Inside Track: What Comes First the Software or the Hardware?:

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  • What Comes First the Software or the Hardware?

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    Sept. 3, 2014 –Whether you are starting out or upgrading your current system, there are some things you need to know before you make your purchase. In this video, Jeff Krause talks about choosing the software and hardware that’s right for your firm. Krause, an attorney who provides technology advice and service to law firms, is a speaker at the State Bar’s Business School for Lawyers program.

    Choose Your Software First – Don’t Limit Your Choices

    It seems logical to think about the computer before thinking about the software. According to Krause, this is the number one mistake. “If you pick the hardware first you can potentially lock yourself into limited software options,” he says. “For example, the Mac is a really nice computer, but you will have to purchase software products that run in the cloud because most of them cannot run locally on the Mac.

    “If you pick your software first, based on what you want to accomplish, then you know which hardware to choose,” says Krause who notes that a PC offers a lot of different software options.

    Lawyers need technology to help them do three things: communicate, be organized, and get paid. Essentially, those three things end up being your software tools –

    • Communication = email and word processing
    • Being Organized = document management and case management
    • Getting Paid = billing software or accounting software

    Once you determine what software you need, then it is time to choose the hardware.

    What Hardware Do You Need?

    The typical hardware an office needs includes: a PC and/or laptop, a printer, a scanner, a tablet, and a smartphone.

    “Do you want a desktop PC or a laptop or both?” says Krause. “The PC is used in a sit down environment with a large keyboard and large monitor or monitors. The laptop is more portable so you can get things done when you are at a seminar or coffee shop. Figure out what you want.”

    Krause recommends a laser printer because the consumables over time are much less and print quality is very good. He also recommends a scanner. “The one I personally recommend is the Fugitsu ScanSnap. It runs around $450 but it’s a wonderful scanner, and it comes with Adobe® Acrobat®, which is a $275 program.”

    As for tablets and smartphones, Krause says get something that you are comfortable with depending on the products you are running. Almost all of them include email, contact lists, calendars, and so on.

    “You need a fax number and a way to send and receive faxes, but that doesn’t mean you need to invest in a fax machine,” says Krause. “There are different ways to do this including through a service where you pay about $10 a month or the service may be included with your phone service.”

    What’s the Best Way to Start Learning About this Technology?

    There are many resources to help you start up. Krause notes the State Bar Practice411 electronic list is a great resource. “You can ask just about any technology question on that list and somebody is going to have the answer,” he says.

    Krause also recommends attending the Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference, Oct. 23-25 in Wisconsin Dells, which offers an entire track of technology and grow your business sessions.

    About Jeff Krause

    Jeff Krause is an attorney and co-owner of Solfecta LLC, a technology consulting firm in Waterford. He provides technology advice and service to law firms. Krause is a speaker at Business School for Lawyers seminars.

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