CATEGORY: Enterprise Information Portals

REVIEWER: Tim Golden, desktop architect for McGuireWoods law firm.

BACKGROUND: McGuireWoods of Richmond, Virginia, is one of the largest law firms in the United States, with a staff of 1,500 people including 550 lawyers operating in 15 offices worldwide. McGuireWoods employees deal in all aspects of civil law practice including commercial litigation, corporate services, financial services, labor and employment, real estate and environmental, and taxation and employee benefits. McGuireWoods serves public, private, government and nonprofit clients in many industries including automotive, banking, energy resources, manufacturing, healthcare, insurance and telecommunications. The firm's internal knowledge sources are a primary competitive edge, making it essential that all lawyers and employees, regardless of their location, have fast and reliable access to all content contained in the firm's collective corporate knowledge repositories. Lawyers and staff require seamless, instant access to the most current information to best serve clients.

PLATFORMS: McGuireWoods runs a Windows NT 4.0 operating system on its back end, while the client side currently uses Windows 95 and is phasing in Windows 2000.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In the past, McGuireWoods' staff and lawyers needed to log on to multiple locations to access diverse resources such as the firm's intranet, the Internet and time and billing applications. Each of these applications had a different user interface and password, further complicating matters. By deploying Hummingbird EIP, McGuireWoods will now be able to provide employees with a single point of access to information stored across the enterprise. Hummingbird EIP will serve as a portal allowing single- point, seamless and cost-effective access to existing resources such as document management, accounting and e-mail systems ­ anytime and anywhere. The firm's evaluation indicated that Hummingbird's portal was the best solution for this type of access.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Hummingbird EIP integrates effectively, not just with McGuire-Woods' accounting, management and e-mail systems, but also with other Hummingbird products the law firm has in place. These include Hummingbird DOCS Open advanced document management system, Hummingbird Fulcrum KnowledgeServer robust searching and categorization technology and Hummingbird CyberDOCS Web-based document management solution. Collectively, these Hummingbird products facilitate day-to-day research and information sharing by lawyers and other employees. Searches are conducted across Hummingbird DOCS Open document management repositories, the Exchange e- mail system, custom databases and various Web sites. The integration of Hummingbird Fulcrum KnowledgeServer within Hummingbird EIP allows the firm to define parameters for unified searches across multiple Web sites, the document management system, e-mail, public folders, Lotus Notes databases and SQL databases.

STRENGTHS: A key strength is strong integration with our current document management system, Hummingbird DOCS Open, Hummingbird Fulcrum KnowledgeServer and Hummingbird CyberDOCS. Another strength is that Hummingbird EIP is scalable and flexible enough to accommodate information growth and our adoption of new applications.

WEAKNESSES: While Hummingbird EIP integrates effectively with back-end and other applications, more work needs to be done at the user interface level. We are currently customizing one of the out-of-the-box user interface templates Hummingbird has provided to create our own.

SELECTION CRITERIA: During a yearlong search for a portal solution, McGuireWoods sought two key features ­ a back-end searching or indexing capability and portal functionality. We selected Hummingbird EIP because it offered both these capabilities and integrated so tightly with existing systems.

DELIVERABLES: Of all the products in its category, Hummingbird EIP delivers the best available integration with back-end systems.

VENDOR SUPPORT: McGuireWoods has been in close and frequent contact with Hummingbird, which has been responsive to the firm's requirements. Because the product is relatively new, there have been a few bugs to iron out. Overall, we are pleased with the support Hummingbird has provided.

DOCUMENTATION: The administrative-side documentation is adequate. The developer's guide provided a starting point. Additional documentation materials provided by Hummingbird's professional services consultants meet all our requirements and will allow us to accomplish our goals.

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