If you have taken the plunge and subscribed to Office 365 Business Premium you are likely aware that the Office suite (Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel) is now not only installed on the desktop but also has a cloud component, syncing your work and making sharing easier. However, you may not be as aware of additional tools and features your firm may have with this subscription that may change the way you do work. Let’s explore!
Teams is a collaborative space that lets law firms create a space to easily share files, chat, assign tasks, hold online meetings, and share notes. For instance, create a team for a practice area. Then create a channel for a specific matter. In the channel the team can hold conversations that are threaded and stay within that channel (so you aren’t hunting for old emails). Conversations also records activity within the Team for a quick view of any activities such as new files added, new team members, and other activities. Upload files to share with the team. If someone updates the file the team will see when and by whom the file was updated. Sharing permissions are set to allow only Team members to access the files. Add a wiki for organizational notes. Add Planner to manage tasks and assignments, which can be viewed as a board, a chart or a calendar. Click the plus sign to add other tabs to Teams, such as other tools you use like Evernote, OneNote, Trello, and many more apps. Team members can email into Teams. Teams can be access via the web, viewed as a downloaded app on the desktop and is available for iPhone and Android.
Bookings makes it easy for your clients to schedule appointments with you without the back and forth on available times. Bookings also sends confirmation, reminders, updates and cancellations, all without you having to manage the process. Bookings looks at your calendar for free/busy times, but can also be set up with buffers, such as allowing only a certain number of appointments to be scheduled on a day and the amount of time between appointments. You can also set up policies for minimum and maximum lead time so you don’t have a surprise appointment in the morning. You can allow clients to choose a particular person to book time with, customize your page, add services (like “initial consultation”, “request for information”, “case status”, etc.) add a logo and more. You can even add a payment processor to take payments for meetings (only global admins can set this up).
If you have heard of Zapier or IFTTT you know that law firms are taking advantage of automated workflows to reduce administrative headaches. Office 365 has a similar tool available to automate workflows between apps, files and data. Not restricted to only Microsoft products, Flow can help with lots of manual tasks in more the 220 services. While many of the connectors are available with the Business Premium subscription, some services like Salesforce are “premium” and require an additional fee. The best way to learn about Flow is to look at examples of how other people use it. You can even join a Flow community!
If you want an app that tracks mileage for you and then sends you a weekly report this app is available for unlimited miles through your Office 365 Business Premium account. The app runs on your phone and GPS will, of course, need to be turned on. You can swipe left for personal drives, right for business drives in the app and add details for parking fees, tolls and the associated client or matter. You will have a web dashboard and get a weekly report that can be exported to a spreadsheet (.csv), Freshbooks or Xero.
There is a lot more to explore in MS Office 365 as the product is constantly getting updated with new features and functions (and losing some as well). Take advantage of the tools your firm now has through this subscription!
Catherine Sanders Reach is the Director of the North Carolina Center for Practice Management. NCBA members, click here to learn more about how the Center for Practice Management can help you. NCBA CPM: Practice Smart.