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Shifting Your Phone System to the Cloud

By Jon Yelton

I don’t know about you, but I like to spend as much money as possible on my firm’s phone system while making sure it is as inflexible as Bakelite in winter—and nearly featureless. Wait. I may have reversed that. What I really like is to pay as little as possible for a feature-rich system—and one that reflects my actual daily working practices (read: on the go) instead of requiring the working practices of a decade ago (read: sitting at desk).

Today, law firms are looking at hosted, cloud-based solutions for just about everything. What you may not know, however, is that phone systems are moving to the cloud, too. There are several cloud-based PBX system options that provide some amazing features you won’t find in a traditional system—and, yes, they do so at a lower cost. I hear good things about Fonality and 8×8. Generally speaking, however, the advantages you will find in any one of these choices include, but are not limited to:

  • Voice mail to email notification. Get your voice mail on your smartphone.
  • Find me anywhere features. Route phone calls to your office, then your cell phone, then your home phone and finally back to your assistant. Whatever routing features you want to enable, you can.  Never miss an important phone call whether on the road, or in your office.
  • Link your phone calls to your time, billing and case management system. Do you need to bill for your time or journalize your phone call? Most case management systems can seamlessly interact with your phone to automatically track your call time, automatically bill for it, and journalize the phone call with notes made to your case management system.
  • Automatic transcription service. Probably the newest and most exciting feature that cloud-based PBX systems offer is automatic transcription service. Using voice-to-text recognition software, this service automatically sends a transcript of every client call directly to your email—usually within seconds of when your call ends. Imagine having a transcript of every conversation with your clients. Tie this in with case management software and you have a record of every email, document and phone call, in chronological order, for all your clients.
  • Supports telecommuting employees and branch offices seamlessly. Clients will never know when you are working from home or on the road—it’s all the same to them, as far as they know.

But wait, there’s more. Cloud-based phone systems are often accompanied by cost savings galore. Here’s why:

  • No key upfront money required. Replace large investment with monthly payments for only the services you need.
  • No labor needed. Your cloud-based phone system subscription comes professionally managed so no more costly support calls to your local phone vendor.

Of course, you can still spend as much money as possible on traditional PBX if you really want to. But as C.H. Spurgeon said, “Economy is half the battle of life; it is not so hard to earn money as to spend it well.”

John Yelton is head of consulting services for Orion Law Management Systems, Inc., a time, billing, accounting and practice management software company in Atlanta. Specializing in law firms, Jon has assisted many of the nation’s top firms in information technology, workflow management and efficiencies, and management reporting.

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