Law firms that are considering purchasing a portal product should read the November 3, 2003 issue of eWeek magazine for its review of the leading portal products (ATG, BEA WebLogic, Computer Associates CleverPath, IBM WebSphere, Microsoft SharePoint, Plumtree, Sybase Enterprise Portal, and Vignette). This issue updates a prior review and focuses mainly on WebSphere and SharePoint (reviewing both favorably). Not reviewed in this issue but of interest in the legal market is the “vertical market” portal product, LawPort by SV Technology.
Any firm that is thinking about a portal should make sure also to consider its knowledge management strategy and how the portal fits with it (or how KM fits with the portal). Portals are excellent enabling technologies and can serve as a platform for KM, but standing alone, do not constitute KM products. Portals present simple interfaces to numerous systems and allow integrating content from multiple sources.
But these features alone do not enable KM. Firms still need a way to capture useful documents and provide contextual information about them. Separate processes and/or software may also be required for expertise location. The firms that have attained success with portals typically have invested significant time and resources to customize the software, integrate disparate systems, and collect and catalog content.
While this may be obvious, I have been struck by anecdotes over the last couple of years of law firms that have portals and still struggle with content management and KM issues. The bad news is that KM requires more than just portals. The good news is that a portal can be a very important part of a KM strategy. [Strategic Legal Technology]