Law Technology News
January 14, 2013
1. January 18, 2013 03:29 PM
William, while it is good to step back and review if IT systems are delivering on their initial promise I would take exception to your statement that SharePoint has never really lived up to the hype. While it is true that many organizations jump into SharePoint and never move beyond using it as a document management store, we have worked with many clients that have realized significant success in leveraging SharePoint as an intranet, a collaboration and information management environment and as an extranet connecting to partners, vendors and others outside their organization. Additionally a number of our clients have embraced the platform to deliver business solutions across their organizations, leveraging excel services, access services, business connectivity services etc.
While I agree with you that the hard costs of implementing an on-premise SharePoint environment following best practices can be significant for some organizations, there are alternatives. As others have noted Microsoft have increased the cost of SharePoint 2013 server licenses as well as the cost of CALs but they have also added additional features and functionality including FAST Search and Yammer integration. Also for those organizations considering leveraging SharePoint for external facing web sites there is no longer any license requirement for external users. It is possible to deploy and configure on-premise SharePoint in smaller organizations without breaking the bank and with Microsoft's Office 365 being particularly disruptive in the market place those open to leveraging cloud solutions can achieve significant ROI.
From my experience new users of SharePoint have found few problems working with the system as, out of the box, it follows the Microsoft Office paradigm; so in this sense it actually makes adoption easier than some other systems. And there are third party solutions that can assist with user adoption by leveraging integration with familiar Office tools such as Outlook.
SharePoint is a rich and feature rich environment and as a result can be complex to manage and work with. As with other serious line of business applications, organizations that do not approach implementation in a sensible and considered manner will not realize the most from their investment. Part of this approach should be the use of resources with sufficient experience of working with SharePoint to be able to analyze the desired use cases and design the platform infrastructure appropriately.
But broad adoption and use of SharePoint also depends on the implementation of a solid governance approach along with an information architecture that supports the business and empowers users rather than inhibit them. Your comments on document storage are correct in that there should be a single point of storage but, I would argue that configured correctly SharePoint's document, records retention and information rights management features do combine to provide an enterprise DMS. As Michael points out SharePoint has the capability to deliver a right sized framework for attorneys to search across information and documents and real-time access to enterprise content and information in a single location
We have worked with several law firms where SharePoint has replaced outdated practice management systems or where SharePoint has been used in a focused manner to add value to existing systems. By bringing significant experience of SharePoint at a technical level together with a philosophy of understanding the nuances within an organizations processes we have found great success with our clients in leveraging SharePoint to deliver compelling business solutions.
I strongly believe that with the correct partner (internal IT or external consultant) that businesses can leverage SharePoint successfully.
— Eric Byrd
2. January 18, 2013 07:57 AM
Thanks Bill for stating what I've always felt. Sharepoint is a huge waste of time and money in comparison to other initiatives Legal IT should be doing. I've put Sharepoint in the same bucket as CRM. I've yet to see a Sharepoint implementation wow me but yet money continues to be thrown at it. I don't agree that just because the herd of firms have flocked to it means anything. I think there are many challenges to a successful long term sharepoint implementation.
3. January 17, 2013 09:05 AM
Which DMS vendors offer the requisite extranets, intranets, and security? It's a common perception that SharePoint is currently the best product available for these functionalities.
— Helen Kathryn Downs
4. January 14, 2013 10:00 PM
Microsoft has in fact increased the price of SharePoint as noted in another post. However in the SharePoint 2013 release, the FAST Enterprise Search engine has been embedded within SharePoint Server. So a separate FAST license is no longer required.
5. January 14, 2013 03:37 PM
It is always refreshing to see some reflection and criticism of SharePoint, taking that "step back" to question whether it is truly providing benefit to your organization. In my experience there is a lot of frustration with the platform and as your article highlights, there are certainly concerns with propagating documents to other locations and creating information governance/management challenges therein. Having dealt a lot with SharePoint I have suffered many a headache where the promise has not always lived up to the reality.
But from an organizational perspective, I do want to point out that it isn't just about documents anymore. Just as the web has evolved to provide real-time data feeds, social interaction tools, collaboration spaces that can house events, reminders, workflows, and more, the business world has adopted the same. I have seen many law firms establish portals that provide very rich information that attorneys absolutely rely on for their practice. This can encompass billing information, matter management tools, practice group sites to promote initiatives, even video guides/tutorials. Some take it even further. It so happens that SharePoint is often the platform employed, even when data is pulled from other systems. The underlying objective is to serves as a gateway platform for enterprise content; a single-source for information. I have seen some incredible examples using SharePoint.
I am left wondering about the other games in town. I've seen a few things out there, but in terms of the scale, support, integration points with other systems, future of the product, capabilities beyond documents/fileshare, many firms have decided to go with SharePoint. Nevertheless, if anyone has some real world experiences with truly great alternatives, I'd certainly welcome the opportunity to learn more.
— Michael Nogroski