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Microsoft Office 365
Customer Solution Case Study
Small Law Firm Improves Client Service and
Saves $3,200 Annually with Hosted Services
Overview
Country or Region: Canada
Industry: Legal services
Customer Profile
Located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,
Mark Nikel is a small law firm that
provides civil litigation and dispute
resolution expertise related to personal
injury claims.
Business Situation
Established in 1998, Mark Nikel wanted
to improve remote access to email and
legal case information. It wanted to
reduce the time spent on IT issues such
as downtime and reduce its IT contractor
costs.
Solution
Mark Nikel deployed Microsoft Office
365 and uses Office Professional Plus
2010 as a front end to Exchange Online
for email and calendar and SharePoint
Online for legal case information.
Benefits
 Improved client service
 Reduced IT costs
 Increased profitability
"Office 365 has helped give me back the time I was
spending on IT. We’ve been able to increase the
volume of work without increasing staff.”
Mark Nikel, Attorney, Mark Nikel Professional Corporation
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Mark Nikel Professional
Corporation is a small law firm that specializes in personal injury
claims. As a small firm, it wanted to provide solutions that
supported its email and legal case management requirements
but did not need much administration. To provide capabilities
such as remote access to email, calendars, and case information,
it decided on Microsoft Office 365, a cloud-based service that
offers web-enabled business productivity, collaboration, and
communication tools. With this solution, the firm has helped its
legal professionals be more productive, provide better client
service, reduce IT costs, and increase profitability.
“The setup of Office 365
was very simple. From
the moment we received
the invitation, we simply
spent one hour getting
SharePoint Online and
Exchange Online set up.”
Mark Nikel, Attorney, Mark Nikel
Professional Corporation
Situation
Established in 1998, Mark Nikel
Professional Corporation represents injured
clients in personal injury legal cases in
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The firm is
comprised of Mark Nikel, its founder and
lead attorney, a paralegal, and several
attorneys who are engaged on a contract
basis.
To support clients, employees frequently
traveled to hospitals, clients’ homes, and
courtrooms to advise clients, gather
statements from witnesses, and argue
cases. Mark Nikel, Founder and Lead
Attorney at Mark Nikel Professional
Corporation, says, “The largest challenge
for us was remote access and sharing of
information. As a lawyer in a small law firm
like mine, being able to be out with clients
and being able to work away from the
office is survival.” The firm’s email and case
management solutions were not providing
the remote access capabilities that
employees needed to stay productive when
they were away from the office.
For messaging, the firm used a POP3 email
and calendar service that cost CDN$50
(U.S.$50) per month and presented several
challenges. Employees found it difficult to
synchronize email and calendar information
with mobile phones. The POP3 service also
had limited functionality for updating
calendars and tasks. Because the courts set
deadlines for when attorneys can file
lawsuits or make motions, calendars
changed frequently, and legal professionals
had to track updates manually.
Additionally, the amount of spam that
employees received each day was
unmanageable.
To store client and case information, the
law firm used Amicus Attorney Small Firm
Edition, a third-party legal case
management software solution. The
software was installed on the law firm’s
server and client information was backed
up to an external hard drive. Since legal
professionals must access legal case
information from remote locations like the
courthouse, the firm set up a virtual private
network (VPN) with a dedicated IP address,
but remote performance was slow and
unstable. Amicus Attorney worked great
when employees accessed it from the
office, but poor remote access was
affecting productivity and employees’
ability to provide information to clients in a
timely manner. The firm expected to spend
CDN$1,000 (U.S.$1,000) to upgrade to
Amicus Attorney Premium Edition and
Amicus Mobile for remote access to case
information. In addition to problems with
remote access, the firm was also concerned
about the security of data, stability of
backups, and downtime.
Nikel explains, “I was the IT person, so if
something did not work, I had to fix it or
pay an IT consultant.” If he was at the
courthouse or working from home and the
server went down, which happened three
or four times a year, he would have to go
into the office to restart it, taking time away
from important legal business.
Solution
The firm learned about Microsoft Office
365, which brings together trusted business
productivity, collaboration, and
communications products as cloud-based
services. It joined the Microsoft Rapid
Deployment Program (RDP) to pilot the
solution and address challenges with
remote access, security, downtime, and IT
administration. Office 365, the nextgeneration communications and
collaboration cloud-based services from
Microsoft, combines the familiar Office
desktop suite with cloud-based versions of
Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft
SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Lync
“This puts information at
my fingertips, allowing
me to make
recommendations to
clients immediately
rather than taking down
the situation and then
spending time later to
make a
recommendation.”
Mark Nikel, Attorney, Mark Nikel
Professional Corporation
Online. Nikel says, “The setup of Office 365
was very simple. From the moment we
received the invitation, we simply spent one
hour getting SharePoint Online and
Exchange Online set up. After that it was a
matter of migrating the data, which in our
case took three or four hours at the most.”
As current users of the latest Microsoft
Office suite, Microsoft Office Professional
Plus 2010, Nikel and his associates were
able to seamlessly connect to the
communication and collaboration services
of Office 365 to provide exceptional legal
advice. Nikel says, “The Office applications
like Outlook and Word work great with the
online services like Exchange Online and
SharePoint Online.” By using Office 2010
and Office 365, the firm began to fully
benefit from the combined capabilities of
the rich client desktop suite and the hosted
services of Office 365.
By replacing the POP3 service with
Exchange Online, employees can access
email, calendars, and contacts from almost
anywhere with a mobile phone or a
computer with a broadband connection.
Nikel says, “With each device—my tablet, a
Windows Phone 7, an Android phone, and
even my iPad at home—the
synchronization works.” Attorneys use tasks
and calendars in Microsoft Outlook 2010 to
manage schedules of cases and deadlines.
The firm also receives less spam and
believes the up-to-date antivirus and
antispam solutions make email more
secure.
With SharePoint Online, the legal
professionals can easily access files and
case information remotely without logging
onto VPN. The firm also decided to switch
from Amicus Attorney to Credenza, made
by Credenza Software, a Microsoft Gold
Certified Partner. Credenza is an Outlook
add-in that captures client and case
information and works with SharePoint
Online to provide a legal case management
solution that attorneys can access from
anywhere. The firm can synchronize
SharePoint libraries with Outlook 2010 so
attorneys can access case-related
documents even when working offline. The
firm also uses SharePoint Online to host its
external website because it’s simple and
easy to set up for a small business.
The firm uses the Microsoft OneNote 2010
note-taking program to capture
information into an electronic notebook
that attorneys can save in SharePoint
Online to share with paralegals. With
OneNote 2010, author indicators capture
who wrote what. Legal professionals
frequently research previous cases, and
they can copy relevant information into the
notebook with a web link to the case. In
Outlook 2010, Nikel can send an e-mail
message to a OneNote notebook for a
specific client. Nikel says, “With OneNote
and SharePoint Online, I was able to create
shared notebooks to capture research, links
to prior cases, maps of accident scenes,
medical records, photographs, and contact
information related to a case. I can access
this information from almost anywhere
from my mobile phone with Microsoft
OneNote Mobile or with Microsoft
OneNote Web App.”
Benefits
By moving to Office 365 hosted services,
Nikel has significantly reduced the time he
spends on IT issues, strengthened security
of data, stabilized backups, and reduced
downtime. Attorneys have better remote
access to case information. With these
advances, the firm has improved client
service, reduced IT costs, and increased
profitability.
“There was no way a
small law firm could
afford these advanced
capabilities like accessfrom-anywhere. But with
Office 365 it makes it
possible for a small firm
like mine to have these
same capabilities
without a large IT
investment.”
Mark Nikel, Attorney, Mark Nikel
Professional Corporation
Improved Client Service
The firm has improved the ability to access
emails, calendars, contacts, tasks, and legal
case information from remote locations
with Office 365. Attorneys frequently speak
with accident victims in hospitals, and now
they can access clients’ case information
from a mobile phone. Nikel says, “This puts
information at my fingertips, allowing me
to make recommendations to clients
immediately rather than taking down the
situation and then spending time later to
make a recommendation.” Attorneys often
only have one opportunity to question
witnesses, and with easy access to case
information, they can ask more pertinent
questions to help improve the testimony
for clients’ cases.
Nikel himself has redirected time from IT
issues to serving clients. “With Office 365,
my [IT] role is almost nonexistent. Once it’s
set up, it’s working. I need not worry about
it and the time is mine to devote to the law
practice.” Also with reduced spam and
reduced downtime, Nikel can devote more
time to client activities.
Reduced IT Costs
With Office 365, Nikel estimated he has
reduced IT costs by CDN$3,200 (U.S.$3,200)
annually. He expects yearly savings in the
following areas:

Saved CDN$1,000 (U.S.$1,000) in IT
consulting costs by switching to a
Microsoft-hosted environment

Avoided CDN$1,000 (U.S.$1,000) in
annual software subscription costs for
an upgrade to Amicus Attorney
Premium Edition and Mobile Edition

Saved CDN$600 (U.S.$600) in fees to
an IT service provider for POP3 email
service and external website hosting,
because of functionality built into
Exchange Online and SharePoint
Online.

Saved CDN$600 (U.S.$600) in costs for
a dedicated IP address because
security is built into the Office 365
solution
Nikel says, “On a per-lawyer basis, my IT
costs will be a fraction of what any of the
other law firms’ IT costs are. We pay less
than $100 per month per lawyer compared
to thousands of dollars per lawyer at a
large firm.”
Improved Profitability
Nikel expects a significant increase in
profitability, supported by the Office 365
deployment. By improving client service,
Nikel expects an increase in client referrals
and revenue. He has reduced his firm’s IT
costs by reducing contractor, software, and
other related IT costs. Nikel has also
improved efficiency when working
remotely. “Office 365 has helped give me
back the time I was spending on IT. We’ve
been able to increase the volume of work
without increasing staff.”
Nikel says, “I used to be a partner at a large
firm, where we had IT staff and large
budgets. There was no way a small law firm
could afford these advanced capabilities
like access-from-anywhere. But with Office
365 it makes it possible for a small firm like
mine to have these same capabilities
without a large IT investment.”
For More Information
Microsoft Office 365
For more information about Microsoft
products and services, call the Microsoft
Sales Information Center at (800) 4269400. In Canada, call the Microsoft
Canada Information Centre at (877) 5682495. Customers in the United States and
Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing
can reach Microsoft text telephone
(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234.
Outside the 50 United States and
Canada, please contact your local
Microsoft subsidiary. To access
information using the World Wide Web,
go to:
www.microsoft.com
Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud
versions of our most trusted
communications and collaboration
products—Microsoft SharePoint Online,
Exchange Online, and Lync Online—with
the latest version of our Office desktop
suite and companion web applications for
businesses of all sizes.
For more information about Mark Nikel
Professional Corporation services, call
780-423-2656 or visit the website at:
www.marknikel.com
Office 365 helps save time and money, and
it frees up valued resources. Simple to use
and easy to administer, it is financially
backed by a service level agreement
guaranteeing 99 percent reliability. Office
365 features robust security, IT-level phone
support, geo-redundancy, disaster
recovery, and the business-class privacy
controls and standards that you expect
from a world-class service provider.
For more information about Microsoft
Office 365, go to:
www.office365.com
Software and Services

This case study is for informational purposes only.
MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR
IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Document published June 2011
Microsoft Office 365
− Microsoft Exchange Online
− Microsoft SharePoint Online
− Microsoft Office Professional Plus

Microsoft Office 2010
− Microsoft OneNote 2010
− Microsoft Outlook 2010
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