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Rumour du Jour: Sharepoint set to take over world?

There are rumours (we've now heard from vendors, integrators, consultancies and law firms) going around that a number of large UK law firms are set to abandon their traditional DMS proprietary platform strategies and switch over to Microsoft Sharepoint – either with bespoke projects or going with the Open Text LIM option. There are also suggestions that the next few weeks will see swapouts from at least one Autonomy iManage DMS site – an added factor here being Open Text will be offering Windows 7 compatibility ahead of Autonomy. We will keep you posted – meanwhile that sound you hear coming out of Clifford's Inn/Chancery Lane is Jan Durant of Lewis Silkin laughing as she says “I told you so”.

17 replies on “Rumour du Jour: Sharepoint set to take over world?”

Well done Jan, you will save everyone tons of money and make life so much simpler by being the pioneer for Sharepoint, great job

Perhaps it was inevitable that Sharepoint would take market share from iManage eventually but iManage haven't done themselves any favours by ignoring the concerns of some of their biggest clients. They've had almost no competition for years so maybe they got a little lazy. In any case it is a positive change for law firms to now have a real choice of DM software once again.

When more than one of the top 100 firms [not number 101] actually does it and goes live across all offices and staff — LS is not by the way — then we have something to talk about and then the vendors all have something to start worrying about. No doubt it will happen over time and it will be great — but let's not get ahead of ourselves. If you are in the Top 100 then you are a brave CIO to take a swap out proposal to the board this year or next. And nobody can say that Microsoft are lazy in law as a vendor right?

Save lots of money? You might want to check the facts on that one – the cost of 3 years development on top of Sharepoint licences is not even competitive with Opentext let alone a saving. There is a bit of an 'emperors new clothes' phemomenon going on around SharePoint as a DMS at the moment – without defining the perameters of a DMS who is to say we are not comparing Jans pear (mighty fine as it may be) to an Apple. It can just as easily be claimed that Outlook is a great CRM system. The truth is that SharePoint has the potential to be a great platform for document management but it will only become so when a third party creates a viable solution using SharePoint technology as a toolkit. Evryone knows Word can compare documents but no lawfirm would spend time and resource on creating their own comparison tool so third parties produce best of breed solutions that are highly integrated and compliment Word. If even in 2010 Microsoft haven't bothered to take comparison to a legal industry standard why on earth would we expect them to develop SharePoint into a DMS? Any 'home grown' solution is likely to be low on functionality, high on maintenance and have short term sustainability. Law firms do not have extensive R&D teams or budgets. Currently Opentext are the only serious players and although as the article states the big boys are starting to look at Sharepoint, they are nearly all looking for someone like Opentext to provide a solution that will cut it in legal and survive Microsoft upgrades.

Why would Microsoft “take comparison to a legal industry standard” when legal represents 0.1% of their customer base and the vast majority of that base already uses third party comparison software? They would not be able to charge any extra for office but it would cost them a lot to develop.

Doh! That's the point he/she is making! The 'why would microsoft' argument equally applies to DM as it does comparison with comparison being nothing to their vast resources. If in any doubt ask the firms who invested in Microsoft CRM (if there are any)

just a minor point but having just looked on the Autonomy web site it appears that iManage is already Windows 7 compatible. Still facts should not stand in the way of a good rumour…

SharePoint indeed has the potential to be a great platform for document management – it has had that potential for almost a decade now (or at least since SharePoint 2003).
But what is SharePoint exactly? A platform, a framework, a set of tools? Out-of-the-box functionality seems impressive but any user will soon discover that it just does not work that well. To get it working well, you have to spend a considerable amount of effort (and money) and extend/build-on-top-of SharePoint to actually make it into anything workable (especially as a DMS). So then SharePoint is treated as a framework. But a very costly and difficult one.
If you are going to spend that amount of money than it would be better to spend it on a proven DMS (e.g. iManage Worksite). If you want perfection and are willing to have something custom-developed than please do not use SharePoint. There are plenty of better frameworks available – some open-source (and thus mostly free). At least then you do not have pay for a major framework update (SharePoint 2010, 2013, etc.), you do not need a bunch of related Microsoft product (MS Windows Server, MS SQL, etc.).
So please, someone explain to me what the use-case for SharePoint is? You can build really nice things on it? But you can just as well build that on something else and end up with more flexibility, a better system and lower costs.

Well, the only people who need that level of document comparison are lawyers. However many other market segments use Document and Record Managment systems. So Microsoft would not bother will compare (legal only) and IF one was to think about the wider world than law firms, one would regard it as pretty obvious why Microsoft woudl want to bother with building a DMS out of Sharepoint. Autonomy are ignoring the issue, OpenText capitualted years ago, and ther are vendors out there dumb enough to think Microsoft will leave room for them in the DMS space, poor fools.

Where did you find the Windows 7 piece? The latest datasheet shows below as requirements for Filesite / Desksite:
System requirements
Intel Pentium processor
Microsoft Windows 95, Windows
Millennium, Windows NT 4.0, Windows
2000 or Windows XP
50MB of available hard-disk space

The most important thing is that LexisNexis for Microsoft works with Word, Outlook AND Sharepoint, so the entire LN research suite is available directly integrated with everyday applications,

Does any of that LN Sharepoint integration for content replicate the features of a DMS? If not, then it really isn't that much use in the context of this thread.

What is this law firm obsession with “bespoke” solutions, even in these cash strapped times? I do not understand it. Deliver cheap but effective out of the box solutions like SharePoint 2010 and Word's built-in comparison. They work.

This extract is from the Autonomy iManage customer support portal, from a document titled “WorkSite 8.5 Supported Platforms”. This document was published in November 2009.
WorkSite Clients
Common Environments
• Windows 7
• Windows Vista SP1*
• Windows Vista SP1 64-bit (32-bit mode)
• Windows XP Professional SP3*
Citrix Presentation Enterprise Server

And in reply to an earlier post about “who would use Word's document comparision functionality”, well that would be Clifford Chance then. They presented on how they are using Word 2010 features instead of comparision software at the last Tikit Word Excellence day, but then I guess most of the Alliance Rebels who post here didn't go near the Stormtrooper gathering.

Well the force is clearly with them – using Word 2010 compare before the product is even launched. Perhaps that is the magic in magic circle.

Clifford Chance is using Word 2007 comparison in lieu of third party comparison products.

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