The spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing how many of us work. Whether you need to practice new social distancing rules in the workplace or you are a new remote worker, your day-to-day operations are sure to be different than before the virus.
Thankfully, technology has progressed to a point where most of us have access to fast, reliable internet service. This allows us all to take advantage of many cloud-based technologies and tools that can keep us just as productive at home, as you were in the office.
Working in the Cloud
There are many essential tools available on the cloud that can be useful…maybe too many. Ask anyone “how do you?” and you’ll get a variety of answers. There are pros and cons to each of these. What do they cost? Are they personal or can they be shared with you co-workers or clients? Are they free personal accounts or paid corporate accounts? Are they secure? Are they backed up?
Here are a few examples if you don’t have access to your office network:
- Document Storage – Where do you store your files?
- Contact Management – Where are your prospect and client contacts stored?
- Email Communications – Where are your email communications stored?
- Notes – When you take notes, where do you store them?
- Calendars – Where do you schedule your appointments and meetings?
These are just some of the most common cloud-based options you may already be using or might consider looking into. The big questions are: How do you decide which cloud-based solution(s) to choose? Do you have an IT department that arranges for the best solution(s), or does each individual or team in your office go with “What they know?”
An alternative to selecting individual products or services is to find an integrated cloud-based solution. One platform that provides multiple features and more! The nice thing about these solutions is that your firm can select one and everyone will have a centralized system with consistent tools and accessibility. There is usually a charge for these solutions, but in the long run they pay for themselves through efficiency gains.
Typically, these solutions offer:
Encrypted security – When you upload or store data on the cloud, the integrated solution provides encryption to protect your data. Most provide intrusion detection, as well.
Data backup– The company providing the integrated solution performs routine backups. This could mean weekly, daily, or even hourly backups that can be restored on demand.
Seamless integration – One place to go to see all documents, contacts, emails, notes, and calendar appointments. Some offer time recording, billing, accounting, and workflow tracking.
Actionstep (the platform CounselPro™8 is built on) is an example of an integrated platform. It’s a one stop shop for:
- Storing documents
- Managing contacts
- Storing and sharing emails
- Taking and sharing notes
- Scheduling meetings on shared calendars
- Generating letters
- Creating legal documents
- Generating invoices
- Streamlining your workflow
- And More!
Another great feature of online cloud-based solutions is that they are typically ready to integrate with other software or systems. As an example, Actionstep integrates with: QuickBooks, LawPay, and Microsoft Office, and they are working on even more.
Keep in mind that whatever solution(s) you identify for your firm, there usually isn’t one magic bullet for everything. Start by identifying your needs first, then find a solution that meets those needs. This will help you stay focused on what’s a need to have vs. a nice to have.
Senior Technical Solutions, Training, and Product Manager
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128