Scanning's Role in Enhancing Technology ROI

Awareness of what technology can consume from a firm's cash flow, as well as from lawyers' billable time, gives a true picture of the return the firm gets on its technology spending. It should be a given that all technology investments must provide a return to the firm. A 10-percent return is usually considered too low to make the purchase (investment) unless there are other factors involved, such as new services it allows the firm to offer or greater efficiency that it provides.

There is no one right or correct rate of return. The return selected or expected is a function of personal choice, available alternatives, and available resources for investment. Because there are invariably a number of technology expenditures competing for priority, using ROI is a great way to rank them in the order of financial preference. Then, depending on the budget and resources available, the most productive or profitable investment can be made first.

Projected ROI is often thwarted by human considerations: support staff and lawyers can resist change, be afraid of the new technology, and have no emotional investment in its use. In any of such circumstances, the technology languishes until it becomes obsolete, with little of the expected savings or profits. In addition to up-front cost, ROI is affected by the time needed to learn and implement the new technologies, uncertainty that the new technology will increase efficiency, and difficulty integrating new technology into the life of the firm.

Thinking through the purchase and getting as many people as possible committed to using the technology before it is bought is the best way to achieve the level of usage that enhances ROI. That is why desktop scanning equipment has one of the highest ROI measurements of any technology investment. Desktop scanning is convenient, requires no extensive or complex training, involves modest up-front expense, and can easily be integrated with computer equipment currently being engaged by the law firm. Moreover, the wide range of essential tasks that scanning facilitates – from client file management to document discovery in litigation – means that its cost can easily be leveraged and absorbed.

Technology ROI calculations need not be complex. Nor do such calculations need be precise in order to be useful. The low up-front cost (for equipment and time) and high enhancement to efficiency and quality of work give desktop scanning an investment return that is easy to calculate and appreciate.

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