Yesterday afternoon I had an hour at law firm Lewis Silkin in London. I met with Jan Durant and Carol Skinner for an demonstration of their document management system for SharePoint.
A few years ago they determined that their current document management system (Open Text DM 5) was not up-to-scratch, and decided they could do better by building their own in SharePoint 2007. It took them 3 years, with some problems during the development due to design limitations in SharePoint 2007 (2000 items per folder was a particular problem). Now in the year 2010, they have developed:
– A SharePoint-based document repository, targeted to the needs of their lawyers.
– Tight integration in Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2007 for creating and accessing documents, via a search pane.
– Tight integration in Office 2007 for document automation tasks.
– Integration in Outlook 2007 for the upload of documents into SharePoint.
– Integration in Outlook 2007 for saving new versions of documents received by email into the appropriate place in SharePoint.
– Full roll-out across the firm.
At a technology level, I was impressed. At a business engagement level, I was incredibly impressed. What Jan and Carol have created, in conjunction with in-house developers, is impressive, but what really stood out was their deep knowledge of how lawyers work, and an almost obsessive focus on getting it right – through discussions, experimentation, trying things out, seeking feedback and input from lawyers, working with people through the change process, and so on. This blog post is my standing ovation to Jan and Carol – tremendous work!
Late last year, Lewis Silkin sold the IP rights for their development work to Sword ECM, and Sword has been working on commercializing the offering and upgrading it for SharePoint 2010.