Guest article by Steve Swaney, Director of Information Technology, Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP

Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP is nationally recognized for its work focused on legal issues facing the construction industry. Based in Atlanta, we have eight offices throughout the United States. As Director of Information Technology, I was recently involved in Smith Currie’s decision to convert to the Worldox Document Management System (DMS), from Autonomy’s iManage system.

Three horse race ?

Over time, we had grown dissatisfied with the technical and customer support we were receiving from Autonomy, so we started considering other options. We looked at several vendors, including the incumbent Autonomy, Worldox and NetDocuments, which is a web-based DMS. Of the three, we kept hearing positive feedback about Worldox from World Software Corporation, so we were keen to investigate that one further.

If we were going to stay with Autonomy iManage, we knew were going to need to upgrade our server hardware significantly, due to the requirements of the software. We did not want to do this because of its complexity and expense. Regarding NetDocuments, we had concerns specifically about bandwidth and third-party integration between its cloud-based DMS and our other desktop applications. For a number of reasons, it was clear that cloud products like NetDocuments were not right for us.

In reviewing our options, we saw that Worldox would be a powerful platform that would work just as well as Autonomy iManage for Smith Currie’s particular needs, and it would be easy to use and maintain. Worldox was rich in key features, such as email management and document security, and our early experience indicated that they provided the superior technical support we had been lacking in our experience with Autonomy iManage. And even with less expensive hardware requirements than Autonomy’s, it could also be scaled up to support all eight of our offices.

After vetting Worldox within our IT department, we approached the firm’s technology committee and presented them with an overview of the program and the case for buying it. Everyone ultimately agreed that Worldox was the best choice, and we moved forward to purchase it in November 2010.

Following our decision to convert to Worldox, we were ready to move forward immediately because we had already carried out an Exchange upgrade. We were able to repurpose our existing server as the Worldox indexer, because it did not require a new, high-powered server. We started upgrade testing just a few weeks after that. Then, after installing and implementing a pilot program in mid-January 2011, we began conducting training. One week before converting the Atlanta office, our largest location, we trained everyone on the software. The staff training was completed in one week. The conversion from iManage to Worldox was done over a single weekend, handled expertly by my team in collaboration with Rob Nagy, World Software’s professional services manager, and Worldox Systems integrator David Moon of Lan-Tech Inc.

After a seamless installation and document migration, we noticed several improvements immediately. One of these was the file organization. With iManage, the staff members had been saving documents in folders according to who authored the document. This caused problems because if lawyers or staff left the firm, their documents were still stored under their names which over time it was hard to find documents properly. Worldox’s Workspaces feature enabled our users  to arrange documents according to client and matter, while the underlying folder structure was still organized by author, so we had the best of both worlds.

Another improvement was Worldox’s email management system, which has been enormously helpful. Since some of our users save massive amounts of emails, so we needed an efficient way to manage them. About one-quarter of the staff is now taking advantage of the email management feature and finds it very useful, and we anticipate more people adopting it in the near future.

Set it and forget it

Concerning setup, each office has its own repository, and the staff is taking advantage of the document sharing features Worldox affords. All offices are interconnected, allowing staff to see other users’ files and even edit them, using version control to preserve previous renditions of the document. Version control is especially popular with our lawyers and staff. Worldox allows us to “set it and forget it” and doesn’t require a lot of administration behind the scenes. Moreover, Worldox is simple without being scaled down, and it is versatile and feature-rich.

In addition to all the features we gained by converting to Worldox, we also solved our initial problem of technical support. Worldox customer support is positive, responsive and knowledgeable. Our phone calls and emails are returned promptly, and each member of their staff knows the software inside and out. In every respect, Worldox has provided the answers to our challenges and has made our firm more productive on a daily basis.