Its efforts to turn SharePoint into a viable legal document management system have been the subject of many column inches, with Legal IT Insider founder Charles Christian famously comparing the DMS to the Monty Python dead parrot. But, we can reveal, Lewis Silkin has literally just signed on the line with NetDocuments in a move that will give the Utah-headquartered cloud-based DMS challenger its seventh site in the UK top 100. Nikec Solutions is the implementation partner.

The selection follows a two-way pitch between iManage Cloud and NetDocuments that began in around April and involved both a project board and reference group of 16 people that included partners, associates and business services people, who had significant input into the decision.

The project board consisted of head of IT Carol Skinner (pictured), service desk manager Michelle Taylor, chief executive Ian Jeffery and COO Graeme Wood.

Vendors were given two two-hour sessions: the first to demo the solution in broad terms and the second to demonstrate any advanced capability.

Skinner and her team then sat down for a oneto-one with the reference group and walked them through the two systems side by side, asking them to do what they do on a daily basis to see how the two systems compared in performance.

Skinner told us: “The group preferred the UI of NetDocuments. iManage felt disjointed; they have done some good stuff in Outlook but the web view looked a bit antiquated and not joined up.”

“The whole look and feel of NetDocuments was more joined up.”

With cloud the only option for the firm, Skinner says that speaking to other firms was of little help in terms of comparing the two systems because “no big UK firms have yet rolled out the iManage Cloud.”

Questions over performance and uptime were largely handled by the RFP and Skinner says: “We spoke to Travers, but they hadn’t rolled NetDocuments out yet and were just going through the process of setting it up.”

Things that swung it for NetDocuments in the feedback included:

– Users liked NetDocuments dashboard. Skinner said: “The expectation is that they will live there and that’s the thing they will see at home and everywhere.”

– iManage doesn’t have an Android app and a third of Lewis Silkin users use Android

– Cloud maturity: Lewis Silkin preferred NetDocuments’ longstanding accreditations

– NetDocuments has been integrated with Microsoft Office 365 since 2016 and users liked the seamlessness

– The feedback from users was that NetDocuments’

“UI within Outlook is really flexible in terms of where it sits, and it can be as large or small as you want it.” Skinner said: “iManage takes up a third of the page and is a bit intrusive.”

While much has been made of iManage’s acquisition of RAVN Systems and the additional search and analytics capability that brings, Skinner said that didn’t factor in the decision and “was an extra cost.”

“NetDocuments has good search functionality and I’m happy that it meets what we need,” Skinner said.

While NetDocuments was cheaper, Skinner says that wasn’t part of the selection process and the reference group weren’t told the cost in advance. “We didn’t want that to become the decision maker: you can always negotiate on costs,” she said.

Lewis Silkin is another example of the growing confidence of law firms, in particular Mimecast users, in moving their core systems to the cloud and the firm did not explicitly ask for client permission. “We answer so many client surveys and they are not worried about the cloud but they want you to have the right security,” Skinner said.

Lewis Silkin long ago outsourced all of its infrastructure with Exponential-e and uses cloud solutions such as ObjectiveManager for appraisals and business plans.

With regard to the parrot, Skinner says: “We’re on SharePoint 2007, which is now out of support. It’s been brilliant and done us proud for 10 years, but we now need more cloud functionality without having to use Citrix and need to work differently.”