Is SharePoint the New Definition of ECM in Legal?

Until recently, the content management software marketplace was fragmented. Many vendors, industry analysts, and buyers insisted that their viewpoints about the future of ECM made the most sense. But despite nearly continuous investment in the technology, most firms’ implementations ranged from ‘tolerable’ to ‘miserable’ – and end-users revolted accordingly. What has become apparent is that various forces have shaped the new definitions of ECM – and that the prospects for better-managed information, improved availability, enhanced collaboration, and successful implementations (by any measure) have never been better. Like any story, there isn’t one hero. But there’s a new end-user focused ecosystem of apps that both supplement SharePoint and are shaping the future of ECM in Legal. One business outcome of successfully understanding and leveraging the extended ecosystem is what we call ‘Content Confidence’.

Like any self-respecting Gold ISV Partner of Microsoft’s, SharePoint has become part of our continuing dialogue with customers, employees, and prospects. And – as each vendor with tight integration and a strong value proposition has come to do – we frame our discussion about the synergies carefully to both recognize the benefits of SharePoint and distinguish our offerings objectively. Herewith, our Top 5 SharePoint gaps and how the products we’ve developed can deliver professional productivity and reduce risk – thus, content confidence:

1.  SharePoint doesn’t effectively raise the bar for collaborative authoring, despite having synchronous editing

Litéra is the only software company with patented technology that allows users to harness a truly open collaboration environment: within IDS, multiple users can share input on a single live document and retain the history of all edits and comments – even after the final document is completed. With Litéra IDS, users no longer have to review multiple redlined versions of shared input to create one, global document. Instead, Litéra IDS incorporates all feedback into one document, open for collective view in real time. Firms can improve accuracy, openness and productivity with robust and powerful software that integrates fully with Microsoft SharePoint, Word, and legacy document management systems.

2.  SharePoint has caused many enterprises to consolidate content, but doesn’t provide detailed comparison tools for office files of every type. Search tools cannot handle granular comparison

Today’s documents are no longer just text and tables; instead, they include a wide array of embedded objects and images, including Excel, Visio, ChemDraw/SmartDraw objects, and imported jpg, gif, tiff, bmp and png images. Though Microsoft has added some comparison functionality, it doesn’t provide easy to use, detailed, patented, third-generation comparison technology. Litéra Change-Pro is the only product on the market that can compare documents on a granular level. And, fast and effective comparisons of multiple versions of a Word document or between Word, PDF, and TIFF (faxed) documents are essential in Legal.

3. SharePoint doesn’t easily support document governance at the file level – metadata cleansing, reporting, and administration – when mobility and file sharing demand it more and more

As more people use mobile devices to access and share files, firms will want tighter controls. Litéra Metadact-e is a server-based metadata cleaning solution that includes mechanisms for central policy management and a patented unified platform for mail gateway including webmail and smart phone attachments. This user-friendly utility provides a mechanism to analyze and clean documents before they are distributed.    Metadact-e integrates with multiple e-mail systems, and protects Firm and client confidential information.

4. SharePoint doesn’t manage other file types efficiently nor does it help make conversions easy 

File sharing in email and unsecured Internet repositories has become common – and secure transfers of information demand formats beyond Microsoft’s own. Yet to quickly convert, for example, a PowerPoint file to a PDF for sharing with outsiders isn’t easy because the controls over metadata, notes, etc. are obscure. And, opening or converting PDFs is also difficult, especially for batch conversions or multiple file binding. The Litéra PDF Suite offers the capacity to manage many of the core aspects of PDF documents, including extract PDF to Word with the optional Litéra OCR Server (powered by ABBYY).

5. SharePoint isn’t the most effective tool for handling large numbers of templates, and migrations from earlier versions made things worse

Litéra Innova is a document automation platform that streamlines and standardizes document creation and automation utilizing custom and pre-prepared templates. Create and manage letter, memo, fax, Certificate of Service, Pleading and custom templates easily. Develop firmwide styles and settings with no programming required. Organize templates by user, security group and/or office location. Innova allows users to insert contact information from Outlook, CRM, or document management applications into new documents, existing documents or templates. Each template includes bookmarks that identify locations in a document where contact information can be inserted, and easy to use dialogs provide a quick way to define details for automatic generation of documents.

What else would you like to see added to the ECM ecosystem (whether to bridge the gap between office and professional productivity or something else); and do you think SharePoint and its apps ecosystem is becoming synonymous with ECM in your Firm?

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About Toby Bell

Toby has over 25 years of leadership experience in technology strategy, analysis, development, and delivery. He's managed people, products, projects, and profits equally well. His work history ranges from marketing and communications to software design and development to global consulting to technology research and analysis to business leadership. He has provided strategic advice to many companies; has written a strong body of research; is widely quoted across technology and business media; and has been a keynote speaker for Ernst & Young, Arthur Andersen, Gartner, and their clients. Toby's role at IBM as ECM Marketing and Offering Strategy Lead is new. Toby spent three years learning the enterprise software business from a vendor's perspective at Litéra. This included creating partner alliances with top technology vendors, leading both a marketing and product development team, and building business from major accounts. Prior to Litéra, he was Research VP for Gartner, the leading provider of global research and analysis on the information technology industry. He covered (beyond ECM, BPM, Case Management, and Cool Vendors): enterprise reputation management, social media monitoring, digital asset management, Web content management, web and content analytics, globalization/localization, translation management, and customer communications management. Some of his experience in digital marketing initiatives came from previous work at Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young. Prior to joining Gartner, Toby was a Senior Manager and Director for Andersen. He focused on technology consulting, research, applications development, and legal practice management for this Big 5 global professional services firm. Prior to that, Toby was a Manager at Ernst & Young -- focused primarily on business development, competitive intelligence, marketing technology, knowledge management, and process improvement applications design, development, and consulting.
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