REVIEWER: Ivaylo Nikolov, director of IT at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP.

BACKGROUND: Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP (Davies) is a business law firm serving clients in Canada and internationally. It has offices in Toronto, Montreal and New York, and its clients include large corporations, financial institutions, governments, regulatory bodies and international agencies.

PLATFORMS: The Recommind Decisiv Email server runs on the Windows Server platform. The desktop client integrates with Microsoft Outlook for Windows.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Email management is a constant challenge for a firm of Davies’s size and scope. We receive and send a tremendous amount of email. We need a way to archive those messages safely and efficiently, while making them easily accessible for our staff’s daily work. In theory, that is what document management systems are for. But in our experience, DMSs are not well-suited to email. They’re fine for spreadsheets and presentations, but they were never designed to manage millions of short, threaded documents. We had little success convincing our staff to file email by hand in a DMS. The sheer number of messages made the task impractical. It didn’t help that when staff did file email, they had trouble finding it later, thanks to the bare-bones built-in search. We needed a solution that could provide 1) effective categorization and filing of email correspondence, 2) economical storage of email-based information, and 3) a common interface designed to simplify email retrieval. We found it in Decisiv Email Management.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Decisiv Email client is a plug-in that runs inside Microsoft Outlook. Each user accesses the same unified folder architecture defined by the IT department. Whenever someone writes or receives an email, Decisiv Email’s Predictiv Filing technology automatically pops up suggested folders based on the user’s previous decisions and the content of the email. Tagging and filing is as simple as checking a box, and Recommind’s advanced search technology makes retrieval practically effortless. Perhaps most important, only one user ever needs to file a given email. After that, Decisiv Email automatically files the message in the same place for everyone else. Because Decisiv Email makes filing so easy, our staff now files vastly more email than before. Within the first six months, 300 users in our Toronto office filed 400,000 messages. Our teams now have much more information at their fingertips, and the data is readily available if we need it for litigation or compliance.

STRENGTHS: Decisiv Email’s most obvious strength is Predictiv Filing. It’s the most effective technology we’ve seen for easing the burden of email organization. Recommind’s search is another draw. Decisiv Email uses the same search technology that powers in its enterprise search product, Decisiv Search. The difference between that and the search you get in traditional CMS products is night and day. In addition, Decisiv Email’s single-instance database has sharply reduced our storage costs. Unlike other email management systems, Decisiv Email deduplicates not just messages, but individual objects. For instance, a company logo that appears in thousands of messages would only be stored once.

WEAKNESSES: When we tested Decisiv Email, its main weakness was its lack of mobile functionality. Attorneys often work from their phones, and until recently, Decisiv Email didn’t offer any way to file messages outside Outlook. The latest version integrates with email on mobile devices, so we’re optimistic the problem has been solved.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Very simply, Decisiv Email was the only product we found that satisfied all our criteria.

DELIVERABLES: Decisiv Email’s end product is a well designed, highly organized, easily searchable email repository that has made it easier for our staff to collaborate and to bring new team members up to speed.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The vendor support is great. Recommind is quick to respond to any issues or concerns we might have. They are also very receptive of suggestions and feature requests, which make it into the product without delay.           

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is excellent, but we found Decisiv Email so intuitive, most of our staff was able to use it with minimal instruction. Two group trainings, a two-page cheat sheet and occasional 15-minute one-on-ones were enough to get a 300-person office up and running.

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