Posted on January 10, 2021 by Keith Vallely
The rush to Microsoft 365 started with reducing costs by getting rid of the local Exchange Server. Then IT realized they could get a much better handle on every machine in the enterprise, and control the mobile apps, security, and their data by using Intune. This led to lawyers and knowledge workers discovering new, useful capabilities within Microsoft 365 that aided in their productivity and required little to no training on its use or deployment. Microsoft Teams is the most popular of the Microsoft Apps that end-users are using without being prompted or pushed into. Other popular Microsoft Apps that are being adopted on a large scale by end-user driven adoption are the Planner (soon to be renamed “Tasks”) and Todo apps. With Todo, users can flag an email in Outlook, and it will become a task item in Todo, which can be renamed and assigned to others. Cross-platform, native integration is happening within the entire Microsoft spectrum of Apps. The rush to Microsoft 365 is real, and the number of firms adopting these solutions is unprecedented.
And yet, the rush is only just getting started. The next obvious step is integrating Teams usage with true Legal Document Management solutions built right into the law firm’s Microsoft 365 Tenant. Why? Firm’s IT are now seeing documents being stored in Teams (SharePoint), or the lawyers “Personal” [for Business] OneDrive’s (ostensibly SharePoint), or worse, back on the desktop since users are spending most of their time in Teams. Emails are still stored in Exchange, but now legal professionals want their emails, their chats, and their documents, each accessed in different Microsoft Applications, integrated into one dashboard-like experience.
Companies like Epona have risen to meet that demand and fill in the gaps between a native Microsoft environment, and one designed to work as a Document Management System. Epona has developed full on Legal DMS solutions (as well as Enterprise DMS Solutions) that integrate natively with Teams and are built on SharePoint, giving firms a way to take even more advantage of their investments in Microsoft 365.
As of today, firms can use their tenant to deploy a Legal DMS that includes Records Management, Litigation Hold, Workflows, Intranets and Extranets, AI/Machine Learning for Automatic Document Metadata profiling, predictive email filing, automatic OCRing of PDFs, and have the entire DMS for a fraction of the cost of the old legacy systems, all under the same roof of Microsoft 365. In the 4th Quarter of 2020, large and midsized firms can utilize Microsoft 365 SharePoint Syntex to have the system “read” their documents, find the correct words in the document, and using the learned machine process to automagically apply metadata properties to the documents with no profiling required by a user. Corporate Legal departments can utilize Microsoft Power Automate (Workflow) to create contract execution processes, as well as Microsoft 365 Business Information to deploy fully capable, flexible, and custom Contract Management systems.
The next step begins by storing all your documents in your Microsoft 365 tenant, and then creating dashboards, or AI/Machine Learning/Business Information models to make your firm or business even more productive. Microsoft has leveled the playing field and simplified the process for deploying World Class, Enterprise Grade IT Solutions. It has done this while also lowering the costs for law firms and businesses, both large and small. We are merely at the beginning of this next wave of capabilities, and they are being deployed by firms of all sizes as well as by Fortune 500 companies. The only question that remains is will your firm be the last to adopt the future, or amongst the leaders?
Keith Vallely has been with Epona since 2011, when he joined as director of sales. Established in 1993, Epona is a leading software consulting and productions company operating out of Rotterdam, Düsseldorf and New York.