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IRIS issue update on product strategy roadmap

Coinciding with its ILUA users association annual conference taking place today and tomorrow in the East Midlands, IRIS Legal Solutions has released more details about its product strategy roadmap. The key points are…

• The company has resolved the issues with both the ILB (IRIS Law Business – the old Mountain system) and the ILE (IRIS Law Enterprise – the old Videss enterprise) products – and has now restarted migrations to ILE. IRIS is now quoting Gepps, James Legal, Morrish, FBC and Pitmans as ILE reference sites.

• Plans to make ILE a hybrid Progress-embedded-within-Microsoft SQL Server type product* have been dropped and instead ILE will be an exclusively Progress-based platform, while simultaneously ILB has benefited from improvements in its architecture to make it scalable to a larger size of firm than Mountain typically catered for. The net result is that IRIS is effectively offering ILB as its SQL Server solution to firms of all size, including – presumably – the old AIM user base. (*Interestingly LexisNexis took the same decision with its Visualfiles Manila-now-Streamline product and abandoned a Progress+SQL mix for all SQL Server.)

• IRIS has also launched IRIS Law Analytics this week – the first of a series of new IRIS Law modules that will run on both the ILE/Progress and ILB/SQL platforms. Analytics, as the name implies, is a new management information/KPI reporting application.

• Support for existing AIM and Videss users (ie those unsure whether to opt for ILE or ILB) has been extended until “at least” December 2012, to allow them more time to move, as they respond to the recession.

• Although outside the current roadmap, the old Opsis and AlphaLaw businesses remain operating independently with their current product portfolio – and in fact the AlphaLaw debt recovery product is now being cross-sold into the main IRIS user base.

Here's the roadmap in full…

In April 2008, we announced our vision for IRIS Legal and
the commitment of a multi-million pound investment to deliver that vision. Here
are the Top 7 major advances we have made:

1.            We
are now restarting migrations to ILE (Progress)

The majority of the backlog of early adopters have
now been migrated.

We have some good reference sites (Gepps, James
Legal, Morrish, FBC, Pitmans).

The key stability & functionality issues in
earlier releases have been addressed.

2.            ILE
releases are now being consistently delivered on time

Version 1.9 on track for 9th October
2009 release to customers.

Shorter release cycles mean improved
functionality delivered faster.

Roadmap is available so customers can be
confident of future deliveries.

3.            Extensive
feedback from customers has been built into Roadmaps

Customer requirements and priorities have been
included in product plans

Extension of support to at least December
2012 for AIM and Videss clients to allow more time to move, as they respond to
the recession.

New functionality is already delivering the IRIS
Legal vision

IRIS Law Analytics (phase 1) – Early Adopter –
Oct, General Availability – Nov

Realisation of first stage of IRIS Vision –
works with ILE & ILB

Provides Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
dashboard – reflects market needs in a challenging economic environment

Web enablement.  Fee Earners Desktop will be available for ILB and we are
investigating options for ILE

5.            Customer
choice – Progress or SQL?

Whilst we remain committed to ILE on Progress for
many of our Enterprise customers, other customers have requested an MS SQL

As an update to the product strategy published
last year, our intention is to make both Progress and MS SQL platforms
available to firms of all sizes and specialism.

An accelerated Road Map is being delivered to
provide IRIS Law Enterprise for SQL customers by enhancing IRIS Law Business
(“ILB”) to deliver enterprise functionality.

6.            So
how have we enhanced ILB?

Improvements to architecture to allow
scalability and easier integration with 3rd
party products to
deliver benefits to larger firms including the provision of browser
capabilities for end users.

Roadmap of functionality typically required by
larger firms including Credit Control, document bundling, digital dictation
integration and enhanced Laserform integration.

Roadmap plans to include graphical customisable
workflows suitable for Enterprise firms using the latest Microsoft workflow

Close working relationship with Microsoft as a
Gold Partner.

7.            How
are we improving migrations?

Investment in tooling developed with “enterprise
data transformation” experts Transoft – who are part of the IRIS Group. 

Tooling will facilitate easier and more cost
effective migrations for customers

Dedicated Product Management – Chris Doran


10 replies on “IRIS issue update on product strategy roadmap”

A curious a war on two fronts, sql and progress platforms with ILA stradling both camps. One is feature rich and one is scalable but neither is both. So onwards to Moscow then…..

An analytics package that is platform independant is actually a good thing, indicating that it is probably decently designed.
If it was only tied to one platform it would be more worrying.

Good point. Rather like LexisNexis Redwood Analytics suite for Elite, Aderant etc.

As a competitor I am going to continue to post anonymously but I would image that there is much in here to give long suffering Iris customers some comfort. There is rather less for the opposition to get their teeth into. Extending the end of life and dangling the carrot that they may never end of life will be well received but of course it must limit the resources available for new development.
I am confused though by point 5 – Progress or SQL. I can understand the desire to offer a choice but surely if the intention is to enhance ILB to deliver ILE functionality with SQL nobody will want ILE anymore as with ILB you will get SQL, all the good bits from ILE and all the good bits from ILB.
You wouldn’t pick Progress over SQL so surely nobody will buy ILE now and will wait for the enhanced ILB?

at last – an anonymous post that is pragmatic and honest designed to raise informed debate. Am I on the rag?

“Fate, it would seem, is not without its sense of irony.”
Your analysis would imply that the Progress platform has no future and that to go forward users will have to Regress in functionality to ILB. However the speed at which progress on the addition of ILE functionality to ILB is limited by the resources devoted to keeping the ILE patient alive.
The choice they have given the Iris Customers is a curious one and perhaps an analogy of our constrained times:
The quicker everyone on one product goes backward then the quicker they can go forward on another.
As another poster mentioned it's a war on two fronts. Let us hope they make peace on one front and can devote all their resources on winning on the remaining one.

Why does everyone jump up and down evey time Iris mention Progress? We never hear this sort of thing when the other Progress users such as SOS, Eclipse and Visual files are mentioned.
Progress products and technology are used by nearly 140,000 organizations in more than 180 countries, including 70% of the American Fortune 100 companies. Progress technology provides the infrastructure for applications as diverse as ERP and financial trading, across industries as diverse as retail, manufacturing, telecommunications, financial services, and government.

I think that is the point really.
There are companies that have made an investment in Progress and are quite happy to continue using it. There are companies that have made an investment in SQL Server and are quite happy to continue using it. There are companies that have made an investment in neither and can make an informed choice about which to invest in.
Choice all round, which is good

I'm not so sure that is true, on both the regression in functionality and dedicated resource comment, do they not have development teams for both products ?? There is a finite number of resource you can throw at any product at any one time before developers start tripping over themselves. “too many chefs …” and all that.

A very interesting series of blogs and at least IRIS have now published some sort of strategic roadmap that has a plan. However, whilst there appears to be a debate about the merits of SQL over Progress or vice versa the key element is at the strategic business level.
Behind the statement appears to be almost an acceptance that the business is in a rush to get to the end of 2012 and some semblance of order with clients migrated to one of two systems rather than the current portfolio of Videss, AIM, Mountain, GB Systems, Opsis, AlphaLaw, Laserforms etc. I suspect the leaders of the business are saying to themselves ‘if we started all over again we’d never start here’ and of course they didn’t they inherited the rather flawed strategy from CSG.
The best analogy would be in comparison to Microsoft in that the group of independent companies had solid but not particularly exciting applications that they got right over the years i.e. Windows XP. Along comes CSG and we have it marketed as Windows Vista which didn’t exactly go down well. Whether or not IRIS can produce a Windows 7 remains to be seen but I rather suspect they have an acceptance that it goes something like this:
The new IRIS is created from the ‘old IRIS and CSG’ right at the peak of the market. Let’s say they have 2,000 PMS clients from 7 different acquisitions (we can forget forms and the barristers sector for a moment) and overheads of 1,000 units just to make in simple.
Due to various constraints that have been highlighted in previous blogs etc the strategy has been to move the above to two platforms with the final acceptance that there are going to be significant casualties on route in terms of staff and clients. Why well the attrition rate has been significant and if the suppliers are to be believed we may well see something like 30 to 50% over the 5 year period given the mood in the market. Let’s say they therefore end up with 1,000 solid PMS sites, they’ll have reduced overheads significantly to around 300 units so bingo a better ratio.
I’m sure most of you out there reading this have yet to meet any senior IRIS employee from the original independents, with any experience in the sector, who privately is remotely enthused about what’s happened and the next 2 years. They seem to sum it up by saying ‘take several good companies, wreck them between 2006 and 2009, attempt to rebuild a fatally wounded animal between now and 2012 and let’s hope we’ve got some kind of user base left at the end of it.’
IRIS Legal though will emerge in 2012 as a reasonably significant player with a consolidated technology platform. The new entity though will be nothing like what was envisaged in 2006/7 and CSG will have been remembered for two things:
1. Putting large sums of money into the pockets of a few suppliers’ owners and thus creating a short term vehicle for making money out of money for shareholders that wasn’t sustainable for those that remained behind once it was sold i.e. clients and staff.
2. Creating a new business market that would have never existed during the credit crunch if it had not been for CSG and then IRIS.

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