iManage tames the paper tiger

Case management system aids far-flung Justice antitrust team

Lisa Sarubbi, a systems analyst for the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, and co-workers are testing iManage document-management software.

(Washington Technology photo by Olivier Douliery)

The Justice Department's Antitrust Division has made a case for document management.

Systems analyst Lisa Sarubbi, office automation chief Cheryl Porpora and co-workers are testing DeskSite 6.01, a software from iManage Inc. of Foster City, Calif., in preparation for use throughout the division later this year.

Porpora's office is responsible for PCs, software, servers, and metropolitan and wide area links between the division's Washington headquarters and its seven field offices. There are about 900 computer users, 250 in the field offices and the rest spread out among six buildings in Washington.

Document management will streamline the division's paper-intensive case handling, particularly when the lead attorney works in, say, San Francisco, but needs to share documents with a university economist who is advising about the case and with another Justice attorney in Washington.

The case paperwork starts with a preliminary investigative memorandum, followed by masses of long documents. Under the existing process, the lawyers must ask the division's IT staff to create a directory for their case-related documents and set up the relevant permissions for the group members.

With document management, "all of that control would be directly in their hands," Sarubbi said.

The tech team looked at leading products and checked the vendors' references at law firms, Sarubbi said. IManage had a good reputation for support and a secure, three-tier architecture, she said.

The Justice Department is just one of more than two dozen government agencies served by iManage, including the U.S. Army, National Energy Board, Immigration and Naturalization Service, New York District Attorney's Office, California Department of Health Services, and a host of city governments. Its basic software solution, called WorkSite, has five modules aimed at helping workers share information, collaborate and manage documents and work flow.

"What we do is bring organizations and people together," said Dan Carmel, vice president of marketing and business development.

The company almost always provides its solutions through partners, he said. Its three major partners are Computer Sciences Corp., AT&T Government Solutions and Computer and Hi-tech Management Inc., an 8(a) company in Virginia Beach, Va.

Founded in 1995, iManage has about 230 employees and revenue of $38.9 million in 2001. The publicly traded company reported losses of $8.7 million in 2001, but Carmel said these were due in part to the company's efforts to expand its revenue, which grew 30 percent last year.

The company does not provide a breakdown of its government revenue, but Carmel said the public sector is one of four major industries the company serves.

The cost of the WorkSite solution varies with the number of modules and users, but Carmel said an organization with 100 users might pay $100,000 to $150,000 for the software, and then any additional costs for customization and hardware.

"Our software can be deployed quickly, requires little customization and is easy to use," he said.

Justice's Antitrust Division is in the midst of migrating from Novell NetWare 4.11 file and print services to a Microsoft Windows NT application server, Porpora said. The iManage system stores documents in a Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 database.

The division uses Corel WordPerfect 10 for word processing, running under Windows 2000 Professional. A file-open command in WordPerfect will launch the iManage client, which is integrated with the word processor.

"If users hadn't seen WordPerfect before, they would never know the difference," Sarubbi said.

One screen displays all of a user's documents and spreadsheets, regardless of the applications in which they were created.

The user interface resembles a cross between a browser and an e-mail client, with one window showing the hierarchy of public and private document folders available to each user.

DeskSite organizes documents by case, project, author, filename and document type. A user can request all memos about a specific case or do full-text searches for words in the body or footnotes.

By default, each document is marked private for its creator's eyes only, Sarubbi said. Search results reveal only the documents to which a user has read-only or full access rights.

A checkout feature lets users download a document from the database and work at home or on the road. The office copy is marked "read only" while checked out, "so nobody will make changes you're not aware of," Sarubbi said.

After two or three weeks in pilot mode, Sarubbi's team will implement the software throughout the division with help from Younts Consulting of Glen Burnie, Md.

"We wouldn't put anything into our environment unless it's been tested in our lab," Sarubbi said.

Deployment of another iManage application is on the schedule for early next fiscal year, or as soon as the DeskSite deployment is finished.

Sarubbi said she thinks the division's users will like WorkSite because it "gives them independence from the IS staff."

Porpora added that lawyers could use WorkSite to create "basically a home page for each case or investigation" on the division's intranet.

The division is paying about $500,000 to license DeskSite for each user and purchase Compaq ProLiant ML570 servers for the seven field offices plus one for Washington.

Eventually the document management project will pay for itself in increased productivity, Porpora said. Private law firms have taken to document management, she said, and the money comes out of their bottom lines -- a good indication of value to the legal community.

Government Computer News Staff Writer Patricia Daukantas can be reached at pdaukantas@postnewsweektech.com. Washington Technology Editor Steve LeSueur contributed to this story.

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