Outsourcing is not just about cutting costs in the short term.

I know firms that have outsourced certain functions only to bring them back in house because the transition did not go well, the provider did not deliver the cost savings promised, or the outsource partner didn’t provide a strategic road map focused on long-term efficiency gains. These cases saw lower costs and greater efficiencies initially, but provided no path for continued improvement.

The seeds of such disappointments are often rooted in the outsource partner’s lack of a clear understanding of a law firm’s culture and its long-term goals. Outsourcing is not just about cutting costs in the short term. Rather, it’s about increasing operational efficiencies on an ongoing basis, strategically and in ways befitting the culture of the firm.

Technology “know how” is key

Top law firms have now become savvy about outsourcing. They pay as much attention to strategic road maps as they do to the transition and immediate cost savings.  It’s important to determine whether the outsource partner has a long-term view, as well as the technology to implement it.

How will the outsource partner continue to increase efficiency and lower costs over a period of time? What technologies or process improvements does it have to streamline workflows and automate processes? These are questions firms should ask up front during the evaluation process.

92 percent of respondents said they use outside technology consultants.

This shift to outsourcing technology expertise and strengths is reflected in the 2015 ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing study where 92 percent of respondents said they use outside technology consultants, up 11 percent since 2013.

Deliver tighter integration

A strategic outsourcer has tools to overcome the alignment and integration challenges that stifle information access in many organizations. According to research from IDC commissioned by Ricoh, half of employees need access to more than six databases or repositories to do their job, but only 18 percent are able to search across them. At law firms, I’ve seen attorneys struggle to get information from 10 to 12 different systems to respond to a request for proposal. Knowing up front that your outsourcing partner is a trusted legal IT adviser will eliminate this misalignment.

With the right technology, an outsource partner could build an asset management portal that pulls that information together in one place. Such tools help firms preserve brand integrity and give staff a repository for materials that will ultimately help grow business.

When evaluating potential outsourcing partners, ask them to explain how they will use their skills and technology to reduce costs and increase efficiency not just today, but well into the future.

If you’re ready to re-evaluate your outsourcing strategy, Ricoh’s professional services team can help.