As a sole practitioner who pretty much wears all the hats in my practice, I rely heavily on technology. I lean towards SaaS or “cloud computing” whenever possible because SaaS is usually the least costly and more frequently updated technology. Of course, data security is the primary item I research, followed closely by longevity of the company offering the service.
I also run quite a few of the tried-and-true desktop applications. In my unending quest to find something to write about on this blog, I’ve decided that droning on about the technology I use could take up quite a few blog posts. I’ll start with the application I probably use the most all day, everyday – Gmail.
I was one of the lucky geeks who received one of the initial invites to Gmail. As a result, I snagged first pick for my Gmail address and have used it ever since. I could invent an email address (or more than one) on my web host, but there are too many things I love above Gmail that I can’t imagine living without:
- Accessibility: I can access my Gmail through my Blackberry, Microsoft Outlook, or on the web and any actions I take through any of those methods automatically apply across the board since I access via IMAP. For instance, once I read an email, it’s shows up as “read” across all of the methods I use to look at my inbox. The same applies if I choose to mark the email as “unread” so that I can deal with it later.
- Search and Retrieve: The searching ability is astoundingly fast. I can search by subject, sender, date, etc. and the results show up practically in seconds – no matter how far back the email was sent. I archive everything client and practice management-related so that I can retrieve it later. I do print out some of my more comprehensive email strings, but a lot of them are simply archived on Google’s server.
- Storage: And on the subject of archiving – I don’t have to worry about server space because that’s Google’s job. Someday I anticipate I’ll have to buy more space from Google, but for now, I’m riding on their storage dime.
- Junk: The spam control is satisfactory and Google politely retains my spam for 30 days which enables me to scan it quickly to make sure nothing gets mistakenly categorized as spam. Happily mis-categorization is a rare occurrence.
- Organization: Labeling is another way of making folders. In the web application I have my labels color-coded so that everything to do with clients is one color, routine practice administration emails are another color and emails requiring follow up are bright red.
- Containment: I have more than one email account. I have my business account, a personal account, my old law school account and list-serve related accounts. I run all of them through my main Gmail account so that I don’t have to check more than one spot.
The only real complaint I have about Gmail is their Contact List which is clunky and doesn’t play well with Outlook unless I use a third-party application. I eagerly await the day Google overhauls their contact manager, but until that time, I will impatiently get by with the third-party solutions.