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Outlook Sync in AbacusLaw

Free Training Friday, AbacusLaw

Did you know that Outlook can be configured to link emails and attachments to Names/Matters in AbacusLaw? Find out how you can make Outlook and AbacusLaw work together in a more seamless way in just 15 minutes!

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Video Transcription

All right. Good morning, good afternoon. Wherever you're joining us from. If everyone could just please confirm you can not only hear me well, but you can also see our shared screen, just go ahead and raise your hand or just give us a shout out on the chat panel, that'd be great. All right. Suzanne, Romy, Tammy, Kathy, Debbie, thanks everybody.

All right everyone. Thanks for showing up today, my name is Andrew Perez, and I'm Online Content Manager here at Abacus Next. Want to thank you all for signing up for today's webinar: Outlook Sync in Abacus Law. Well, before we get started, just a couple of quick housekeeping notes, please feel free to submit any questions you have throughout the presentation using our chat panel. We'll answer your questions in the order that we receive them at the end of the presentation. This training will run for about 15 or 20 minutes and then we'll tack on another 10 minutes or so of Q&A to the end. I'd like to introduce our speaker today, Scott Heist. Scott is Senior Training Specialist here at Abacus Next and he'll be our guide in our training today. So, without further ado, I'll hand it over to you, Scott.

All right, thanks Andrew. I hope everybody can hear me okay. Thanks for joining us today. Like Andrew said, we're going to be looking at the Outlook Sync features in Abacus Law. And real quick, before I opening up some of these preferences and showing you how to do it. I just want to kind of define something that I've seen throughout the years, just sometimes the terminology gets a little mixed up. Outlook syncing, when we're talking about syncing, that's really when we're referring to taking data, either within Abacus, or within Outlook and pushing them into the other program. So if I have a calendar event in Outlook, I want the system to automatically sync that over to my Abacus calendar, and of course vice versa. It's a little bit different than an email linking, although the term does get interchanged I've noticed while training. Just keep that in mind. I'm going to show you both, of course, today. But there is a difference between a data sync and actually linking an email to a case inside of Abacus.

Now, to set it up, which is actually what we're going to go over today, you actually do it in the same area underneath your user preferences. So, let's get right to that now. Inside of your program, make sure you are logged in as yourself. You don't want to login as somebody else at your computer because usually your Outlook program is specific to your machine, your computer. So, it's important, if you're setting this up for somebody else in your office, make sure you sit down at their computer where their Outlook is installed and you actually log into the Abacus for them as them. Okay, so just keep that in mind.

And then, we're just going to go to File, Setup, User Preferences. I'm sure this is a familiar area to most of you. Now, on this user preference tab, notice again, back to what I was saying earlier, these are user preferences for the specific ID that is listed. This is not a global type of setting that we're setting up here. Make sure, then, you go into Printing/Email. This little tab in the middle. And then in the bottom right, you're going to see the option for MS Outlook and the setup button. If this is your first time ever logging in or going to this section. What you're probably going to see is that the radio button is selected here, where it says Other Email Preference. So, you'll need to change that if it's your first time, just click that MS Outlook button, click your setup button.

And that's going to take you into the Outlook integration preferences. Everything that's on this main screen on the left side, you'll notice this actually relates to our Calendar. Our Calendar and our Names I should say. It includes both. So, notice these check boxes here, the first three. First thing you need to set up, is obviously the check box for enabling the Outlook Sync. You have to turn that on. And then, of course, if you don't want to do it anymore you can deselect that and that will turn it off. And then you can also choose some additional options as far as syncing when you start your program, syncing when you shut down, it's really up to you. I would say that usually what most people end up setting, or at least what I've seen, is they'll set Outlook Sync enabled, they'll check that box, and then they'll usually set their setting here, the sync time, to be 15 minutes. You can change that to a lesser time if you wanted. If you want it to more of a real time sync you can do that. Five minutes though, is about a close as we can get you to being real time.

But, once you have that selected, you need to check out the rest of these tabs here across the top. Specifically, Names and Events, because this is going to have to do with your contacts that you're syncing over into the Abacus program. Which, by the way, is a great way to get your contacts into the system for the very first time. If you are one of our clients that did not have us do a data import for you. In other words, you were just going to take care of it yourselves, maybe manually entering in your contacts and cases. This tab is a great way to take some of that time off your hands and actually just sync over your Outlook contacts. But, be mindful of the method that you're using. Do you want this to sync both ways? Or, maybe you only want to sync from Abacus to Outlook. Or maybe you just want to turn it off and not sync names at all. So you can make that decision here.

You can also, when you sync over names, I don't know if you've noticed this in Outlook, but you can actually apply notes to your contacts in Outlook. We have a note feature inside of Abacus Law as well. So, you can actually sync over notes as well, and those will go into the Note tab for each of your contacts inside of Abacus once it does that sync. And then it gives it a nice little type there, so it's identifiable. Notice it gives it a type of Outlook, so that way you know that that note actually came over from the Outlook program.

Now that's going to cover it for Names as far as the different items that you'll want to just keep an eye on there when you're setting up the Names part of the sync.

Now, Events, though. This is where most people are really interested. Because usually the Events, that's a constant type sync that you're always wanting to do. As a general rule, and I tell everybody this when I train them, you want to always try and make the Abacus calendar your primary point of calendaring entry if you can. But, I get it, you're going to be in court sometimes, you're not going to be at your desk sometimes, and you're going to have to enter that into your Outlook. That's okay. But just try and get in the habit of making Abacus your primary calendar. Because, you just have to remember all the great features that go along with creating an event in Abacus, right. We can link it to Matters, we can create deadline rules and things like that. Things that you really can't do inside of Outlook. But, if you are going to be doing it, this is a great feature to get it pushed over.

But the same type of sync methods that we used in Names, we still have to apply that for Events here as well. Do we want to synchronize our changes in both directions? That means the sync is going both ways. It's going from Outlook to Abacus, and it's going from Abacus to Outlook. Or, do we only want to transfer one way? Where we're only transferring from Abacus to Outlook, or of course again, we can turn off the sync altogether. Again, if you're doing it both ways, you just need to be mindful of your data entry. You don't want to enter that deposition appointment's at 1:00 PM today inside of Outlook and then get into the office and enter it into Abacus as well, because you could possibly end up with some sort of duplicate. So, if you enter it into Outlook, make sure you just let the sync move it over to Abacus. And then, of course, vice versa.

You have some other things here. Some other settings that you can set up here. Including syncing alarms. So if your appointment has an alarm attached to it, a 15 minute alarm, or a 30 minute alarm prior to the appointment. That can sync over as well. And then notice, by default, the option for Personal, and Private, and Confidential events, notice that it's deselected by default. We recommend keeping that that way. That way it's not syncing over your personal events as well. In, other words, if you have your kid's dentist appointment on your Outlook calendar, hopefully you're marking that personal in Outlook, and that will not get synced up. Same thing, if it goes the opposite way. If you're marking that as a Private event on your calendar in Abacus, that won't get synced over into Outlook.

Phone number mapping is another thing that kind of relates back to the contact record, here. This is just your way of telling the system where you want that data to show inside of the Abacus system. Business telephone numbers would be going into the Day Phone field inside of an Abacus contact record. Home phone in Outlook is going to go into Evening Phone in Abacus. Business Fax goes into Phone 3. Mobile Telephone goes into Phone 4. Notice the display name, over here on the right. This'll actually shows you how it's displayed inside of Abacus. So, other words, Mobile Phone is going into the field called Cell inside of an Abacus contact record. Now, once you have all of these settings completed, including your queries, if you are familiar with queries inside of the program, you'll want to take a look at this because this is going to decide what qualifies to be synced and what doesn't. So make sure you're looking at that. If you have any questions about how to create queries in the program, you can check out our knowledge base. We also have some videos on our training video page and, of course, you can always contact professional services, and we can set up a training session for you.

Once you have all of your settings here in place, you can click that wonderful sync button, and that's going to take care of your actual syncing. Any item that's inside of Outlook is going to go over to Abacus, anything in Abacus is going to go over to Outlook. Assuming that you have the two way sync enabled. So I'm going to go ahead and close out of that.

We're going back now to that original user preferences tab. Again, you get to that just like I did before here. File, Setup, User Preferences. Go to your Printing/Email tab, and on that Printing/Email tab there is your MS Outlook button, and you click Setup. And now, what we're talking about is the email linking options. There's a button here, inside of that tab that says, Outlook Add-In Setup. You want to click that button, and make sure that the user who uses that computer, who uses that Outlook program. Make sure that their Abacus initials are in this field. That's how the system knows which user is utilizing that Outlook on that computer. Once you've done that, you can make sure that your Outlook program is completely closed on your computer. And then, once you know Outlook is completely closed out, you can click this button that says, Enable the Add-In. Once you click that button, Enable the Add-In, what you're going to end up with, let me just drag my Outlook over here for you. When you re-open your Outlook program, you are going to have a button on your toolbar here that says Abacus. So, if you're using the latest version of Outlook, you'll have the button up here on your toolbar. If you're an older version, if you don't see the button on your top toolbar, you may want to go to file and then check your options because sometimes it can go there as well.

Bu what we're going to want to do here, is click our email that we want to link to a case in Abacus and then click our Abacus button and choose Link to Abacus. When you choose the option for Link to Abacus, what this does, is links the email in its entirety and also links any attachments to that email. Now, there are going to be some cases where you just want to save the attachments, you don't care about the email. You'll see that a lot if it's, maybe a forward from one of the other attorneys in the office, and they're just telling you, "Hey, can you attach these documents to the case?" If that's the scenario, then you can just click Save Attachments, and it will just save those attachments. But I'm going to click Link to Abacus here. And that's going to open up my linking window where I can choose a Matter and Name to link this to. So I just lick my Matters button, search for the case that I want to link it to. Choose a name, if I need to. I can also bill for it directly from this window if I need to. But once I click link, that sends the email over to our program. Let me cancel out of these windows here.

And now, if I open up my Matters database, and I pull up that case, on my emails tab, there's my email. I have note text here for the body the email that I can read. I can also open this email directly from this case, so if I double click here on this. See how it opens inside my Outlook program? So this is nice, if the email comes to the attorney, but the paralegal needs to see it, if the attorney's linking it to the case, they can just look at it right here in Abacus rather than it having to be forwarded to them.

Same thing goes for, if you are sending an email. When you click that Send button, you're going to get a pop-up just like you did with the incoming email. At this point you can choose your name and matter, [inaudible 00:16:12] choose Link and Send and that will link it to your case. If this is just a personal email, or something that doesn't pertain to a case, no big deal. You can just click the button that says Send (don't link), and it will just send the email, it won't link it to a case.

So, that is the basics of setting up your Outlook Calendar and Names sync as well as making sure that you're utilizing the Abacus email linking feature, which is definitely a handy feature, especially if you're going to be billing for those emails. If you have a running list of emails inside of your cases, it makes life a lot easier when you go to bill for those items.


I got into the webinar a few minutes late, could Isee the Outlook integration box that you initially opened when we started?

Absolutely. It's always good to do a little review. So we can go to File, Setup, User Preferences. And, John, in case you didn't hear it, you want to make sure you're doing this from that Outlook user's computer. So, go to Printing/Email, make sure you have MS Outlook selected here. Click your setup button, and then you need to decide how you want the sync to occur. Do you want it to be every 15 minutes, every 5? Do you want it to just sync at startup or shutdown? Different things like that. And, then of course, when it comes to syncing the names. Do you want it to go both ways? Do you want it to only be active names? Events. Do you want it to sync both ways? Do you want to sync Alarms, To-Dos, Things like that.

To-Dos, by the way, this is a terminology thing. We call them To-Dos in Abacus, Outlook calls them Tasks. They are the same thing, so just keep that in mind.

Is it possible to tell the Link to Abacus button in Outlook to automatically populate the Name and Matter field based on identity of the To: person in the Outlook field?

That's actually a great question. And, here's the thing. It actually will do that, if you have, in the Name record, an email address in this field. The contact has to have an email address inside of Abacus in order for that to automatically suggest to you. So, if you do have an email address in that field, and it's not doing that, please let our technical support staff know and they'll be able to look at that for you and see what's going on there.

Also, another thing too, just to kind of add onto that. If you choose a Matter, the client name will automatically load into the Name field on that linking screen and you can change it if you want to or blank it out, whatever you choose.

I currently have a stand-alone version. In order to sync with other people, we need a network version, right?

Well, when you say stand-alone version, do you mean stand-alone version of Outlook, or a stand-alone version of Abacus? If it's possible you could look for that answer, Andrew. But, it's really going to depend. It really depends on how your system is set up. The general rule is, anytime you're wanting to share things amongst others in the office, yes the program should be networked, whether it's Outlook or it's Abacus. That, I would err on the side of caution there on that question, and just have them networked.

She clarified with stand-alone for Abacus.

Stand-alone for Abacus. So, yes, in order for them to access the email withinside of the Abacus program they would need to have a network install, so that you guys are actually accessing the same system.

My attachments won't link in Abacus, but the email itself will. How can that be corrected?

So, sometimes this can be a little confusing but, if we look at a case here, remember you have an Emails tab, and you also have a Documents tab. If are linking a full email that has attachments to it, the email itself gets linked to the Email tab, and the attachments go to the Documents tab. And then in the Documents tab, the doc name usually specifies Outlook. It might actually be the Type column, usually specifies Outlook. So you may just want to double check that. I know you won't be able to see the attachments in the Emails tab. But you should be able to see them in the Docs tab, and if you're not, definitely let us know, we need to take a look at that in your system.

I've been unable to get my Abacus to successfully sync to Outlook. I get an error message and my IT guy can't figure it out. I'm using the current version of Abacus and Outlook 2016. The problem started after an update to Outlook a few months ago. Are you aware of any issues with Outlook updates that may have caused this, and what can I do?

That's a good question. I guess it would really depend on where the error is stemming from. Is it an Outlook error, or is it an Abacus error that you're getting when you try and set up the Add-In. We really need to take a look at the error, to be able to figure it out. But, to your point, whenever you're integrating with a third party program, we are kind of at the mercy of the updates that those third party softwares release. At Abacus, we kind of pride ourselves on staying up-to-date on different things like that. Especially with Office programs. So, a couple little things that I would probably point my investigative eye towards would be user rights on the computer first off. Try making yourself a full blown admin on that Outlook profile and see if that alleviates the problem, another thing that could potentially cause an issue would be if you have any sort of antivirus or security program that scans your Outlook settings and things like that, it could be attempting to disable that add-in. So, I would look there first, but, again, our technical support team is world class, please give them a call and they'll be happy to take a look at it and get it squared away for you.

"Will the bi-directional Abacus sync take the most recent information and use it to replace the older info?

It does, assuming that you are updating. Let's say I have an appointment on my calendar for 12:00 PM today, and that gets synced over to Outlook. Let's say that gets postponed and I move it out to tomorrow. If I update that event inside of Abacus, it's going to update that event inside of Outlook as well. So, it should take care of it there. As well as any text updates and things like that, that you have inside of Abacus. It should. It should do that. Assuming that you have not manually edited the event inside of Outlook or done something that would make Abacus think that it is a separate event, it should do that yes.

I sent an email earlier in the week describing how Abacus changes what is in the Outlook Meeting and Appointment Request by moving text and deleting text, which is in the bottom box. Can you address that?

I'll have to take a look at that. If something gets changed in the events, and then a two way sync occurs, yes, it could potentially change that text. But the way we set up the Abacus program, is that if somebody makes a change to an event it usually logs that change within the event. So, for instance, if I were to change this date here, from 8/5 to, let's say, 8/6 and save that. Notice how it added an editing line telling me that I did that.If you want to email me directly, I'm happy to take a look at that ticket and see if we can help you out.

After linking Abacus with email, how do you have the Abacus tab show up on Outlook?

Well, the Abacus tab in Outlook should always be there. If you're not seeing that for some reason, then it sounds like Outlook has potentially disabled the Add-In. So, this is not an uncommon thing to happen if there's some sort of Outlook update or something like that. So, give me just one sec here and I'll show you how you can get that back.

If you log into Outlook and you no longer see this Abacus button. The first place you should look is File, Options, Add-Ins. In this little Add-Ins window, you should have a section called DisabledAdd-Ins, and potentially, Inactive Add-Ins. So, at this point I could come in here and choose how to manage my disabled items. When I click Go, that's going to open up a list of all of my disabled items. And what you'll probably see in there, Sergio, is one that is specific to Abacus, it'll say Abacus Outlook App. You'll want to click on that, select enable, and then when you close and re-open your Outlook you should see that option back in there. So again, you'd want to go to File, Options, Add-Ins. Look for that Abacus Outlook add-in in the disabled items list and enable that by clicking the Go button there.

I just entered an appointment in Outlook and then clicked sync in Abacus and the appointment is not showing up on Abacus. Is there a lag, or wait time?

Well, there could potentially be. By default, the wait time is 15 minutes if you didn't adjust it yourself. So, again, if you go back into File, Setup, User Preferences. Click on your Printing/Email tab, MS Outlook, Setup, this is what you want to make sure you look for. So, in other words, if I enter something into Outlook, the way I have this right now, I'm not going to see it in Abacus for 15 minutes. You can change that to five. Five is the minimum amount of time that we can go there. Now, if you get past that time and you still don't see it, I would probably say there may be something in the query on the Event tab that could potentially be wrong. Maybe it's not syncing that type of event or something along those lines. But if you haven't changed anything like that, it should be syncing if after that time period. If you are still having with it then, please let our tech support staff look at it and they should be able to figure out why its doing that.

How can we tell Abacus to stop stripping out the content/text of an event in Outlook when the system completes a sync?

We'll have to take a look at that. Can you shoot me an email with a screenshot of that? IShoot me an email with a screenshot of that, I'd like to take a look at it, and then I can figure out sort of a solution for you.

I'm trying to make sure that my billing entries appear in order by making sure that the date and time order of emails in notes is correct. But, on my pre-bills, emails and notes still appear out of order within a particular date. Is this fixable?"

So, you should be able to sort, in your pre-bills, how those things itemize. So, let's get together and let me take a look at that. The short answer is yes, we should be able to correct that. But let's get together and let me take a look at that for you and I'll get you squared away on that.

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