law firms as well as companies across all industries will struggle to control tech costs until they get a handle on the total cost of ownership (TCO). In IT, TCO can include the acquisition of hardware and software, implementation, licenses, management, maintenance, support, training, end-user expenses, etc.

It’s my belief that technology leaders today don’t fully comprehend the TCO of all the different technology platforms they’re migrating or purchasing, especially when they go to a utility — or pay-for-what-you-use — model, which is how they pay for computing, or software, in the cloud. Conventional wisdom dictates, “You have to be in the cloud,” but then there is sticker shock once you get there because most applications were written 10 years ago and were not designed with efficiency in mind. This is like buying a new energy-efficient house but then putting in 1960s appliances.

“Technology performance impacts everything from attorney productivity to client service levels. Even minor degraded performance or intermittent slowdowns can negatively affect firm operations and bottom lines.”

The choices we make for our enterprise applications in terms of design, coding, processes and data modeling all have lasting impacts on the bottom line, both from a resource perspective, but more importantly on the financials and margins. For example, inefficient code created today will cost more in support and maintenance down the road, independent of the resource cost. Inefficiency has a price, and unfortunately, this price is often overlooked when calculating tech costs.

The challenge today in tech is the lack of transparency into cloud costs. Cloud bills provide only high-level data that lags actual usage by 30 days and often leverages made up cost units. This prevents detailed analysis of spending drivers and what is actually driving the costs. At best, cloud providers break down costs by resource or server, which is a great start but leaves organizations with more questions. This gap limits your firm’s chief financial officer’s (CFO) ability to optimize cloud investments.

For example, our analysis has shown that the top 1% of processes within a database consume on average over 50% of total cost. Without granular insights, firms cannot identify and address these biggest cost culprits. Instead, legal and most IT departments make changes based on guesswork, not data-driven insights. Firms overpay for unused capacities and underutilized tools and continue to support redundant systems and processes.

Having financial transparency into the cost of your technology systems means knowing three things: the cost of the technology, the value of the technology, and the cost “takeouts” or costs of efficiency improvements that could be reduced or eliminated. Companies need transparency into the true costs of applications, code and data to understand the true costs of their systems. That can only occur by forging and strengthening partnerships between technology and the CFO’s office.

And to optimize the costs of technology, you need to understand not only the costs you’re incurring today but also how these costs will compound over time. It’s not just making the technological changes but also proving and recognizing their business value that is missing from the way things are done today.

The truth is few organizations know for sure how healthy and what the capacity of their technology environment is today and how much it will be able to support tomorrow. All they know is what they see in the large quantities of data being collected as applications and databases process more and more business transactions and data every day.

Understanding workload analytics and identifying inefficiencies within your technology platforms can save enterprises millions of dollars. These savings can then be reallocated back to the business and used to find ways to deliver more value.