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Strengthening our multi-state competitive advantage with Office 365

23

Jan, 15

Strengthening our multi-state competitive advantage with Office 365

Today’s post about Office 365 was written by Steven White, chief information officer for Brock & Scott

Brock-and-Scott-1
When I joined Brock & Scott a year ago, the firm had come through a sustained growth phase, expanding from its two founders in 1998 to more than 935 employees in 17 locations across seven states in the southeastern United States. We developed a reputation for our work for some of the United States’ largest banks. There are few firms that have our multistate footprint and the ability to serve our clients across a large geographic region is one of our competitive advantages.

However, to improve that competitive advantage, we needed to maintain the same high level of expertise and service across all our offices. So one of my early priorities as CIO was to help Brock & Scott implement a common set of business productivity tools that would foster a culture change toward sharing best practices and introducing more efficient, standardized business processes. We are using Microsoft Office 365 to help support and enable this culture change. I’m really excited about the opportunities here: attorneys and their support staff are using Office 365 tools to improve and standardize how we manage our internal documents. As a result, we’re enhancing client service and access to information across the board.

Now we are seeing new collaborative scenarios where colleagues are helping each other improve client service, which is driving new business for the firm. Teams from one state can use video conferencing with their counterparts in another state, sharing screens and documents to illustrate best practices and teach each other how to work more efficiently. This is a big selling point for our clients, who are always looking for faster legal action to help them recover their assets. Now that we are using Office 365 to share best practices around expediting asset recovery for our clients, we are raising the overall level of our services and building our reputation.

We are also working more efficiently outside the office. Our title search employees are equally productive anywhere, because with Office 365 ProPlus we can deliver Office applications to their PCs in their offices and to their mobile devices for working at the court house.

Working with Eastridge Technology, we replaced our previous intranet and document management system and built collaborative online team sites for each practice area and our major clients. We migrated noncase documents as well as all client communications to these sites. The solution is flexible and manageable—we assigned appropriate access to each site for partners and support staff and then tagged the documents and communications for easy search. Using workflows on the client communication sites, attorneys are acknowledging that they received and acted upon the constant stream of alerts and change notices they get from clients. Now, it’s easier for Brock & Scott to prove that we have changed our processes in accordance with our clients’ directives. This reduces risk and improves our service across all offices.

Office 365 meets our requirements for data security: we know that Microsoft can make security investments that are far more substantial than what we can. Office 365 also meets or exceeds our requirements for compliance. We are using the administrative controls to implement our own policies around data loss prevention, eDiscovery, and legal hold. We’ll be implementing automated data retention policies to standardize the firm’s organizational compliance and reduce risk and liability. And with our high percentage of paralegal staff, Office 365 fit our need for familiar, easy-to-use tools. It’s this ease of use that’s contributing to the many “champions” in the firm that are extending Office 365 into the business, with no training from IT. Adoption has been fast and enthusiastic, and we are already seeing savings in reduced hardware, storage, travel, and labor costs.

But the legacy of the transition to cloud-based services goes beyond reducing infrastructure to creating a blueprint for growing the business. We are using the same cloud-based tools to efficiently expand into other states. When we do add a new office, we know that it will be running on the best practices that we’re establishing and sharing using Office 365. It’s a great way to extend our market reach while staying true to our core competencies.

For more detail, don’t miss the Brock & Scott case study and infographic.

—Steven White

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