Workshare Point: Using Microsoft® Office To Manage Documents In SharePoint

Monday, February 28, 2011 - 01:00

Workshare Point is a desktop application to connect Microsoft ®Office users to SharePoint through integrated access via Outlook. The following report is based on a webinar presented February 8, 2011 by Workshare. The presenter was Kevin Docherty, Senior Product Manager. With 18,000-plus customers and 1.5 million users across multiple countries, Workshare's award-winning software has led the way in document collaboration.

Document management is among the more complicated, time-consuming and often risky challenges facing the legal profession. These challenges start with complex document production, which involves multiple ways of creating documents. From finished PDFs and master templates to initial Word document drafts, there may be multiple users working on the same document at the same time. It is critical to control this process, facilitate collaboration and preserve the integrity of documents - even better if you can increase efficiency and reduce errors. For example, users report wanting to work inside Outlook, which raises the question of easy access to documents from other repositories. Our challenge was to create software solutions that automatically live inside everyday Office applications.

Workshare Point addresses this challenge by providing seamless email and document management between Microsoft Office and SharePoint. In short, we integrated SharePoint's offline document repository capabilities with easy access via Outlook. A major benefit is that a document can be accessed and updated in Outlook and the new version synchronized back into the SharePoint repository. Workshare Point also can leverage FAST search technology, and it integrates with our other software to add features such as master document tracking, advanced document comparison, alerts for document changes and secure metadata removal.1Put simply, we enable users to retrieve and file content to SharePoint without leaving Microsoft Office - that saves time and increases productivity.

Workshare Point allows you to manage SharePoint files from Office and drive SharePoint technology from one convenient interface (Outlook) that can be customized for departments and specific end users. For example, when I create an email, the Workshare Point pane provides instant, drag and drop access to the universe of SharePoint documents and program functions: searching, unloading, deleting, organizing and attaching to emails. For legal use, this consolidated approach is an invaluable tool for day-to-day access to relevant information, particularly in a multiple-user environment, because it enables secure access to the most updated documents and information. This initial discussion of broad features brings us to the main theme: Workshare Point provides access to SharePoint documents without having to leave Outlook. Users benefit from not having to learn a new tool, and the organization benefits by providing a better user experience to access SharePoint.

For corporate counsel, Workshare Point addresses the need to balance individual legal tasks and department administration with overall corporate efficiencies. Legal departments often need broad access to corporate documents and email threads; however, legal department documents themselves must be kept more narrowly secure. Depending on the legal issue at hand, corporate counsel may need to review department- or executive-specific documents, which WorkShare Point can organize centrally. Discovery in complex litigation is facilitated by our single-platform access from Outlook, enabling legal department staff to collaborate efficiently or contract attorneys to jump right in without the need for systems training. Workshare Point allows access to the SharePoint document repository based on user profiles. In this way, corporate counsel and their departments get what they need from a single corporate-wide integrated system.

Below are some specific features and benefits of Workshare Point.

Integrated Access Via Outlook: Let's face it, everyone uses Outlook. Workshare Point simply capitalizes on this to create broader functionality within a program that already is part of the fabric of professional life. In terms of user comfort level and general appeal, it's the application equivalent of working in your pajamas. For managers of corporate legal departments, this means efficiency, accuracy, security and reduced stress, and there is an inherent synergy of time-management in being able to multi-task - check email, find and use documents and then check email again - without leaving Outlook.

Email Thread Management: General counsel manage a vast array of issues and are privy to sensitive information throughout large organizations. As such, email threads often are complex and span periods of weeks, sometimes years. Workshare Point allows central organization and a feature called suggestive filing, which proactively organizes information and maintains consistency of filing categories.

Enhanced SharePoint Browser: This feature allows you to customize your world. For example, you can create master folders and track which documents are being accessed by which users. For corporate counsel, documents can be organized around structural governance matters and specific legal issues of concern to corporations, such as labor and employment, international negotiations, consumer rights, environmental concerns and any matters specific to your business.

Centralized Document Management: Workshare Point enhances access to a central document repository, enabling efficient and secure access, even from remote locations. Access via Outlook provides a consistent user experience, regardless of location and dependent only upon having an Internet connection. Documents can be updated offline and then re-integrated by simply dragging and dropping back into the system. This feature is enjoyed by professionals at all levels. As managers of legal departments, general counsel can rest assured that their administrative document functions are managed at a systems level and not dependent upon the knowledge and physical presence of any single person. Offices run more efficiently and new employees require very little training.

Microsoft FAST and Document Profiling : Workshare Point exposes FAST search technology within the browser, though you do not need it to use the system. You can profile an individual document according to content so that you can find it easily. For example, corporate legal departments may create documents that address specific legal issues in one corporate context and then wish to recycle the content for another matter. If the content itself is not profiled, then it will be more difficult to find, increasing the probability that it will need to be duplicated.

Integration with Workshare Professional : Workshare Point integrates with Workshare Professional, giving you the ability to compare documents from within Outlook, and even versions within SharePoint. It also provides an alert when a returned document has been altered, performing an auto comparison in the background that allows you to preview the redline from within Outlook. This is an exceptional feature for legal departments and their need for document security - including, and maybe especially, with respect to document updates. After a document makes the corporate rounds, general counsel will appreciate having this safety net to ensure they are working with their own most current version of sensitive documents.

In summary, Workshare Point provides a solution for Microsoft users to work in their comfort zone and easily access the collaborative features of a SharePoint document repository. I invite you to visit Workshare's website at http://www.workshare.com/ products/point to view product details, see a demo of WorkShare Point and other products and request a 14-day trial. Finally, I welcome your emails with questions or comments. Thank you. 1MCC's readers may refer to our January 2011 article on Workshare's Protect Server and metadata removal at http://www.metrocorpcounsel.com/current.php?artType=view&EntryNo=11816.

Kevin Docherty is Senior Product Manager at Workshare.

Please email the presenter at kevin.docherty@workshare.comwith questions about this webinar.