If you’re not currently using Microsoft Office 365’s SharePoint for document management, you should be.
In addition to being highly versatile, allowing built-in versioning, global document searching, a global recycle bin, and access to your files anywhere you can get an internet connection (and even offline), with a few add-in tools, you can maximize SharePoint to help drop your workload significantly.
There are two tools that are indispensable when transitioning to SharePoint and ongoing productivity. Harmon.ie and Zee Drive. Both have a lost cost monthly subscription, but will save you money in both utility and headaches later on.
If you’re like me, you live out of your email inbox. You may have hundreds of subfolders, divided by client, vendor, interoffice memos, and other categories. Maybe you just have an Inbox with 35,000 emails in it, so you can “search for it later on.” While the former is a better way to manage your Inbox, it still has some serious downside. Attachments are received, but never filed with the case data; important emails have to be saved manually and dragged into SharePoint; attaching documents and files can be cumbersome and difficult to manage; and your mailbox gets large and bloated and slows everything down.
The solution is the very cool, Harmon.ie SharePoint integration tools. They work with Outlook for both the PC and the Mac. The PC version features a toolbox that resides in Outlook with a list of your SharePoint document libraries, files, and folders. You can easily drag file attachments directly from Outlook into the proper folder. You can attach documents from a single screen. Harmon.ie has lots of other really cool features (you can read about them here: https://harmon.ie/features), but one of the best is the ability to save the email itself as well as the attachment to SharePoint. So instead of having to search your Inbox, then your subfolders, then your document library, now you have a single location for everything relevant to your case. Harmon.ie has a free version that can be used in offices with up to 15 users, and a paid version that turns on the raw email saving functionality starting at $6 per user per month.
By far one of the most useful tools when migrating to Office 365 is Zee Drive. In a nutshell, it’s software that allows SharePoint to mimic your old file server mapped drives. For example, you may have had an X: drive for all your client data, and a Z: drive for your account data. Now that you’ve moved them to SharePoint, dragging and dropping files has become much more difficult and drive mapping requires constantly logging back into SharePoint. Occasionally, the mappings to SharePoint get dropped requiring you to have to add them back, which is time consuming, awkward, and is not intuitive. In most cases is also requires users (or the IT guy) to setup each computer individually. Oh, and did I mention that it is ridiculously slow? It is.
The answer is Zee Drive. It allows an administrator to setup SharePoint mappings globally or by groups. Once a user installs Zee Drive on their computer, it will automatically pull all the drive mappings that user has permission to. Zee Drive uses client side caching to speed everything up as well. When I tested it out on my computer, navigation to a subfolder 6 levels deep took almost 30 seconds without Zee Drive, but less than 5 seconds with it. Zee Drive also allows users to feel comfortable in their environment, because how they work and where they save looks exactly the same and works just as quickly. One of the most difficult obstacles in moving from a local file server to Cloud based SharePoint was the adjustment that had to be made in an office when saving and access files, and the time and expense of training your users how to use an entirely new system. Zee Drive solves both of those problems flawlessly. Oh, and one of the best features of Zee Drive? You can install it on your home computer so it can mimic your office setup. Zee Drive starts at $5.45 per user per month. You can check all the cool features here (http://www.thinkscape.com/Map-Network-Drives-To-Office-365-OneDrive/).
If you’re a law office, you should be using SharePoint for your document management. There are two tools you should also be using. Harmon.ie integrates with Outlook and allows you to easily save emails and attachments directly into SharePoint. Zee Drive allows you to setup drive mappings that are super-fast and allows you to continue to work in SharePoint, just like you did on your old file server system.
XOGENT is an IT firm based in Atlanta specializing in IT for attorneys and law firms. We work both as a supplement for in-house IT departments and provide completely outsourced IT services. We do not sell either of the above tools, but do support both. We hope you find the information useful.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lawton Brown is a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology and Atlanta's John Marshall Law School. He is licensed to practice law in TX and GA. Lawton is the current president of XOGENT and has been in the software development and IT service industry for over 24 years.