CATEGORY: Enterprise Portal

REVIEWER: Keith Berkland, application development manager for Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky LLP.

BACKGROUND: With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York, Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky LLP is a multiservice law firm recognized as having one of the world's largest insurance coverage litigation practices. Founded in 1953, the firm has more than 270 attorneys practicing general business and litigation law and 320 support staff in areas ranging from IT to human resources. The firm's clients include Wall Street investment houses, national banks, healthcare providers, start-up ventures and multinational corporations.

PLATFORMS: The Hummingbird Enterprise Information Portal (EIP) Legal Edition runs on Windows NT 4.0. Hardware consists of Compaq dual-processor servers and HP 9000s.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Having already implemented Hummingbird's Fulcrum Knowledge Server, which allows our users to conduct full text searching and categorization of 150,000 internal legal documents, Hummingbird EIP Legal Edition was a natural extension because it gives us a framework to access both internal and external information. This means that in addition to offering a single point of access to unstructured information from internal sources such as e-mails, legal memos, correspondence and deposition transcripts, the EIP will deliver customized external information from law-related news feeds, legal publications and other research materials. The goal is to make technology invisible to the users. They should not see the technology at all; all they want to see is a solution. Our users should be able to conduct a search and find needed data whether it lives in Lotus Notes, someplace in the document management space, out on the Web or somewhere in a Microsoft Exchange mailbox. Hummingbird EIP Legal Edition makes all that possible.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Hummingbird EIP Legal Edition ties all of our knowledge management (KM) and document management (DM) solutions together. Having a single interface for business solutions is really what it's all about. The strength of the solution is that it gives our users the ability to view information the way they want to view it and in context with the way they use it. Having the ability to receive anything from internal legal documents and correspondence to external articles and news feeds quickly and efficiently provides a true "law office on the go" environment.

STRENGTHS: Hummingbird EIP Legal Edition provides our users with the necessary tools to personalize information delivery depending on their particular area of legal expertise. A key reason we went with Hummingbird was the integration that it offers with the existing document stores and the contextual meta data that comes with it. Having that type of integration is really important to us. We've spent a lot of time building our intellectual property and having a transparent, powerful interface is critical. Hummingbird EIP Legal Edition has an innovative plug-in architecture known as e-Clip that provides the ability to integrate applications from third-party developers into an external knowledge store which our users can immediately access. It's really that simple.

WEAKNESSES: The only apparent weakness relates to workflow integration. Currently, part of that work needs to be performed by third-party vendors. It would be helpful if Hummingbird had its own workflow product to serve as the portal's collaboration building block; and, in fact, Hummingbird has indicated it will deliver this functionality as part of its integrated solutions in the near future.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We chose Hummingbird over two competing products because of our familiarity with the existing technology and confidence in their portal solution. We wanted the ability to access particular types of knowledge stores including Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange, file systems and Web-based systems directly from their native applications.

DELIVERABLES: It will integrate and fit well into our firm's culture and business model. Regardless of whether it's a junior associate or a partner, all attorneys will be able to customize their interface. Users can locate information they are looking for in a very quick fashion, and the accuracy in finding that information is wonderful.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Hummingbird has been very responsive to our needs during our work on such a huge project.

DOCUMENTATION: The online user documentation and the administration documentation are completely satisfactory. However, from a development standpoint, the documentation that I've seen regarding the API set and integration tools is inadequate.

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