Microsoft Office 365 (now Microsoft 365) has come a long way since its introduction in the early 1990s. Back then, it included a simple toolset: Word for word processing, Excel for spreadsheets, and PowerPoint for presentations. At the time, Microsoft Office was a revolutionary productivity suite capable of generating complex business documents. The days of one-size-fits-all productivity solutions are gone though. Today’s businesses require applications that adapt to a rapidly-changing market, helping companies accommodate the unexpected. Law firms deal with the unexpected all the time. That’s where a Cloud solution featuring Microsoft 365 comes into play.
What is Microsoft 365?
Microsoft 365 is Microsoft’s collection of key services and applications. From the tools you’ve come to expect like word processing and spreadsheets, to newer applications based on collaboration and communication, Microsoft 365 includes dozens of solutions.
Microsoft 365 is the industry leader against which other business applications are judged. Its core applications have a 30-year head start over many competitors. Microsoft spent those three decades polishing the product’s look and refining its ease of use in order to create a streamlined user experience across multiple industries.
One of the key advantages of Microsoft 365 is its accessibility. The applications are no longer a memory-hungry download. Instead, they are part of a Cloud service, meaning important tools and documents follow you wherever you go—a clear advantage for busy law firms with a large volume of business.
What Does Microsoft 365’s Core Suite Include?
The core of Microsoft 365’s Cloud service still revolves around the set of essential applications professionals have come to expect. Those core features include:
Word gives your employees the world’s most fully-featured word processing software. Excel gives users interactive, data-driven spreadsheet development capability. PowerPoint lets users create slideshows and presentations, and Outlook is Microsoft 365’s email service.
OneNote allows users to take notes in a wide range of formats including text, audio, and handwritten notes. OneNote works on PCs, laptops, and mobile devices, making it easy for your team to share detailed meeting notes wherever they might be. OneNote is easily augmented through the use of Excel, Exchange, and many of Microsoft 365’s other tools.
In terms of productivity, Microsoft Teams is Microsoft’s collaboration software—perhaps its most valuable tool. Through Teams, members of your firm chat with other employees, conduct video conferences, exchange documents, edit information using other core Microsoft tools, and otherwise maintain communication while working remotely. Teams integrate the best features from Microsoft 365’s complete set of tools to create a virtual office space.
Other Notable Applications
While Microsoft 365’s core applications are the key tools that drive your business’s day-to-day operations, Microsoft’s Cloud service offers dozens of other applications aimed at increasing productivity. Microsoft 365’s full advantage comes from the way in which each of these tools interacts to build an efficient workflow tailored specifically to your company. Some of the more notable applications include:
Microsoft Access is a database application, organizing vast amounts of client information into a consolidated, searchable format.
Bookings revolutionizes your company’s scheduling functions, making client and staff meetings a breeze. You can customize bookings to sync with your staff’s calendars so everyone is on the same page. You can also make the application customer-facing, giving your customer the option to select their own appointment times.
Where does Publisher come into play? Between a word document, a spreadsheet, and design software. With Publisher, your firm can create professional-looking brochures and reports that reflect the prestige of your business.
Edge serves as an alternative web browser to Google, Firefox, and DuckDuckGo. Microsoft created Edge specifically for businesses with a heavy focus on security and user-defined privacy settings. As an added bonus, Edge is compatible with other applications on Microsoft’s Cloud service.
Exchange is the backend email system to the core Outlook application. Exchange features a smart mailbox that learns from your employees’ habits and adapts itself to their workday. Through Exchange, users share and edit critical documents more efficiently than through a basic email service.
SharePoint is a web-based collaborative document management and storage platform that’s highly configurable. It provides a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from any device, giving groups (like Teams) a centralized, password-protected space for document sharing.
For law firms that want to get the most out of Microsoft 365, Forms is one of the most valuable add-on applications in the entire suite. Forms gives you access to custom-built business forms and legal documents. This is an indispensable feature for law firms that work with a variety of different critical documents.
How Does a Microsoft 365 Cloud Service Impact Your Firm’s Productivity?
Microsoft 365 gives your law firm a handsome toolkit to boost your productivity and drive your day-to-day business. Using Microsoft 365’s applications in concert to establish an efficient workflow for your firm is where a Cloud service like Microsoft 365 truly shines.
Tools like Teams, Exchange, and Access support remote collaboration, ensuring that business continuity remains intact regardless of the situation.
Core document applications like Word and Excel work in conjunction with more focussed apps like Publisher and Forms to ensure that your team members have professionally-crafted legal documents available at their fingertips. Microsoft 365 gives you a highly-customizable experience, creating a positive impact on your team’s productivity.
Cloud Solutions Through Vertex
Today’s Microsoft productivity suite has a lot more components than the original package. With more than two dozen specialized applications, it’s easy to customize your law firm’s workflow. Once you’re up and running with Microsoft 365, your firm will reap powerful benefits.
As with any new IT solution, there is a learning curve. It can be difficult to balance your clients’ needs while implementing a long-term IT strategy. That’s where Vertex’s Cloud solutions come into play.
We coordinate with your firm to establish a long-term IT strategy complete with security, hardware setup, software implementation, and ongoing support with an eye toward industry compliance. Our virtual CIO provides your company with its very own technology consultant well versed in all things Microsoft 365 to ensure that you get the most out of your productivity solution. To get started, contact Vertex today.