Following on from the readers poll in the last issue of the Legal Technology Insider newsletter, Avanquest made Sharepoint the topic for debate at its most recent roundtable lunch for IT directors in London last week. The debate was led by independent consultant Neil Cameron and these are a summary of the main points to arise – and which tend to suggest there are currently more questions than answers.

•    Sharepoint is still perceived as all things to all men

•    One key point raised presented a multitude of not very clear answers – What exactly is your firm trying to achieve and do with Sharepoint?

•    Many IT Ddrectors felt that Sharepoint was or will become one of the few IT solutions that present a real test for IT to really listen and understand what the business needs and wants

•    Nearly everyone agreed that level of freedom of speech and interaction or even anarchy, Sharepoint could bring the benefits of Sharepoint into doubt WITHOUT clearly defined and policed policy’s and guidelines for use, CONTROL of use is key to maximise the benefits of Sharepoint but who will create these policies, IT, HR, partners?

•    How can firms who could rely completely on Sharepoint as their portal and access to a variety of key applications deal with Business Continuity and DR for Sharepoint???

•    It was clear that Enterprise Search was and is a key area of concern for many firms, will they continue in the future to store data in application specific silos with their own indexing and searching capabilities or will there be one Enterprise Search function for everything that enables users to find anything anywhere from their Sharepoint portal?


•    Some felt quite strongly that Sharepoint is and will continue to enable them to reduce the number of bespoke and niche applications they need

•    From Microsoft’s perspective Sharepoint is their number one business application in terms of sales, with over 100 million Sharepoint licenses, that’s one in 20 MS licensed PCs in the world using  Sharepoint!

•    One prominent IT Director guaranteed that in 5 years there would be no DMS as we know it today instead this would all be done through and using Sharepoint.  Neil Cameron Predicated that fairly soon any enterprise portal/intranet will be run with Sharepoint

•    The biggest issue for Sharepoint to be used as a DMS or any other document related application is version control which out of the box is totally unworkable for the Legal Sector, yes 3rd parties are starting to address this but right now it is a big issue for firms. A few have had to write something themselves to address this issue

•    Microsoft defined SharePoint as an Information Management Platform – it is a toolset with which a firm can create a multitude of applications.

•    It was generally agreed that the vendors to have/are/will suffer from SharePoint are: 1) Portal vendors 2) Web Content Management solutions 3) Workflow solutions

•    There are no (or no good) Blackberry integrations with SharePoint at the moment.

•    A key reason many firms were looking so closely at SharePoint was because it can significantly reduce their ongoing software maintenance costs.

•    In addition to the point above recruiting staff with SharePoint skills is and will continue to be easier than recruiting people with specific application skills.