After many years of growth and success the dynamic leaders of delancyhill found themselves at a crossroads. Facing a down economy and growing costs in light of an economic recession that had deeply affected the firm’s client base, the pair earnestly examined their operations for areas of potential cost savings and efficiencies.
Recognizing the opportunity to offload an overpriced Class A office space in Downtown Miami, they made a bold decision that would help them weather the economic downturn and put the firm back in a fighting and recovering stance. They decided that “going virtual” or “dispersing” the Firm would be the answer to their challenge, but found themselves with many unanswered questions about how they could manage and sustain their operations without the use of a permanent physical office space. The team quickly recognized that technology would be an integral piece of the puzzle in fulfilling their goal of a cloud office law practice and engaged Invizio for consultation to determine their options.
“When we first contacted Invizio, we had no idea if what we wanted was even feasible,” says Michelle Delancy. “We hadn’t heard of any other firms that had done what we were attempting and so we were uncertain about what to expect”. It wouldn’t be long before delancyhill would discover the abundance of technology solutions that would underpin the firm’s transformation. “I remember the first meeting, trying to explain what everything would be like and getting a room full of curious and pensive faces,” says Kevin V. Michael, Managing Partner of Invizio. “It was as if everyone was caught between being amazed and inspired that technologies existed to realize their vision, and at a cost that was within their reach”.
After a series of consultations, phone conferences and numerous offline discussions, the vision of the aptly dubbed “delancyhill 2.0” platform soon became clear.
The goal of the platform would be to provide all employees ‘one-stop’ access to the firm’s data and applications from anywhere in the world. Mobile access to important data such as e-mail, case-related events and deadlines would be central to keeping everyone on the same page. The firm that was accustomed to physical paper and files would now have to embrace being paperless and a team of ultra-mobile staff and attorneys would now require ubiquitous access to the Internet for a wide-range of scenarios. The firm’s voice communication platform would now have to support the geographically distributed nature of the firm and the team would need to stay in contact and maintain internal cohesion by using instant messaging and videoconferencing solutions.
The solution that Invizio developed is comprised of a private cloud (or colocated) server and storage infrastructure housed at Verizon/Terremark’s world-class datacenter, the NAP of the Americas in Downtown Miami. Using this infrastructure, attorneys and staff now connect to a personalized virtual desktop that provides them access to all of the data and applications which are central to the operations of the firm. The firm’s pre-existing workstations were repurposed for use in home offices and each attorney was given a new multifunction device (printer/copier/scanner) to get documents into its cloud based servers.
To meet the new mobile reality of the firm, its attorneys were outfitted with new Dell Latitude laptops and Apple iPhones to stay connected with the pulse of the firm while on the go. To meet the challenge of a distributed workforce, delancyhill was placed on a hosted phone system (or PBX) solution that allows the firm to make/receive phone calls from IP based desk phones, or directly from their computers. The firm further adopted electronic faxing to reduce paper usage and streamline its workflow with respect to incoming faxes.
In addition to these changes, Invizio insisted that the firm correctly utilize its practice management software in order to enhance its workflow and for the proper management of the case documents, a requirement made even more important by the firm’s transformation. Finally, Invizio integrated the firm’s practice management software with its e-mail & collaboration platform Microsoft Exchange for on-the-go synchronization of calendar & contact data.
MAKING THE TRANSITION
The most critical component to any successful technology transition lies in helping people adjust to change, and reaches far beyond merely the hardware and software. delancyhill 2.0 would be no different. With a looming move date, Invizio successfully brought the new infrastrcture “live” two weeks ahead of the firm’s anticipated move and was able to train the entire delancyhill team on the new system and procedures while they were still in a familiar work environment. As team members settled into their home offices, Invizio provided the onsite assistance necessary to prepare their technology setup at home for their new reality as members of a virtual firm.
MANAGING IT ALL
After taking delancyhill 2.0 live, Invizio has continued to manage and maintain the infrastructure that it put in place for the firm.
Under Invizio’s Managed IT Services Plan, delancyhill’s systems are monitored 24/7 by Invizio’s team of engineers and receive ongoing security and update administration. Attorneys now zipping across town and sometimes across the world are able to receive technical support no matter where they are. Kyle Hurst, Invizio’s Chief Technology Officer says “They keep us busy, but it’s about as easy for us to support their team, as it is for them to connect to the cloud”. As a result of their shift in business and operational model, the firm now sees annual costs savings in excess of $100,000 and has began to experience what it’s like to grow on a fully virtual and dispersed business model. “Before when we thought of growing the firm, we always thought about our physical footprint first”, says Hill. “Now, our firm operates without boundaries. With a laptop and Internet, you can connect to our servers and become an official member of our team. It’s as simple as that.”
Our work with delancyhill later became the focus of a feature article in the June 2011 issue of Black Enterprise Magazine in an article entitled “Above the Clouds”. The article chronicles delancyhill’s decision and experience in moving to the cloud and our company co-founder Kevin V. Michael is quoted on the challenges of a virtual office workflow.
The Miami Today newspaper also ran a feature in November 2011 that highlighted the progress delancyhill made one year after transforming their practice.