iManage Review – an Uptime Review for Law Firms

Our iManage Review for Law Firms and Legal Teams

At Uptime Legal Systems we help hundreds of law firms evaluate, select and implement software to help their practice run more efficiently. Many law firms recognize the importance of a good Document Management System (DMS) to keep their staff, their documents and their firm organized. Over the years many law firms have selected iManage to be their document management system. We’ve worked with many firms that use iManage, have used it and host it in our Private Cloud. This has given us an inside look at iManage, both from an under-the-hood perspective and from the perspective of our law firm clients. So: in this post we review iManage for law firms.

Looking for a Legal Document Management System?

LexWorkplace is born in the cloud, and built for law firms. Manage documents, email, matters and more with our award-winning legal DMS. Get in touch with our team to learn more.

Looking for a Legal Document Management System?

LexWorkplace was born in the cloud, and built for law firms. Manage documents, email, matters and more with our award-winning legal DMS. Get in touch with our team to learn more.

The Company

First, before we delve into our iManage review, just a little background about the company. Theirs is an interesting story with a lot of M&A in it. iManage was founded as an independent company in 1998.

  • In 2003, iManage was acquired by a company named Interwoven.
  • In 2009, Interwoven was acquired by another company named Autonomy.
  • In 2012, Autonomy was acquired by Hewlett-Packard.
  • Then, in 2015 the iManage product broke-out on its own, and became its own independent company once again. What a ride.

The entire story is an interesting one that includes legal battles, PR skirmishes and even the US Justice Department.

How did the iManage clients fare throughout this… um… journey? Our clients and followers share mixed stories with us: Some shared with us that with each acquisition, support was affected for the worse. Others shared with us they felt largely unaffected throughout the whole process. In any case, an independent iManage is probably a good thing (from the perspective of a customer.)

The Software

Next, let’s dive into the meat of our iManage review. iManage Work, as it’s called now (it used to be called iManage WorkSite), is iManage’s core product: Their document and email management software. While the legal industry is probably their biggest market, iManage is also made for and used by other industries including healthcare and financial services.

At its core, iManage is a system to store, organize and manage documents email and related content. You create top-level spaces called projects, each project can hold documents, emails, folders and so forth. Typically law firms will create a project for every matter in their firm. This becomes the basis for your iManage software: On the left-hand side of your iManage window you’ll see each project, or matter. From there you can drill into a matter to store, find, open or edit the document or resource you plan to work on.

Document Management

Once documents are stored within the iManage Database your firm will have a number of tools at its disposal to manage them. iManage comes with the trappings you’d expect in a Document Management System. While I won’t cover every feature and function in this iManage review, the core feature set includes:

  • Document Version Management
  • Document Check-Out / Check-In
  • Scanner Integration
  • Microsoft Office Integration
  • Index / Search
  • Security, Permissions and User/Group Framework
  • Document Tagging and Profiling
  • Document Change Alerts

If your firm is currently using a basic file server, shared network drive or basic cloud storage service (like DropBox or OneDrive), you’ll find these features to be an incredibly powerful and useful way to manage documents, keep them organized, categorized and searchable. Once you’ve stored a document in iManage you can apply a number of properties and metadata to it, including client, author, matter, document type and more.

Also noteworthy: Integrated OCR is available for iManage, which automatically converts scanned documents (namely PDF files) to text-enabled documents, which means they’ll be indexed and searchable. This, however, is an additional option/component the law firm must purchase.

Related: Paperless Law Office – Implementing OCR

Email Management

iManage Work also doubles as an Email Management System. It integrates with Outlook to allow users to save matter-related (or any) email to a project in iManage. This can be done manually, or automatically with iManage’ s predictive email management; with the latter: Emails you receive will be automatically filed to the appropriate matter based on the data within the email.

Mobile

iManage Work also as mobile app, called iManage Work Mobility. The Mobility app, available for iOS, gives users some access to documents and email from their smartphone. This offers attorneys an alternative to having to lug around a laptop everywhere they go. Note that as of the writing of this iManage review, iManage Work Mobility is not available for Android or other mobile operating systems.

Under the Hood

In our iManage review, we should also take a peek under the hood. iManage runs on top of Microsoft SQL Server, the database engine that makes everything work. All of the version information, metadata, profiling, tags that you associate with documents in email in iManage is stored within SQL database tables inside of SQL server.

iManage Work is powerful. It does a lot, and it can do a lot quickly. This does, however, require a significant server infrastructure to run. The database server, indexing and iManage server software all require a lot of horsepower to run effectively. You may be thinking: “My law firm already had a server, so I’m good to go.”

Probably not. In almost every case, law firms we worked or spoke with prior to moving to iManage to had to make significant investments into new server infrastructure to support the software.

Implementation

Finally, I’d be remiss if in my iManage review I didn’t talk about implementation. The power of iManage comes with a lot of technical complexity. Unlike more basic software, you won’t be able to simply install it on your computers and up and running. In fact: Chances are, even your IT guy/consultant/firm won’t know how to implement it (even assuming he’s an otherwise perfectly competent IT professional). Installing iManage to your servers and computers, then implementing it into your firm is a very nuanced, specialized skillset. As a result, you’ll have to find an iManage reseller or authorized consultant to implement iManage for the first time.

On-Premise, iManage Cloud or Private Cloud

Finally, in our iManage review, we’ll cover the different implementations for iManage. With iManage you can deploy it on-premise, host it with iManage themselves via their cloud offering or host it in a third-party private cloud provider.

On-Premise

On-Premise is what iManage was developed for: You buy the software, buy the server infrastructure to run it and host the software on your own network. This, in our experience, is the least attractive option as it comes with significant time and monetary investment.

iManage Cloud

Recently iManage announced their own cloud offering: Where they will provide the iManage software and hosting for a set monthly fee. This is in contrast to buying, managing and dealing with servers yourself.

Private Cloud

Finally, you can buy the iManage Work software outright, like the on-premise model, but instead host it within a Private Cloud service such as Uptime Practice. Typically private cloud services will host iManage and the rest of the software your law firm uses (after all: iManage likely isn’t the only application your law firm depends on.) In some cases the Private Cloud will include other application hosting, Microsoft Office software, email services and IT support: Everything a law firm needs to eliminate servers (and the IT headaches their known for producing) across the board.

The Bottom Line

Alright, so in our iManage review we’ve covered the company, the software, the features and the delivery methods. Should your firm get iManage? In our iManage review – let’s sum up the good and the bad.

The Good

  • iManage is powerful – its packed with a lot of advanced document management features that law firms enjoy.
  • iManage is fast – with the right server infrastructure, operations such as search queries will be returned quickly.
  • iManage is mature – it’s been around a long time, and making it a known solution amongst law firms

The Bad

  • iManage is expensive, compared to other alternatives in the space (such as Worldox).
  • iManage requires a lot of horsepower to run – which will cost you either in server hardware or hosting fees.
  • iManage requires a special skillset to implement, and therefor requires hiring a specialist consultant to get up and running.

Related

Finding the Best Legal Document Management Software

We hope this Worldox review was helpful as you evaluate DMS options. If you’re looking for the best Legal Document Management solution for your firm, check out our Legal Document Management Comparison Chart. In this cart we do a side-by-side comparison of the most popular DMS applications used by law firms today.