Using SharePoint as an Enterprise DMS in Your Practice


Using SharePoint as an Enterprise DMS in Your Practice

After reading Jeffrey Brandt’s comments in the PinHawk LTD newsletter last week regarding the shortfalls of SharePoint’s document management capabilities emphasized in Law Technology News, I wanted to offer another perspective. Not because his comments were inaccurate, but because they were incomplete.  It is true that using SharePoint’s out-of-the-box document management features will not meet the needs of all but the smallest of law firms.

SharePoint’s primary role is a content management and collaboration platform and was not designed to accommodate the volume of documents with which law firms typically contend.  It was never engineered to be an enterprise Document Management System (DMS).

With that said, there are third party products like MacroView DMF that have been used successfully within respectable sized law firms to make document management work with SharePoint.  A more common approach, however, is to use an industrial strength DMS (e.g. NetDocuments, OpenText, etc) and integrate within SharePoint.  This provides the scalability of a dedicated DMS and the ability to create client/matter specific views into time and billing, case management data and relevant documents/emails in one portal.

(I’ll be at the SharePoint Symposium June 10-11 and can provide a demo of what an integration looks like between SharePoint and NetDocs. Stop by our table if you’re interested.)

According to ILTA’s 2013 Technology Survey, less than 1% of firms surveyed use SharePoint natively as a DMS.  Much more common use cases include: leveraging the platform for collaboration, custom applications, project management, custom workflows and intranet usage; the fact is that SharePoint supports these functions really well.  Focusing on SharePoint’s native DM capabilities isn’t all that useful considering that is not how firms generally use the platform as seen from the graphic below.

So while it’s fine to point out SharePoint’s shortcomings as an enterprise DMS, I think it also needs to be pointed that it was never engineered to bridge that gap.

What was your perception? Does this surprise you? How does your law firm use SharePoint? 

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