The COVID-19 pandemic forced many professional services firms to adopt a remote work environment and, consequentially, digital collaboration technology to support their distributed workforce. Although multiple vendors provide dedicated tools for accounting firm collaboration, many firms chose to implement or expand their use of Microsoft Teams, which currently boasts more than 250 million monthly active users.
“When we talk with clients, they say that Microsoft provides a phenomenal foundational layer that helps their business professionals work effectively,” said Mark Holman, President of Accounting and Consulting at Intapp.
Jose Lazares, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Intapp, added: “Clearly, Microsoft Teams has emerged as a key central component of this digital transformation.”
During the recent Intapp Workspaces product briefing, “Transforming Microsoft Teams for Client-Centric Collaboration,” Lazares and Holman explored some of the challenges that Microsoft Teams users face, and how Intapp Workspaces and its Microsoft 365 integration capabilities can help firms make the most of their Microsoft investment.
Bridging the Gaps with Intapp Workspaces
“Like most horizontal software providers, Microsoft lacks a full understanding of what it really takes to work with firm professionals,” explained Holman. Some factors that Microsoft Teams fails to properly address include:
- Engagement-centric experience
- Automatic provisioning
- Application integration
- Engagement lifecycle management
- Security and governance
Lazares also emphasized the importance of building a connected firm to improve collaboration, and provided the following steps for maximizing efficiency across distributed teams:
- Connect people — Enable your engagement team to meet and collaborate virtually within a dedicated, access-controlled workspace from the instant an engagement is opened
- Connect processes — Provide your professionals with a unified view into their engagements from wherever they’re working
- Connect data — Connect and sync your firm’s disparate content sources, and prevent risk of information leakage with centrally enforced security policies
Although Microsoft Teams can’t properly meet all these requirements on its own, firms can implement Intapp Workspaces — and the entire OnePlace Collaboration & Content suite — to help fill in the gaps.
“OnePlace Collaboration & Content provides a significant set of capabilities to transform your Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams experience into a purpose-built set of solutions to help you drive your business,” said Lazares. OnePlace Collaboration & Content streamlines collaboration and help teams work smarter, and includes Microsoft 365 integration capabilities. The suite consists of three components:
- Intapp Workspaces provides engagement-centric intelligence and automation within Microsoft Teams to enhance accounting firm collaboration, leading to better business outcomes
- Intapp Documents orchestrates document management across all content sources for full lifecycle visibility and engagement-centric collaboration
- Intapp Client Collaboration boosts client transparency and empowers fee-earners to deliver exceptional client experiences
“Intapp Workspaces leverages the foundational Microsoft Teams capability you already have in your enterprise — and makes it better,” said Fergus Wilson, Senior Director of Engineering at Intapp. “It provides engagement visibility and lets your IT team better govern and manage workspace provisioning.”
Improving Engagement and Collaboration
Wilson demonstrated Intapp Workspaces during the product briefing, showing just how easy it is to locate and access relevant information within the software.
“The dashboards are filtered by clients, engagements, and collaboration spaces,” Wilson said. “The goal is to give an engagement team a full 360-degree view of that engagement. We can link to your other business applications and bring information from other systems, allowing users to collaborate effectively without having to switch applications.”
Intapp Workspaces also lets users create new teams or group channels and manage the lifecycle of those teams. Additionally, users can safely share information with external collaborators by setting up teams specifically for outside clients. External users can’t access anything within internal teams, ensuring that users don’t accidentally share internal information.
After the product demonstration, Holman shared how the U.K. accounting firm Armstrong Watson improved its document management and collaboration within Microsoft Teams via OnePlace Collaboration & Content.
“Armstrong Watson had an aging document management system,” Holman said. “The firm had started to work with Microsoft Teams when the pandemic hit. Within weeks, we were able to get the firm up and running with our product to let Armstrong Watson embrace Microsoft 365.”
After implementing OnePlace Collaboration & Content, Armstrong Watson used the native integration capabilities of Intapp Documents to connect with its other systems and Microsoft 365 applications, thereby providing centralized information access. Professionals can now easily access and manage this information both online and offline, allowing them to work more efficiently within their hybrid work environment.
Toby Woodhead, Head of Technology at Armstrong Watson, stated in our Armstrong Watson Case Study: “Standardizing on Microsoft 365 and [OnePlace Collaboration & Content] will make it easy to add all sorts of other products — such as an electronic document signing tool — because so many of these naturally integrate with Microsoft 365, as the suite does. This will massively reduce the cost of integration.”
Learn more about maximizing your Microsoft 365 investment with Intapp Workspaces: Watch the full recording of the product briefing, “Transforming Microsoft Teams for Client-Centric Collaboration” or schedule a demo.
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