Peer to Peer Magazine

Winter 2016

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 57 of 83

59 WWW.ILTANET.ORG Retaining Top IT Leadership FEATURES JIM BRITT Jim Britt is a Senior Director for HBR Consulting and has over 25 years of experience in technology consulting, business development and law firm management. Jim regularly speaks at industry and private events on a broad range of topics, including business continuity, IT infrastructure design and planning, security, risk management, and strategic technology planning. Contact him at As a result, firms –– particularly middle-market operations –– are finding it challenging to retain IT leaders to grow alongside the business. With the increasing demand for high-performing IT leaders, firms must take strategic steps to retain these professionals while continuing to aract new talent amid a competitive market. The Retention Challenge Law firms need IT leaders commied to puing the business first while strategizing and executing long- term visions for technology growth and cybersecurity. Geing the most out of existing talent is a top priority. Nurturing existing staff is a far beer use of resources than recruiting from outside the firm. IT staffing models have traditionally been built around specialization, but the question now is how to identify and support IT staff as they address problems spanning a wide range of systems while also learning to speak the language of business. If we fail in this, we could lose valuable team members. Many firms view IT solely as a cost center and are resistant to "paying ahead" to improve the talent pool. By sidelining operations teams in this way, firms actively prevent IT leaders from feeling empowered to pursue innovative tools and processes. This, in turn, impedes CIOs and IT executives from maximizing their roles as technology influencers and strategic business drivers within a firm. The consequences of failing to retain key staff members can affect the entire firm's success. Significant IT turnover racks up onboarding and ooarding costs, particularly because it oen takes longer for IT personnel to acclimate to a firm's culture and processes due to the specialized nature of IT work. Without a loyal IT staff that grows as technical and business requirements change, law firms risk exposure to system failures and the exploits of hackers. Strategic Moves To Improve Retention To retain talent, IT leadership must expand beyond the traditional incentive-and-reward structure. Here are steps firms should consider: » Perform a Skills Gap Analysis: Perform an annual assessment of needs versus skill sets in the department. Clarity in defining deficits and the skills needed to address them will assist in seing directions for staff development and providing new work opportunities. » Participate in Career Coaching: Commit to a program that helps IT staff members define career goals that correspond to the needs of the firm, and meet more than once a year to track the progress of those goals. Developing leadership and communication skills should be valued as highly as technical skills, especially for key staff members. » Take Calculated Risks: Expose people to new types of projects and technologies. Encourage team members to take on new responsibilities, and support them even when they make mistakes, without sacrificing the high quality of your deliverables. » Widen Peoples' Horizons: Find opportunities for key staff members to increase interactions with business management and aorneys, and ensure that staff members network to learn and grow from their peers' experiences. ILTA provides a rich environment for promoting this experience. » Identify Those with Success Factors: Managing across a complex and rapidly changing environment requires the ability to learn quickly, exercise judgment effectively, communicate well and improvise. Recognize staff members who have these skills –– they hold the keys to your firm's future success. In an increasingly competitive and complex legal market, recruiting and retaining high-performing IT leaders is critical to firm operations. Firms that continue to elevate and empower IT leaders will benefit from loyal IT staff who increase operational efficiencies, influence strategic technology investments and enable client service delivery in a secure manner. P2P

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