May 12 2011

Tikit and UKDEG Word Excellence Day

Jason

This coming Monday Tikit and UKDEG (UK Document Excellence Group) are holding another Word Excellence Day in London.

The event is covering how the legal industry and firms are planning the move to Office 2010 and Windows 7 and what challenges and issues could arise in that migration journey. There are speakers and panel members from firms such as Allen & Overy, Ashurst, DLA Piper, Lewis Silkin, Linklaters, SNR Denton and Veale Wasbrough Vizards and Neil Cameron, CEO of Neil Cameron Consulting Group, will be chair for the day.

I will be speaking in the morning on our plans for Office 2010 and Windows 7 and then joining a panel of other firms who are running Office 2010 projects to discuss our planning experience with questions on the issues of configuration and customisation of Word.

If you will be attending then I hope to speak to some of you then. For those that can’t attend, Tikit have been publicising a twitter hashtag for the event (#WEDMay11) so hopefully there will be plenty of people on this stream in virtual attendence also.

Share

Feb 24 2011

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office

Jason

Here’s one to strike fear into every risk manager in law firms and perhaps give a warm glow to every lawyer (well the tech savvy ones at least), Google Cloud Connect!

In Google’s words.

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office brings collaborative multi-person editing to the familiar Microsoft® Office experience. You can share, backup, and simultaneously edit Microsoft Word, PowerPoint®, and Excel® documents with coworkers.

or how about “with coworkers clients”!!!

It’s only been released today, so I’ve not had chance to play about with it too much but from what I have used so far it was fairly easy to set up and very easy to sync to the cloud. Maybe a simple way to finally rid ourselves of the back and forth drafting process via email attachments!

There is more information on how it works in the video below.

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office (2003/2007/2010)
Share

Nov 1 2010

Outlook 2010 – a legal viewpoint – the final say

Jason

This is a short post, but it’s something I missed off the previous Outlook 2010 post. It’s to note a feature of Outlook 2010 that I forgot to include, but that I think will be very useful to lawyers (as well as Legal IT staff, Knowledge Management staff etc etc).

RSS feeds into the Inbox!

There used to be a great add-in to Outlook (Newsgator Inbox) from a company called Newsgator. This brought RSS feeds into Outlook, allowing you to read your RSS feeds in an Outlook style interface. I used this for some years until I switched to their stand alone FeedDemon product when they acquired that. Newsgator switched focus a while ago to SharePoint, but for those that were aware of Newsgator Inbox then the Outlook 2010 functionality is very similar.

Basically you have an RSS Feeds folder in Outlook and in here you can add feeds. This allows a very familiar interface from which lawyers can use RSS feeds (without the need for further training of yet another product).

No Option RSS feed in Outlook 2010

As they are in your Outlook profile they follow you around from machine to machine in your organisation (similar to the synchronise function that was available in Newsgator Inbox). See below for the posts available in Outlook Web Access under Exchange 2003.

For those of you that use Google Reader, unfortunately there is no way to synchronise with your Google Reader feeds as yet. But you can import OPML files into Outlook 2010 (OPML = Outline Processor Markup Language – an open standard format which can be used to import/export feed entries from one service to another). Take a look at this article if you want to know how. This could also be an easy way to populate a set of feeds that would be useful to a specific set of lawyers.

Vote for Jason Plant - IT Blog Awards 2010

Share

Oct 28 2010

Outlook 2010 – a legal viewpoint – part 3

Jason

It’s been a couple of months since I last blogged about my thoughts on Outlook 2010. You can read my previous two posts here and here (and on the Legal IT Professionals site, here and here) or you can just use the Office 2010 Series category to the right.

This post is a look at the presence, contacts and social connector features in Outlook 2010.

First let’s look at the contact cards. In the contacts folder there isn’t anything revolutionary, it’s pretty much the same as previous versions. But it’s the exposure of this contact information in other parts of Outlook that is a nice addition in 2010.  Just hover over a contact anywhere in Outlook (on an appointment, an email address etc) and you get the following pop-up displayed:

outlook-contacts

From here you can do a number of things. You can of course use the arrow in the bottom right to get more details of the contact. This can be information from your contacts folder or information held about people in your organisation address books.

But in addition from this pop-up you can start integrating into other parts of Outlook. So click on the email icon to send an email to the person or the icon to schedule a meeting (where it will show their availability where the contact is in your organisation).

Also from here you start to see the integration into other Microsoft products. So if you have Office Communicator in your organisation, you can see the presence of the contact (i.e. whether they are online, in a meeting, away, busy etc), you can start an IM (instant messaging) conversation or initiate a phone call with the person. Just like the rest of Office 2010 it’s all about having the right functionality available in the right place!

Another nice addition is the “Suggested Contacts” folder. This looks at the emails you send and builds up a collection of contacts for you. Initially you think “in most cases won’t that just be the email address and maybe a name?” Not necessarily!

Let’s look at how Outlook 2010 expands the contact card within the new People Pane and also allows you to expand it further with “social connectors”.

outlook-peoplepane

This area, below the email reading pane, works in a similar way to Xobni for those that have used that application. You can see an example above. In the top right of the people pane are all the contacts from the email (To:, CC: etc), click on a contact and you see details of other emails from that person, appointments you have with the person or attachments you have received from the person.

If you’ve got one of the Outlook Social Connectors installed then you can also see social media status updates, RSS feeds etc from the person. In the above image you can see I have the Linkedin social connector installed, this would be an excellent addition to Outlook 2010 for lawyers. As clients or prospective clients email you (or are cc’d in emails to you) you can immediately see information from their linkedin profile!

There are also social connectors for facebook, windows live messenger and myspace available from Microsoft at the moment.

But in addition there is a Social Connector Software Development Kit available from Microsoft, so there is the opportunity for law firms to develop their own social connectors. The obvious one is to pull richer information on internal contacts from intranets or people databases the firm may have.

Looking to the world of third party legal IT vendors, this has to be a great area for CRM in law firms. LexisNexis surely have to develop a connector for InterAction! It would be a perfect addition, allowing lawyers to instantly see up to date information on clients.

Also for Knowledge Management, a connector into the DMS (document management system) or Knowledge Management Systems to see documents or content authored by a particular contact within the organisation.

With all the added functionality and the flexibility in Outlook 2010 the difficult job for those Project Managers having to run the Office 2010 projects is where to draw that line under your project scope!

computerweeklybanner

Vote for Jason Plant - IT Blog Awards 2010

Share

Aug 5 2010

Outlook 2010 – a legal viewpoint – part 2

Jason

In this second post on Outlook 2010 I’ll be taking a look at the calendar functionality. There are some really nice features that I’m sure will please a lot of lawyers (and if not the lawyers then certainly their secretaries!). There are plenty of screen shots which you can zoom into by simply clicking on the image.

So first up is a look at calendar views and there are a few nice touches to point out here.

There is a combined calendar and task view. So as well as seeing the Monday to Friday view of appointments you get to see the days tasks listed as well.

outlook-cal-cal-view
Calendar combined with Tasks

Then there is the overlay view where you can overlay a number of calendars on top of each other to see combined appointments.

Another nice touch is the option on the main ribbon that allows you to create “calendar groups”. Basically a way of grouping shared calendars together into logical groups and thus ease viewing other people’s calendars. For example, this would allow in one click to quickly view project members calendars for scheduling a project meeting.

Outlook 2010 really seems to be about helping you with what you want to do rather than adding loads of new features. So there is a schedule view, which is just another way of viewing multiple calendars. But this way round it’s much easier to see free time.

outlook-cal-schedule

Schedule View

And again in this view there another little short cut, where if you haven’t got access to view someone’s calendar there is a quick way to request permission by simply clicking on the little icon below the persons name in the left column.

outlook-cal-cal-perms1

Request calendar permissions

outlook-cal-cal-perms2

And what the recipient gets

Once a calendar appointment has been created and the meeting request sent out, then as a recipient of the request Outlook 2010 makes it easier for you too.

First off you see your calendar for the day of the meeting request. This is one of the features I like best as you can immediately see your calendar for the day in question, as well as meeting conflicts etc, thus allowing you to make the decision on whether to attend the meeting quickly.

outlook-cal-mtg-req

Appointment request

Then once you’ve decided whether to accept or not, you can do so simply by one action on the ribbon.

outlook-cal-mtg-req-respons

Quick response possible

In fact you don’t need to be in the calendar view to initiate meetings. You can very quickly set up a meeting from an email. So say you get some information from a colleague on a deal from the client, you can with just one click set up a meeting with them and the team to discuss. Simply by clicking on the “Reply with Meeting” option on the ribbon.

outlook-quick-step-mtg

Quickly create a meeting request

In fact you can set up “Quick Steps” to do a number of things. Say you want a one click button the create an email to the Team. Just set up a “Quick Step”, chose your action, your To: list and it’s there as a one click option on your ribbon!

outlook-quick-step

Set up a "Quick Step"

Finally there should be an option when creating a meeting request called “Meeting suggestions”. I’ve not got this to work in my installation, so I’m presuming you need Exchange 2007/2010. But basically this appears when you create a meeting request and it does as it says, the schedules for attendees are analyzed and the best time is suggested based on everyone’s availability.  Take a look at this Microsoft article for information on this.

It’s worth noting that I’ve got my Outlook 2010 connected to an Exchange 2003 server, so there could be other functionality that is added or changed when connected to an Exchange 2010 environment.

In fact I’m sure there are plenty of other useful features around calendars and appointments, so if you find any please share them in the comments!

Share

Jul 26 2010

Outlook 2010 – a legal viewpoint – part 1

Jason

I’ve been running Microsoft’s Office 2010 on my home PC for about a month now and have to say I’m impressed. Well as impressed as you can be with an email client, a word processor and a spreadsheet application!

I thought I’d share in a few blog posts some of the really nice features of Outlook 2010 that I think will be useful for lawyers. For the first post I want to take a look at a couple of nice ways in which Outlook 2010 helps you organise and find email.

The conversation thread

This arrangement of the Inbox quickly tidies up all those email conversations. It allows you to maintain a date organised view of your emails, but then it groups a conversation into one line (see in the image below how the single email for Today is in fact a rolled up conversation).

Outlook-conversation-closed

click on the image to zoom

The conversation can then be expanded. The great thing about this is that it spans emails in other folders and even in other Outlook data files (e.g. a PST/archive file, which it does with my Archive Folders PST in the example below)

Outlook-conversation

click on the image to zoom

You can then quickly tidy up your email by a right click on the conversation and selecting “Clean up conversation”. This will then remove superfluous messages from the conversation.

Search

The search in Outlook 2010 is much nicer than previously (for information, my previously is Outlook 2003).

When you start typing in your search you quickly get a drop down to allow you to limit the search to a person (from) or subject if required.

Outlook-search-selection

click on the image to zoom

The results are then highlighted both in the subject and in the body of the email.

Outlook-search-results

click on the image to zoom

There is also a quick link at the bottom of the results to allow you to quickly expand the search scope from the folder you are in to all mail.

Finally on search, as with the rest of Outlook 2010, the ribbon is now here. After initial confusion as to where everything has gone, the ribbon becomes an asset. For example once you’ve done a search the ribbon switches to the search ribbon and provides useful options to you to use without having to go hunting through menus.

Outlook-search-ribbon

click on the image to zoom

There are a couple of reservations I have regarding search in Outlook 2010 searching though:

  1. Performance – the indexing of all the email data. I’m not noticing any performance impact on my PC (a fairly old Pentium 4 machine), but my exchange mailbox at home is only 60Mb and the PST file attached is only 560Mb. When you’ve got a lawyer with three or four 2Gb PSTs you could be testing your PC’s!
  2. If you’re planning to run on Windows XP – you will need to install the latest desktop search software from Microsoft, Outlook 2010 uses this for it’s search rather than an in built search. If you’re moving to Windows 7 this isn’t an issue.

Further thoughts

Whilst using these two pieces of functionality in Outlook 2010, one thing struck me.

How will this work with Document and Email management systems?

In the conversation threads how would this integrate with emails filed in the document management system (DMS)? Similarly with the search, integration to expand the scope of your search to include not just other mail in your inbox but emails in the DMS would be nice.

Microsoft has gone to some great lengths to really think about how you use email and streamline things to make everything just where you want it. There is a challenge for Legal IT providers to integrate into Outlook 2010 in a way that complements this.

Share