David Gilliland is MKB Law’s Financial Controller. We last talked to him in mid-2013, two months into the new Cloud-based system hosted by Xperience Group. Now, one year on, David explains how the solution has more than lived up to its promise.

In summary, the Xperience Cloud solution has enabled MKB Law to:

  • Replace the existing on-site backup system and store critical data, email and databases in a secure, purpose built offsite location.
  • House critical software and virtual servers in a secure and resilient platform which is available from anywhere.
  • Speed up workflows, day-to-day operations and deliver a better service to clients.
  • Benefit from offsite monitoring knowing their IT Infrastructure is available 24/7
  • Be confident in a solution that would offer business continuity in the event of a major disaster so the business’s core can recover and be operational within hours.
  • The situation 12 months on

Ease of use and remote working

“The other thing we’ve noticed is the ease with which we are able to work from home - or from anywhere else for that matter. Before the Cloud, MKB Lawdid have an onsite system in place, a network that allowed us to log in remotely, but the new Citrix-based arrangement is extremely slick and secure. Users can access it from any device such as a tablet, mobile phone, desktop or laptop and also any platform.

“So, for instance, it’s just as easy to log on via an Apple Mac as it is via a Windows-based device, or to alternate between the two, something that used to be relatively tricky. Now you can just click and wherever you are you can view your entire desktop, just as you would at the office, whatever the device. This ease of use has encouraged quite a few of our directors to work at home without the distractions they’d get in the MKB Law Belfast office.

“Yes in theory we could have logged on remotely using the old arrangement, but it didn’t offer the reliability and ease of use our solicitors needed, especially with so many of them not being particularly technically minded!”

David explains that one of the directors admits some “difficulty” with IT in general, and had never been able to easily work from home before the new system was implemented. Now she “happily works from home” and it’s been a “real revelation” for her.

So, one year on, the system just ticks away quietly in the background. “In fact it’s integrated into the business seamlessly,” David says. “We no longer have staff complaints about things running slowly, being unable to open such-and-such or log on. It’s made my life as the IT manager much easier! On the very rare occasions we’ve had to call Xperience their support has been very good - the response time is usually the same day.

Return on investment?

“From an ROI perspective, I must admit that a hosted environment isn’t the cheapest option,” David says. “You can certainly buy and install local hardware at a lower cost, (based on considering a useful life of say 3-5 years) So really the decision comes down to the importance placed on, and the measurability of, other indirect costs and qualitative consdiderations. Issues such as the opportunity cost of directors’ and IT manager’s time plus the stress and administrative expense of having to replace on-site hardware every few years. If you take these kinds of things into account over, say, a five-year period, the cloud solution begins to make more economic sense.

“But, truthfully, it’s really about all the other derived qualitative benefits when using the system: never having to worry about the system slowing down, the ability to easily and securely access everything, from anywhere and on any platform or device plus the benefits of always having the latest software and hardware in place. So my advice to anyone considering whether or not to move to a hosted environment would be to take all of these factors into account.”

Finally, David believes that it’s important to view an investment like this as a business utility as you might with, say, energy costs. “We pay a monthly fee to Xperience and as we grow, or indeed if ever our business needed to contract - - the fee flexes up or down accordingly,” he says.

“For example over the past 12 months we’ve taken on a few staff and it’s been really easy to add them onto the system. You wouldn’t get this flexibility with a static piece of hardware with a fixed licencing model. Really and truly, the Cloud solution has made life so much easier and more productive; it allows MKB Law to have the flexibility to stay ahead of the game through the provision of legal services to an ever more technologically advanced new generation of clients. If we had to make the decision again today we would have no hesitation in saying an emphatic ‘yes’.”