Is my law firm getting the best IT advice on implementing Microsoft 365?
- Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based replacement for Microsoft Office
- A new product, Microsoft 365 Solution for firms, adds additional features of value to law firms
- Implementation appears simple, but takes a great deal of technical savvy
- Poor implementation leads to breakdowns and lost productivity
- For the best advice and successful implementation, look to the right IT partner
Technology evolves, and Microsoft evolves along with it, offering Microsoft 365 as a replacement for Microsoft Office. It features the same applications you’re used to, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and offers premium features.
There’s now a new product aimed squarely at the legal profession: Microsoft 365 Solution for legal firms. It leverages file encryption technology that makes documents illegible without proper viewing permission if uploaded to SharePoint or OneDrive instead of your document management system, along with more features.
Sharing, integration, and automation have been made easier by Microsoft 365 for law firms with Microsoft’s partnerships for external chat and data visualization tools. Code-free automation is another feature using bots who mine your data to create a knowledge network for use within your firm.
If this all sounds a bit, well, technical, that’s because it is. Proper implementation is essential to get the most out of the new features and ensure data security.
In this article, we’ll discuss what implementation entails, why you need the right IT advice and partner, costs and challenges, and best practices for Microsoft 365 for law firms. It answers the critical question, “Is my law firm getting the best IT advice on implementing Microsoft 365.”
Implementation: What it takes and why doing it right is important
Deploying Microsoft 365 looks simple on the surface. The recommended steps after setting up your network include
- Setting up identities
- Implementing security
- Deploying software
- Setting up mobile device management
- Configure services and applications
- User training
A nice list of steps to check off, right? But the devil, as always, is in the details. Details like configuring permissions – who can access what and when – and implementing security, which includes those settings to encrypt sensitive documents such as blind subpoenas into OneDrive or SharePoint.
Without proper implementation, you’ll have everything from sign-in issues to crashes to a dialog box that says, “Outlook is not implemented,” which means you can’t send or receive email, not to mention suffering an avoidable cyber attack.
Your IT team bears the burden of proper implementation, maintenance, updates, and cybersecurity. Don’t have an IT team? Then you’ll appreciate this advice on finding the right partner for your implementation.
Implementing Microsoft 365 for law firms
Just as Microsoft has four phases for implementing the new features of Microsoft 365 for law firms, implementing Microsoft 365 has four phases of its own, and all rest firmly on the shoulders of IT, with an assist from other departments to smooth adoption.
- Plan the implementation - This includes gathering all information about your current IT infrastructure, including network architecture and DNS, authentication solutions, directory design, and certificates. It takes a strategic approach to devise methods for email coexistence, for example. Bandwidth also must be tested to know migration velocity.
- Prepare for the move to the cloud -The checklist for this phase includes creating DNS records to properly route domain traffic, cleaning up your on-premises active directory for syncing, installing helper tools, and configuring email. Your SharePoint online rollout plan will be activated, and existing content migrated. It’s at this phase that applications are installed and configured.
- Time to move on-premises content to Microsoft 365 - For this, you need a clear content strategy and a pre-migration audit. Vital steps include assigning licenses, holding employee education sessions, migrating mailboxes, changing DNS records, and moving existing files and folders. Then, after migration, full-scale testing of service functionality is performed.
- Activate your post-migration plan - This checklist includes setting a deadline for shelving legacy systems and doing ongoing, extensive training for employees since one major reason people go back to their old ways of working is the need for more training.
Success comes when everything is working well, and all employees and other end users are using the new platform. What this really means is success comes from getting the right advice and working with the right IT partner.
How to Evaluate Advice and Finding the Right IT Partner
When seeking advice about anything, you look for an expert. This isn’t the time to turn to friends, family, or even someone at another law firm. This is business, and you need the best possible advice. You want the skinny from an IT pro with years of industry knowledge, who knows how to plan cloud migrations and implementations, makes sure your law firm is secure, and knows exactly how your new technology will impact your unique business.
Evaluating IT Advice
When evaluating IT advice, you might look at metrics such as the number of clients, employees and how fast your law firm is growing. But metrics are just one component, and when it comes to technology, they may or may not mean much.
You should evaluate advice based on need. Your employees are a much better source of information than metrics. Do they have the tools they need to do their jobs well? Does a lack of technology hold them back, or is it too complicated?
Working with an IT partner: the benefits
You don’t have to go it alone. You likely didn’t get where you are without partners who contributed to your success. The same goes for your business. Whey you ally yourself with a partner with the experience and knowledge you need gives you a clear path to your objectives, including business success. An IT partner can
- Provide the technical tools that boost your business
- Implement projects quickly with expertise
- Improve business innovation
- Save money
That is if you choose the right partner.
Selecting the right IT partner
Aside from expertise, look for a partner that is committed and transparent – one that can meet deadlines, supply the contracted services, and has a solid team. The right partner will stand out because of the humans on its team: qualified and certified people with the right background.
Is the potential partner one of the top Microsoft solution partners in the United States? Have they won awards for cybersecurity? Are they committed to providing business-centric technology? How’s their record on downtime? And who are their partners?
The right IT partner:
- Will use best practices for implementation of Microsoft 365 for law firms, and make sure your firm realizes the maximum benefits from implementation
- Offers ongoing maintenance, support, monitoring, and evaluation
- Strategizes with you for long-term success
- Understands the importance of data security and uses state-of-the-art tools
- Knows the regulatory issues inherent with the law and ensures compliance
Your IT partner serves as a technology sherpa, guiding you along the path to the best technology for your business.
Microsoft 365 for law firms has some great features to boost productivity, mitigate human error, and keep mission-critical data safe. It does all this while providing the same apps (and then some) your employees are familiar with.
Implementation, however, is challenging, and much is at stake. Choosing the right partner will ensure success.
When you partner with Endsight, you’ll never have to ask, “Is my law firm getting the best IT advice on Implementing Microsoft 365?” Because you know you’re getting counsel from an IT vendor with more than 20 years of experience and recognition as one of the top Microsoft solutions partners.
We’re industry leaders in cybersecurity. Year after year, we’ve won a CRN Managed Service Provider 500 award in the Security 100 category. Endsight is your complete technology support solution to create optimal IT management and human-friendly technical support for small and medium-sized law firms.
It’s a cyber-sophisticated world, and that requires cyber expertise. Endsight’s core values bring not only peace of mind when it comes to data protection, but we also offer an honest partnership, commitment to your long-term success, and unparalleled, dependable service. Reach out today.
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