DLA Piper’s CIO talks us through the UK and EMEA iManage Cloud selection

Editor Caroline Hill chatted to DLA Piper’s CIO Paul Gilford about the strategy, process and timing of the firm moving to the iManage Cloud across the UK and EMEA.

Paul, remind everyone where you are in terms of your current DMS stack. 

We’ve been iManage users on premises for a long time – as long as anyone can remember, and we’ve been pretty happy with that. We’ve been looking at the cloud solution for some time. I took over from Daniel [Pollick] in 2018 and in 2019 went to Chicago to discuss cloud with iManage. But then Covid came along, and it was just a case of when we can get to it, plus it has been quite a long decision-making process. In fact, the decision itself was quite quick, but it was a long due diligence process, because we needed to be sure that we understood that what we wanted and what we’d be getting were aligned.  

When did you make a decision? 

We decided in June this year. We reached the decision internally that that was what we wanted to do and then there was some to-ing and fro-ing before we could sign and announce. We have kicked off the implementation. 

Who is leading it? 

It’s an IT led implementation but we’ve got quite a sophisticated arrangement in terms of business input and how we managed stakeholders. In terms of the implementation, iManage are the SI, not a third party. They offered to do it. And the fewer parties we can have involved and more accountability with one party, the better. The bigger question would be is there a reason to do something different to this and there wasn’t.  

And what were your key criteria to move to the iManage Cloud? 

We’ve had a strategic direction to move our systems to the cloud and we’ve been running to that agenda since 2019/20. And so, this is just a part of that direction and that’s the direction of travel for all systems where possible. In terms of the criteria, we looked at:

  • Product functionality; 
  • Alignment between our roadmap and iManage’s – because in buying a SaaS system, you’re not just buying functionality today, but based on their roadmap; 
  • System availability and performance resilience, especially in our geographies such as Asia Pac; 
  • Adherence to regulatory and security requirements in all jurisdictions;  
  • Ability to deliver; 
  • Financial status of the provider; 
  • Reference calls with other customers. 

Is there now really another thought process or option than cloud? 

We had all those discussions back in 2019 and although we’ve got a variety of clients across many sectors, it’s not an obstacle for us.  

What will be the key differences for the firm in having iManage Cloud? 

Had we made a different decision we would have had a significant change project on our hands but I don’t see this as a significant change project. The users will see improvement especially in terms of performance. iManage runs on Azure in the background and a lot of work is going on with iManage and Microsoft. One of our key criteria was that users want to be able to open big documents quickly and work on them fast without any lag or latency.  

When will iManage Cloud be implemented? 

We are expecting to get it done by end of 2024.

It’s interesting that DLA in the US opted to move to the iManage Cloud almost precisely a year ago. Clearly DLA is a verein and you have separate businesses but what is the situation with your cloud and the US cloud? 

It’s separate but with some connection between the two – the US firm went iManage SaaS ahead of us and that informed our decision. It wouldn’t make any sense to make divergent decisions.