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Friday Tech Tips

Streamline Your Workflow Three Ways

By Andrea Cannavina

I need to start by getting a chip off my shoulder: I am not Mrs. Wiggins, nor am I some out-of-work secretary looking for crotchety old-school attorneys to bark into a recorder and wait for me to type their words.

Back in my bricks-and-mortar days, did I work for attorneys like that? Of course. Truth be told, the office managers I worked for put me with the messiest and the nastiest. They knew I liked a challenge.

Seriously, my goal in every assignment was to clean up and declutter the desks and offices of my attorneys. (Otherwise how the heck was I going to know what was going on?) More importantly, my office managers knew I preferred to do so in a way as to bring out the best in them. In other words, I killed them with kindness while showing them how to do what they did easier, faster, better (for them). Once I fixed one thing, the attorneys trusted me and things tended to get easier.

Fast-forward to today — and I’ve pretty much invested the second half of my career studying and working the web in the transition of business processes to digital. So while you can think of me as Mrs. Wiggins if you wish (who wouldn’t want to be a Carol Burnett character?), keep in mind that I have long considered how the work gets done, and specifically the people and technology processing the work produced by law firms.

With that said, below is the rundown on three tools that will streamline your workflow.

Office 365

Have you considered upgrading from the traditional Office suite to Microsoft Office 365? This one upgrade will have the programs you need to get work done across all devices — desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone. Moreover, it will have all your information synced across up to five devices for each license with all licenses tied to your firm’s domain — keeping all files and information of your firm under the terms of Microsoft’s business licensing.

All your software is kept up to date and synced across all your devices, but more importantly, you are technically in control of every device used and issued by the firm. So, you can cut off access to information, files and documents as needed or necessary.

When you upgrade to Office 365, I recommend that you work with a Microsoft MVP so you have a person between you and the vastness that is Microsoft. This is especially important if you are a firm of more than just one or are not IT inclined.

Dymo LabelWriter Twin Turbo

Anyone who has ever done a mailing will appreciate the addition of a Dymo Twin Turbo label printer. Anyone who ever had to make a special trip to the post office just to buy postage will definitely be glad they can get that one task off their to-do — forever. The Dymo Twin Turbo label printer allows you to easily do both.

No feeding (and jamming) of envelopes ever again. Just click on the address and tell it to print to the Dymo. Then open Dymo Stamps and tell it to print the postage. Stuff, stick and done.

Not only will you save a bunch of time by owning a Dymo, you’ll save money, too. Dymo users are offered a free Endicia account for purchasing postage (a $15 per month savings over stamps.com users).

Unified Messaging

Unified messaging can play an important part in streamlining an office’s workflow by centralizing the administration of calls and faxes. When you add unified messaging to a workflow, you get professional virtual reception with properly scripted messages, can administratively add or delete extensions to your main phone line and route who gets what calls, voicemails or faxes as needed.

So, use Office 365 to administer firm users’ email, and use unified messaging to control how those users are contacted outside of email.

The costs and actual technologies used and services received vary by provider (and there are a bunch). One specific issue to consider when selecting a provider for a legal workflow is whether the service auto emails items received or, more appropriately, can be set to send out a notification when something has been received versus openly emailing what could be attorney-client work product.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Andrea Cannavina Andrea Cannavina

Andrea Cannavina is a Master Virtual Assistant who helps attorneys, legal administrators and companies which service the legal industry better understand the role of technology and use of the web in the daily practice of law. Spending 15 years as CEO of LegalTypist, Andrea has actively helped hundreds of law firms run more organized and efficient practices. When not focused on trying to stop attorneys from spending far too much on a website or, worse, a “guru,” Andrea enjoys cooking and hanging with friends and family in the great outdoors (aka glamping).

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