Over recent issues, we have covered hosted systems in a number of ways, including reviews of several products and services, with comments from users. In this article, we look at the DPS hosted solution.
Founded 25 years ago, DPS Software is one of the UK’s leading providers of case management and accounting software with over 600 user firms. They were the first successful supplier of case management systems in the legal market and their software includes key work areas like Conveyancing, Crime, Matrimonial, Personal Injury and Wills and Probate. There is also a fully integrated Accounts system and Digital Dictation.
They have been supplying hosted solutions, and developing the infrastructure necessary to do this, for the past 10 years. There are now around 70 firms using the DPS hosted solution – a doubling in numbers since a year ago. A major reason for the upsurge in interest is the increasing availability and decreasing cost of the high-speed internet lines necessary for a hosted system to perform well. Until relatively recently, the need for expensive internet connections has made hosted systems an expensive (and tricky) option but the cost of communications is no longer a barrier as prices have plummeted across the board.
This has moved the benefits of hosted IT well within the reach of most legal practices and these benefits are enough to make anyone involved in the operation of a legal firm sit up and take notice.
DPS Software offers a one-stop-shop approach to implementing a hosted solution in the legal practice. As DPS Managing Director, Osman Ismail points out, “With DPS there are no middle men or hosting partners – we host the IT of legal practices in our own secure data centre which is maintained by our own experienced engineers. All the firm’s IT needs, both hardware and software, are catered for and supported by DPS.”
Here are some of the features of the DPS system:
- DPS Case Management, Accounts and Digital Dictation are fully updated and maintained and all available from the hosted platform. All applications are updated automatically for the user.
- Citrix, Windows and operating systems are all updated automatically by DPS.
- MS Exchange, Office and SQL products are all managed and archived periodically.
- Outlook web access. All users are able to access their entire Outlook application over the internet from any browser with no additional software or Citrix connectivity required.
- DPS web access. Users can access the DPS system over the internet inside a browser, including on mobile devices.
- Data security. Hosting with DPS means that data is stored in a secure data centre and regularly backed-up both on – and off-site. The solution provides spam-filtering and virus protection software.
- The solution provides high-level business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities.
The hosting model offers fixed monthly costs, minimal initial outlay and scalability. DPS hosted solutions are charged per head and a firm’s costs will only increase when staff numbers increase.
Comments from users
Here are comments from three users of the DPS hosted system. Despite these generally positive comments, I would point out that hosted systems do also have their problems as indicated in the separate article by Chris Cann on things which you should check before embarking on this route.
Comments from Jo Sargeant of Bailey Nicholson Grayson
BNG are a 3 branch criminal law firm in London, Hertfordshire and Kent employing solicitors, advocates and police station representatives. We also have a prison law team. We are just under 50 employees.
We have used DPS software for over 8 years, initially just the case management but then adding the accounts application in 2005. At about this time we became hosted clients.
I have no maintenance headaches with the hosted solution and I can relax in the knowledge that everything is pretty much managed for me. DPS are quick to respond to changes introduced by the LSC and often I hear about an update from DPS before I hear about it from the LSC. New releases are loaded for me and accompanied by comprehensive release notes that I can issue where applicable to users.
Problems? Initially I had to deal with the fact that I couldn’t get at our live data and I had to work with DPS technical dept to come to a solution. I write my own reports on our database using Crystal, MS Excel etc and am used to the SQL server environment and having direct access to data. Understandably, DPS could not compromise data security and integrity by allowing me a direct link to our data in their hosted environment so we came up with a compromise which is that they give me SQL database backups which I restore into my own environment. I can then write my reports which I send back to them to apply to our system.
DPS are very quick to respond and help our office based staff and when required can login in remotely to assist our non office based staff, wherever they are. We have rarely even had to discuss what is in or outside the scope of our software support contract.
We also use DPS to host our MS Exchange and Office systems. Our users simply log in to the DPS Citrix hosted environment to access their whole desktop solution including email, word processing and case management. I don’t have to worry about keeping versions up to date, licensing, disaster recovery or potential compatibility issues.
We use the hosted digital dictation solution successfully at all of our branches. One branch has an in house team of secretaries with one of the team now working from home and the other two branches use an evening typist only who is self employed. This allows us to turn work around very quickly and also if the in house team are struggling with their workload, we can call upon our external typing resource. Fee earners can use time waiting at court to dictate letters and other documents and then come into the office and upload their work which then goes into the job queue to be picked up by one of the typists in a pool or a specific person is the job is of a highly confidential nature.
The DPS hosted system is a great solution for our business with our 3 offices sharing resources in some instances. I personally split my time between the office and home and have access to everything I need with a very simple one-off client install onto my laptop. I can rest in the knowledge that if our staffing model follows the route of more home working in future, then our system can cope with this.
Comments from Steven Bird of Birds Solicitors
We are a criminal defence practice based in Wandsworth with an additional prison law office the other side of London. We have 7 in house solicitors, three paralegals and 2 to 3 admin staff. We have 10 consultants who do not work from the office, some of whom use DPS constantly.
We have used DPS software (case management and/or practice management) since 2000.
The DPS hosted system allows access from home or court or in conference with counsel. This is a major advantage. Anyone can access the system wherever they are and it works in the same way as if they are in the office. Also we are relieved of backing up data and risk management if there is a fire etc in the office.
We also use DPS to host our MS Exchange and Office systems. We scan post and drop it into folders on the server so everyone can see their post wherever they are and it can be dragged onto the DPS file.
Problems? It is a problem if the internet connection goes down and this has happened several times, sometimes for a long period. Then you are at the mercy of the internet connection in your area. People may be able to work from elsewhere but the office itself cannot work if the internet is down in the office exchange.
We also use the remote server for storage of case evidence in electronic format while cases are live. This means everyone can access them if more than one person working on a case. Transfer to the F drive can be slow for large files especially during peak times.
It is a great freedom to be able to work remotely whether you are working at home or need access from court or someone else’s office. Your entire file collection is with you at any time as long as you have an internet connection. It is quick – just like working on a desktop and allows multiple persons access to material at the same time. It is safe and secure in the case of disaster.
Comments from Carol Remy of Hadens Solicitors
Hadens are a 4 partner firm in the West Midlands with one office, offering Private and Business client support with additional expertise in the Education and Medical sector.
We have been using the DPS Cashier and Case Management system for the past 4 years and we made the decision to switch to the hosted version in December 2010.
Our experience has been extremely positive. We have several fee earners who work remotely. They can now access their files via the case management module, and also view the financial information (for example the WIP entries, office and client entries). All this has made it so much easier to work when not in the office. We also use DPS to host our MS Exchange and Office systems.
Problems? It is not exactly a problem, but our experience has allowed us to appreciate how important the communication channels are prior to and during the project management process. I would say that to guarantee a successful conversion, the firm must get involved with the process and must appreciate that some housekeeping beforehand is necessary.
I would add that the success of our conversion was also due to the excellent and responsive telephone and on-site support received from DPS and that as a client we were given the opportunity from the start to say what we needed and wanted, as opposed to just being told what was on offer.
The hosted system has provided us with a lot more flexibility and has also made us as a firm completely disaster free in regards to the IT side of our business.
Delia Venables is joint editor of this Newsletter.