Law firm eyes file systems

Simpson Grierson is taking a long, hard look at current provider FileNet's new product offering, FileNet P8.

Simpson Grierson is taking a long, hard look at current provider FileNet’s new product offering, FileNet P8.

The law firm is evaluating FileNet and competing product iManage for a document management system that will replace its existing system, which was originally developed by Saros, a company which no longer exists. The product, which Simpson Grierson has used since 1994, was taken over by FileNet in 1996.

Simpson Grierson IS manager Valerie Fogg says the main issue is that a new interface is needed but FileNet interfaces are considered too generic for the law firm.

FileNet is a document, content, image and business process management system and it’s fairly generic, she says.

“They’re not targeting any one industry and they’ve purposely done it that way. Whereas iManage has been specifically designed for law firms.”

Fogg says in terms of capability, FileNet and iManage are both highly functional.

“Systems just aren’t that simple any more. We’re trying to understand which will meet out business requirements better and whether where they’re going with their products is where we’re going.”

Fogg says the firm wants to do much more collaboration with clients.

“Document management systems let us collaborate internally but external collaboration is quite a different thing. Even collaboration means different things to different people.”

FileNet, whose latest release is a framework, is touting its business process management capabilities as a factor that will differentiate it from other content management offerings. Gartner research director Mark Gilbert says integration of content management systems with other enterprise applications and processes will be a key customer requirement in 2003 because important content often lives in these other applications.

Fogg agrees with that sentiment. However, she is sceptical that FileNet P8’s business process management functionality — which the vendor says would exploit the content in mission-critical applications — would be complicated to implement and maintain. “It would be useful but I wonder how difficult it would be to use.”

Fogg says she can see some useful synergies between the content management and web content management systems but the firm doesn’t have much need for image management.

Land Information NZ is also looking for a document management system to replace its TRIM system. LINZ IT architect Graeme Davies says FileNet will be a contender given that LINZ uses FileNet for image retrieval.

The project is part of an overarching knowledge management review.

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