Business Review

In order to identify how M365 can be best used in a firm, we need to look at the way the firm works. This will be focused more on day to day operations rather than any aspects of legal workflow, though there are opportunities to enhance both. The firm may already be using M365 or considering doing so.

Specifically, we’re looking for opportunities to automate business process, strengthen security and introduce tools to enhance collaboration. Over 2-3 days we would speak with individuals across the firm to understand how they go about their work on a daily basis.

Some of the key areas we would pay attention to are:

  • How is the firm sharing information and knowledge? This would look at all aspects of information sharing from firm-wide announcements to knowledge bases. We would also look at how forms had assembled their precedent banks and how accessible these were.
  • A deep dive look at business process. For example, is the firm still using paper forms or Word documents to fill in forms for things like expenses and travel requests? We would also examine any approval processes in place and how approvals are provided. A significant part of this work is to assess whether timescales for processing standard requests take longer due to bottlenecks in the process.
  • An assessment of areas where M365 could be used to deliver solutions at a lower cost in place of other third-party applications. For example, using PowerApps firms have the capability to implement their own expenses application or hot desk booking system.
  • An assessment of security risks that could be mitigated by implementing M365 security features to minimise those risks. For example, this may include an analysis of how security auditing is used, email encryption methods, opportunities to use multi-factor authentication and the use of other data protection and compliance features.

At the end of this review, we will produce a report showing in detail, how Microsoft 365 technologies can be used to further enhance the way the firm uses M365 or how it will provide value if the firm is looking at implementing it. The licensing options around M365 can be quite confusing so recommendations on the best approach to licencing will also be offered.

Implementation

The report produced will have detailed action points and a proposed project plan that demonstrates in which order M365 functionality should be implemented. Generally speaking, firms that don’t already use M365 will be advised to migrate their email into M365 as a starting point. As other functionality may depend on access to email accounts to function properly (such as PowerAutomate)

The implementation of these recommendations may involve a number of parties. For example, we would always recommend that the firm’s managed service provider takes responsibility for the migration of email from the existing email platform into M365. Depending on the complexity involved around other areas the firm may decide to train their own staff to develop the appropriate functionality or use a third-party developer. BDC will provide recommendations on the best approach depending on the situation.

Regardless of the approach taken, we will assist the firm in project managing the implementation of M365 functionality. Firms should see this as a change management project that should be treat accordingly. We are able to assist firms with the change management process and adopt some key change principles:

  • Form a guiding coalition: Put a steering group in place that have responsibility for overseeing and championing the use of M365 in the firm;
  • Create a vision: Create an inspirational vision that will help colleagues understand how the project will help them work for the better;
  • Collaborate: Involve others across the firm in the project to create a shared sense of ownership;
  • Create a sense of urgency: Make clear how the business will suffer if it does not start to implement the M365 technology.

It is also important to put some measurements in place. For example, if the firms wants to decrease the amount of time it takes to approve travel requests then a measure using the current “as is” process should be taken and compared against the time taken by the new process once it has bedded in.

Optimisation

Once the firm has implemented its project it is useful to revisit around 8 weeks after to ensure it is realising the looked-for benefits. At this point, we would come back into the business and speak to staff to discuss their experiences and make recommendations. We are keen to ensure firms realise their investment and also find further opportunities from an ever-evolving product.

Microsoft regularly release new features for M365, and we will work with firms to identify updates that may be particularly useful for them.

 

Microsoft 365 Implementation Tips

Migration to M365 has an array of significant benefits for firms. However, if it isn’t managed properly, it can cause disruption. Here are some of our top ‘lessons learned’ tips on dealing with key aspects of an M365 implementation:

 

  • Only buy the licences you need for the stage you’re at. For example, if you’re only implementing M365 email and have no need for other
  • M365 features and desktop versions of Microsoft Office you can buy the Exchange Online for email licences only.
  • Another tip around email licensing is to closely examine the types of mailboxes you have before purchasing licensing. It’s highly likely that you’ll have a number of mailboxes that are no longer in use for various reasons. It’s important to identify these and determine whether they should be archived or re-provisioned in the new environment.
  • If your firm operates any kind of calendar sharing this will need to be re-implemented in the new M365 environment.
  • Some firms use OneDrive file sharing. Ensure you have implemented policies around the use of OneDrive to ensure that links are shared securely and that links to files and documents are not left actively any longer than needed.
  • Set up compliance policies that scan emails and flag when account numbers or credit card numbers are being shared.
  • Set up alerts so that administrators or compliance personnel are alerted when documents are shared externally to the business.
  • Do run regular training for all staff on M365 applications. As the products are always changing it is important that staff understand how to use new features and ensure they are getting maximum value from the old ones.

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Written by...

Nigel Stott