What if your law firm could collaborate more efficiently and clean up your Outlook inboxes at the same time?
Rohit Parekh, a practicing lawyer and Vice President of Customer Success at Matter365, tackled this topic in a recent free webinar, “Collaboration in Microsoft 365- Tips and Tricks” with the American Bar Association.
One theme rang true throughout the webinar: get out of your inbox! To achieve true collaboration within your organization, Rohit says, you need to start shifting communications away from Outlook and into some of the more innovative apps that you’re already paying for with Microsoft 365.
That may sound daunting, but these tools are easy to use. Collaborate on documents in real time with OneDrive, assign tasks and manage matters with Planner and utilize all of the interactive chat and video conferencing features in Teams. These small steps can take your firm’s collaboration to the next level. Better collaboration means more efficient work and more capacity for new clients and cases.
Here are Rohit’s ten tips for collaborating in Microsoft365:
Tip 1: Sharing documents and folders with OneDrive
OneDrive should be your go-to tool for collaboration within Microsoft 365 – both with colleagues and clients outside your organization. Instead of emailing documents as attachments to emails in Outlook, you can use OneDrive as your hub for all the files you need.
With OneDrive, you can create folders and documents and easily give collaborators access simply by entering their email. Suddenly, you and a colleague can work together on a document in real-time. Additionally, you can manage permissions and allow different tiers of access to each folder or document – viewing, editing or downloading. And it’s all backed by Microsoft’s enterprise-grade security.
Tip 2: Auto versioning
Work with colleagues in the same document and see their changes in real-time. Go back to previous versions of your document to see your progress. OneDrive autosaves documents as you work on them, and saves all previous versions of the document. If needed, you can view the version history and see what the document looked like before a colleague made their edits. Changes will be marked with red lines, and next to each edit you’ll find the date and time of the change, and which user made that edit. All of those email attachments are replaced by one live, dynamic document on OneDrive.
Tip 3: Chat in files
Chat within a document with this quick-hit feature. Use Comments if you want a future user to see your input. You might find yourself in a scenario where you’re working in the same document as another colleague. For quick-hit conversation, utilize the chat feature within your documents. You and your collaborator can stay on the same page as you edit – literally and figuratively. If a third user joins, they’ll only be able to see the chat since they’ve joined, and the chat isn’t saved.
Tip 4: Matter management with Planner
Organize tasks and track deadlines with this Kanban-style matter board. Planner is one of the best matter management tools out there; it allows you to organize and assign tasks that are due on a certain matter, track deadlines and get a visual update on progress. That’s on top of being able to communicate within Planner itself.
Tip 5: Assigning tasks in Planner
Let your colleagues know what matters they need to work on – and chat and track progress within these matters. Filter by assignment, due date, priority and more. In the application, you can assign all members of your firm to whatever tasks apply to them, and everyone can see what their colleagues are working on. Filter tasks by assignment, due date, priority and more to understand which matters should come first.
The result is a dynamic task board that lets everyone in your organization know where they stand with their work. Nothing will fall through the cracks.
Tip 6: Organize through Microsoft Teams
Chat and video conference with ease – or turn your availability off to focus.
Teams can host audio or video calls for internal communications. It integrates your Outlook calendar, so you can join your Teams calls right from the app. If you’re in for a busy day, Teams allows you to toggle your availability on and off, and also manage notifications if you need to focus without being distracted by message notifications.
Tip 7: Chatting in Teams
Reduce email clutter with quick-hit chats. Utilize built-in file sharing capabilities.While Teams offers more than just instant messaging, this remains one of its most useful features. You’ll be amazed at how many routine, lengthy email chains can be eliminated with short, impactful conversations through Teams. Set up your Teams groups strategically, or pull together an ad-hoc group as needed.
Tip 8: Forming Teams for matter-specific collaboration
Form strategic, matter-specific teams within your organization or create new chats with clients. Link other Microsoft Apps – Outlook, Planner, OneNote – share contextual information directly. It can become difficult to focus with all of the matters your team has on it’s plate. By forming Teams, you can bring the right people together to get the job done, without distracting other colleagues that aren’t involved. Organize your teams by practice group, client or matter to create one line of communication. Link other Microsoft Apps – Outlook, Planner, OneNote and more – to share contextual information directly with your Team.
Tip 9: Internal video meetings with Teams
The closest thing to face-to-face interaction is a secure Teams video conference with Outlook scheduling integration. Teams’ secure, encrypted video conferencing offers live closed captioning and a recording feature if you need to come back to your meeting. You can easily invite a colleague to a Teams video or audio call right in the chat feature, or from Outlook for easy scheduling integration as well.
Tip 10: Get out of your inbox!
75% of your email communication could likely be more efficient if conducted elsewhere. Use Outlook when needed, but take advantage of all of the tools to help your team achieve true collaboration. Outlook is a fantastic tool to communicate via email and manage your schedule. However, true collaboration – especially within your firm – doesn’t occur with 200 emails a day. Most of the time, 75% of those communications could’ve occurred elsewhere – like in OneDrive, Planner or Teams.
If you’re inspired by Rohit’s keys to increasing collaboration within Microsoft365, consider trying Matter365, the only legal practice management solution that is fully integrated with Microsoft 365.
Matter365 is the easiest and most secure way to run your firm. It offers a matter-centric approach to law firm management, and all of your data stays in your possession when you sign up. Schedule a demo with Matter 365 today.