Should I Be Thinking About Office 365
For most lawyers, Microsoft Word, Outlook, and other products are familiar parts of their everyday life. Should they follow the growing cloud software movement, and consider adopting Office 365?
When you open up a document or start a spreadsheet, you probably don’t think too much about the software underpinning your task.
However, not all document management suites are created equal. For partners who are looking to help their legal team become more efficient, the Microsoft Office 365 suite can be a great place to start.
What Are the Advantages?
Flexibility – an Office 365 license can be downloaded on up to five devices at any time. This allows you to have your products on your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, and mobile. (You even get free mobile apps). If you replace one of these devices, you can continue on your new device with no issues. Standard Office subscriptions are tied to one device, so a new computer would mean a new Office purchase of the whole Office suite.
Collaboration – have you ever wasted time trying to align different versions of the same document via email? With Office 365’s SharePoint, multiple people can edit a document simultaneously. This means all changes are immediately incorporated into the master version. You can also share documents with individuals outside the organization, such as clients, barristers, or trial attorneys. The owner of the document can control who has access to edit the document. This ensures that only authorized people can make changes.
Much more than just documents – an Office 365 E3 plan comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Teams, Planner, Skype, and Access. This allows you to do so much more than just creating Word and PowerPoint documents. You can communicate via Teams, plan workloads using Planner, store your documents in OneDrive or SharePoint, and communicate with clients and colleagues via Skype. Office 365 can support communication on a number of levels.
Your Office 365 account can improve internal collaboration through digital communication. This means larger organizations can eliminate the need for other tools such as Slack or Asana.
Security – moving to the cloud can be seen as risky, but not with Microsoft. They are the most certified data center provider in the world and offer enterprise-grade data security to all users. This is a great advantage for SMEs, who would be unlikely to afford the same level of protection on an in-house server.
Some of the key security features include data encryption both at rest and in transit, email encryption, multi-factor authentication, administrative access controls, 24/7 threat management & security monitoring, and built-in antivirus and anti-spam.
Up-to-date software – with Office 365, software updates happen automatically, so you always have the most recent version. This firstly is a security advantage – as patches for security issues are implemented automatically (reducing the likelihood of a WannaCry-style breach). It also means that you don’t have to spend a large lump sum each time the ‘next version of the software comes out.
Pricing – moving from a once-off fee to a continual subscription can be a difficult mindset change. Stable companies who are happy to use one set of core devices for many years may find that they are happy to continue making one-off purchases when required. Companies with growing or changing teams, a desire for flexible working, or an interest in keeping up with modern technology changes, would probably benefit from a subscription licensing model.