Many firms have come up with the reasoning to back making the move to Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based software suite. You must develop your firm’s own reasons and plan how you might address the issues you identify; depending on the results, you might want to take a staged approach rather than change everything at once. To figure out where you stand, let’s look at the current technology landscape, pinpoint issues that need to be addressed and describe how you can make the case for Office 365 being a viable option.
TECH FOR TECH’S SAKE IS NOT ENOUGH
Like other cloud services, Office 365 has altered how people are able to work, communicate and collaborate — but within the familiar programs of Word, Excel, etc. It allows law firms to securely access data, share information and work from anywhere on virtually any device. Office 365 is the great equalizer, bridging the capabilities gap between large firms and smaller firms. The potential for productivity gains is amazing. But this is all technology talk. What’s the business reason or the “story” for leveraging these technology changes at your firm?
YOUR CURRENT STORY: WHERE YOU ARE NOW
Keeping software solutions current and relevant is a constant demand on firms. Changes in the Microsoft world are coming at a far more rapid pace than ever before, making decisions about upgrading a bit different from the past. In fact, for those that have not started the process of moving from Windows 7 and Office 2010, the clock is ticking on how long Microsoft will continue to support those platforms. However, any change should still be a business decision that addresses business issues.
Change for change’s sake rarely results in the benefit hoped for. Roll out change and implement solutions that support the business of your firm.
YOUR NEXT STORY: WHERE YOU NEED TO BE
Law firms face many business issues, such as the drive for efficiency, the importance of security controls and the necessity of real-time communication and collaboration with clients. In the absence of a firm-sanctioned way to address these needs, people seek out their own solutions — and these actions can put the firm at risk. Below are a few real issues that may be part of your firm’s story, and we’ll show how the proper use of Office 365 can address them.
1. Collaboration: The demand for real-time collaboration with internal resources as well as with clients is on the rise. Some eager clients suggest solutions that are less than desirable from a security and information governance standpoint. This is a real business need, a pillar for your story. Office 365 provides a secure enterprise-class solution that allows you to place documents in a location where multiple people (inside and outside your organization) can concurrently access and edit them.
2. Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity: It’s critical that law firms provide an uninterrupted ability for people to work and bill. The cost of a robust, on-premises disaster recovery solutions is daunting, whereas Office 365 has the vast resources of Microsoft behind it. This means triple and quadruple redundancy that very few firms can afford on their own. If the power goes out in your building, you can just go to your local coffee shop and keep working.
3. Mobility: The ability to access important firm data and communications is an around-the-clock demand for law firms. Firm personnel often need to access this information quickly and from whatever device they have. If the information is in a secure and accessible place, then we are addressing the business need. Office 365 can store data in an enterprise-secured location that allows for this level of mobility. It also has mobile apps and fully functioning browser applications that allow you to not only review but also edit this content from any device.
4. Security: Firm personnel have an ethical responsibility to protect that which has been entrusted to them, and clients demand that security protocols, solutions and procedures are in place to protect their data. To meet these demands while still offering efficient access, mobility and collaboration, the data must be stored by a business-class solution with tight security controls. Each firm should do their due diligence to ensure they use only platforms that conform to these standards. Microsoft’s Office 365 security efforts are impressive and meet very high ethical and regulatory compliance standards.
SO WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
Office 365 has many products and services in its platform, and each has its benefits. The law firm’s responsibility is to decide what business issues need to be addressed and only roll out the components and connectivity options that solve those needs. Other components, such as its social communication service or external collaboration, can be hidden or disallowed until your business story has been pulled together.
Change for change’s sake rarely results in the benefit hoped for. Roll out change and implement solutions that support the business of your firm. Your story is compelling — write it well.