Why have organisations switched to a Microsoft 365 based document management system?

Due to the adoption of the cloud, the need for client portals, online meetings, and a modern way of collaborating on documents, traditional document management systems such as iManage Work are increasingly under pressure.

Over 20 years ago, e-mail emerged as a means of communication, law firms invested in a Document and E-mail Management System (DMS). This was an excellent outcome for internal filing. Everything was stored electronically, easily searchable and sharing documents within the organisation was quick and easy.

Systems that offered good Outlook integration, such as iManage Work, were particularly popular with end users. The DMS system was initially housed within the organisation. Later, offices decided to switch to their own data centres, often used in combination with desktop virtualisation solutions such as Citrix or Terminal Server. Security and having “your own data storage” were the main reasons for choosing such an architecture.

Technological developments are going fast, but the way we work together is also changing rapidly. Where previously documents were shared via e-mail, there is now a need for more instant messaging, collaboration environments, co-authoring etc. The increase in the use of Microsoft Teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of this.

Many firms have experienced that their DMS does not provide enough functionality and have purchased additional products for document sharing, tasks, deal management and informing their clients. Every respectable office now has a digital customer portal, offers access to files, and can facilitate a transaction via a deal room or project management environment. From a functional point of view, this is of course to be welcomed, but technically there are multiple sources in which data is stored, users are more often given multiple accounts and monitoring security is becoming increasingly difficult.

Due to changes in both technology and communication methods, it is necessary for offices to switch to a new IT architecture. However, due to a lack of knowledge, fear of change and endangering their own position within the organisation, we see that IT managers do not enter discussions with office directors and partners.

The main reasons why organisations have switched to a Microsoft 365 based Document Management System:

1. Cost savings
The costs of a DMS can be drastically reduced. Own hardware, management of hardware and software, annual updates / upgrades etc. will be cancelled. Desktop virtualisation in unnecessary and limits functionality.

2. Availability and security
Application Servers that are in-house based on remote desktop access appear to be much less secure, fast, and stable than expected. We also see that smaller niche IT service providers with their own data centres have lost their right to exist.

3. Mobile/remote working
Microsoft 365 was created with mobile working in mind. The platform is seamlessly integrated within the Office suite, has a fully web-based user interface and a range of apps for mobile phone and tablet.

4. Less IT staff and in-house knowledge
IT talent is scarce. IT departments at many law firms struggle to attract and retain good IT people. Knowledge of classic DMS systems is limited and external specialists are required to maintain the application. The Microsoft 365 and Azure Cloud environment has many online resources for self-education.

5. Replacing outdated legacy applications
Separate software for deal rooms, client portals, collaboration environments (eg HighQ), knowledge documents and templates can be replaced by the functionality offered by the Microsoft 365 platform. Secure and intuitive collaboration with external parties, that’s what Microsoft 365 is all about.

6. Innovative Microsoft platform
Why reinvent the wheel, when you can take advantage of Microsoft’s gigantic innovation budgets? Offices continue to look for “LegalTech” instead of investing time in the search, they should experiment with functionality such as artificial intelligence applications within the Microsoft platform.

7. Low learning curve
Almost everyone has used an application from the Microsoft Office suite, such as Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc. Because the interface does not change, only a few buttons are added to the taskbar, the learning curve for new users is minimal.

Not sure where to start? On our special Switch page, you will find more information and tools to get the most out of your Document Management System. Check out the Custodian for Legal product page for more information.

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