Exclusive: Osborne Clarke to become first EMEA firm to rollout iManage Work 10 with MS Office 2016 and Windows 10

Osborne Clarke will soon become the first EMEA law firm to implement iManage Work 10 with Microsoft Office 2016 and Windows 10, it will announce later today (19 December). We spoke to IT director Nathan Hayes and iManage’s general manager EMEA, Geoff Hornsby about the steps taken so far, why Osborne Clarke is engaging now in the process, and how as a result, Microsoft has changed its advice to law firms.
Led by Hayes (pictured top right), UK top 50 firm Osborne Clarke has been working on a move to Windows 10 and Office 2016 for around 18 months, in order to deliver on an agile working strategy, including potentially expanding out on its hot desking model in Reading. More tech specifically, Hayes and the team want to take advantage of the likes of Lenovo’s hybrid laptop-tablets such as the Yoga Book and integrate with the new technology such as Iphelion Outline being brought on board.
Hayes said: “We were in a position where we wanted to move off 2010 for many reasons and didn’t want to go to 2013. We wanted to transition to Windows 10 and Office 2016 and wanted a new platform on which to roll out the new version of iManage Work.
“We’re very much seen as a commercial law firm provide clients with the best service and that means leveraging new technology.”
Hornsby (pictured bottom left) added: “Ordinarily the bigger the firm, the slower they are to move to the more modern technology: the impact of having multiple interactions between your Office suite and all the bits that integrate is not to be understated. Many firms are sitting on old suites – it falls into the “too hard” bucket,” adding, “For Osborne Clarke this is not about the technology but about enabling the firm to be more agile and deliver the type of service it wants to.”
Osborne Clarke went through an extensive testing and development process to ensure that all of the product suite it delivers to desktop and laptops were compatible with each other. Hayes said: “We did a lot of work identifying what the iterations and dependencies were. It took a long time to work through to make sure everything was up to date. There is a major flaw with Outlook, which is its inability to accommodate all the plug-ins we require to integrate with Outlook on later versions of Office. Outlook was unacceptably unstable. We had a massive process of talking to Microsoft and their initial response was to unplug everything, which is not tenable. So we went through a process of working out a solution. We worked with iManage to bring it to Microsoft’s attention. Then one of our engineers said why not give Office 2016 64-bit a go.”
Microsoft previously advised firms to use Office 2016 32-bit, but it didn’t provide enough memory for all of the required applications – a problem that has been fixed by moving to 64-bit.
Hayes said: “As a result, Microsoft has changed their advice to law firms that face this degree of integration with Outlook. That was a key stumbling block.”
Hornsby added: “There are a number of other firms with the same problem and they have now tried 64-bit – so this has helped a number of firms overcome quite a nasty problem.”
Moving to the 64-bit version of Office 2016 meant that Osborne Clarke had to work with all of its partners to make sure they supplied 64-bit versions of their software. Hayes says: “They all responded very well – they realised this was the solution they had to work with it and it’s not difficult to provide 64-bit.”
He adds: “Having managed to create a viable platform we went through a testing process across the UK, Netherlands, Singapore, and Germany and once the pilot was successfully completed, started to roll out in Singapore, closely followed by the Netherlands.”
The year-end means there will be a natural pause before going “full pelt” in January, starting with a roll out in the UK and then Osborne Clarke’s other offices around the world.
One of the benefits of moving to iManage Work 10 is its email filing solution. Hayes says: “A dependency on maintain the primary record poses a problem: without that integration it’s relatively straightforward to move to Office 2016 and Windows 10.”
In terms of hardware, Hayes and the team have been looking at standard laptops, tablets and hybrid devices, with the favourite a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga. Hayes says: “It provides users with a full laptop but has the capability of a touch screen. The drawback is weight. We’re also looking at a straight Lenovo tablet. The idea is to take advantage of those who need Windows 10 and a touchscreen operating system. We didn’t want to roll out Windows 10 without Office 2016 decided to go for a complete refresh.”
Osborne Clarke is looking at range of tools to suit users’ working practices. Hayes says: “There is no point in providing a hybrid unless you are going to change your working practices. There is no point in having OneNote unless you’re prepared to exchange your handwritten notebook for OneNote. If you’re going to switch out, the fact that we can secure the OneNote notebook is a real benefit.”
Lawyers at Osborne Clarke, which was one of the first law firms to introduce hot desking, in its Thames Valley office, have long been agile, and mobile security is not a new issue. The firm, which is just going through its ISO 27001 accreditation, is mid-way through a consultation and design phase to introduce agile working into its London office, with the intention that all desktop PCs are appropriate for hot desking.
While users will over the start of 2018 be rolled out onto Windows 10 and Office 2016, iManage Work 10, which is more touch sensitive and adjusts to the screen, is in the backend and will not go live until the new Office suite is stable.
Hornsby said: “They’ll get Office out there and make sure the system is stable. They already have Work 10 at the server but it’s a matter of switching it on. This is about getting iManage ready. As soon as they’re comfortable with the global rollout they can switch it on.
“Osborne Clarke is leading the way for the EMEA legal community as they move to the very latest version of the desktop.”