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Sword and Lewis Silkin ally to push Sharepoint DMS solution – updated

Systems integrator the Sword Group has entered into a collaborative agreement with Lewis Silkin LLP to acquire the IP to the firm’s document management application, which has been developed on the Microsoft Sharepoint platform. The acquired application will be re-engineered, enhanced and baselined by Sword for the purposes of creating a commercial offering. This will be owned, supported and taken to market by Sword, with the first release scheduled for early Q3 2010. The application, with the working title of Excalibur, will be targeted at law firms and inhouse corporate legal departments.
“Lewis Silkin has invested two years in developing this application. Built by lawyers for lawyers, it is now the right time to partner with an experienced systems Integrator in the legal sector, to take Excalibur to the next phase and productise the solution offering” said Lewis Silkin IT director Jan Durant. “We are proud of what has been achieved with Excalibur, and have selected Sword to drive the next phase of evolution and bring the solution to market because of their proven track record both with Microsoft Sharepoint and for their reputation for getting things done.”

John Higgins, head of Sword’s ECM business unit said “This presents a great opportunity. Taking Lewis Silkin’s domain experience plus the innovative and expandable Sharepoint platform, Excalibur makes an attractive alternative to the legacy and incumbent document management systems in the legal market.”

For further details call Terry Coyne on 0208 232 2562 or 07768 545931 or email

14 replies on “Sword and Lewis Silkin ally to push Sharepoint DMS solution – updated”

Wow Jan, you really achieved a lot here, to go against the flow is brave, developing in house is painful, but the proof is a product commercially viable to the market at large, and Sword would not be interested if it wasn't, well done….

True, but REALLY: “productise the solution offering”?!?

Maybe their next project will be to develop a 'grammar checker' that can speak English?

Sorry, this story, like swords is hard to swallow….didn't excalibur end up being chucked away into a lake?

No, the Lady of the Lake – in this case Jan Durant clad in white samite – handed over Excalibur for the benefit of King Arthur (the Swords man) to smite the heathen foe (Open Text and Autonomy)

Wish them all the best in their efforts, and certainly a simplified DMS solution that provides the functionality most firms use without all the bells and whistles that are these days approaching bloatware is welcome.
Having seen quite a number of firms try to market their own product though, they'll be breaking the mould if they can actually achieve any level of success.
Consider all the actual legal software vendors who are constantly shredded on this site because they're not perfect – and they sell software for a living!

This may actually be too little, too late. Will be interesting to see if this will really have the legs commercially – particularly given that similar types of products on the MS SharePoint platform are racing ahead successfully both inside professional services and in other industries (e.g. DMF Professional from WISDOM – sold in the UK by ClearPeople).

We have been using the MacroView DMF add-on (this is the one that was previously known as WISDOM DMF) for over a year now and so far so good. It was provided as part of a larger SharePoint DM project by the same ClearPeople guys mentioned above.
Compared to the sword solution I guess this one has a more wide industry appeal – but with add-ons serving specific (industry) requirements. E.g. a client/matter centric profiling add-on. A unique doc number feature. We use both of these as well as a “secure document” feature, to allow our users to lock down individual documents. And it's been around since SP2003 so naturally more battle tested.
Anyway – good luck to sword. Will be interesting to see what that solution actually provides.

Time will tell whether those Sword people are a sharp bunch or if The Lady of the Lake was pushed into falling on the Sword by her Partners and the spiralling costs & time delays…..

In house legal applications developed using application toolkits rarely make good saleable commercial ip. Sword will have to be pretty sharp to pare out the built in working practices into optional configuration parameters whilst introducing other features for other potential legal customers. I think the classic mistake will be in the assumed consistency of working practice within the legal market place and as we all know there is nothing like consistency.

The other question is one of scaleability. Lewis Silkin are a pretty small shop; how does such a solution scale up to work across larger single or multi-office sites? And is this for legal content only? What about non-matter documents? How have they got around the problem of allocating unique document IDs for all content (something I believe SharePoint struggles to do in line with the standard document ID paradigm used by law firms).
Is there a Business Intelligence piece to this? The concept of DM as a stand-alone app is becoming out-moded and replaced by concepts that include providing access to all content (emails, documents, tasks, financials, etc) organised either by role, matter, client, group or a combination of the above. How well does SharePoint support this kind of model?
It will be interesting to see where this goes; no doubt Sword will be providing demos as soon as they have a product to show, but Q3 2010 seems optimistic.

And lets not forget that along with Sword/Excalibur we also have other Sharepoint-based DMS product + the new Aderant StarLaw offering all providing alternatives to Autonomy and Open Text – CC

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