What Ultra Collaborative Intranet Platform is best for Total Attorneys?

We are evaluating which platform to build the Total Attorneys ultra-collaborative intranet on.

We know that an internal community mashup /collaboration environment is needed to support our collaboration needs as we continue to grow as an organization.

Our company currently is 170 super talented people, from software development, sales, customer support, accounting, HR, IT, marketing, call center, legal process outsourcing to yours truly.

Here are some of the features we feel we need. We are willing to write some custom code to accomplish our needs. However, we do not want to build the platform from scratch. We want the ability to setup a platform and enable everyone to build on it.

Personalized homepage for each employee. (Facebook like)

• Allow employees to express themselves and get to know each other
• Mashup of all feeds, blog, twitter, videos, content created/edited on intranet

RSS Aggregator

• Internal blogs and videos – show most viewed, most commented (this month, this year, today, etc.) Comments obviously only to be seen from within as these are internal only blogs and videos.
• External blogs and videos – show most viewed internally, most commented internally, (this month, this year, today, etc.) Keep comments contained only within our intranet.
• Internal tagging system (tag videos, blog posts)

Ability to blast messages to entire company (Yammer like)

• Reduce all company blast emails

Ability to create Polls/Surveys and track results (Survey Monkey like)

• Query our people, pick their brains.
• Take votes, enable democracy.

Document Repository for HR/Corporate

• Employee Manual, HR, 401k Info, Benefits, etc.

Internal Email/Messaging Capabilities

• Communication amongst teams
• Discussion boards
• Internal classifieds (looking to sale your car?, need nanny?)

Collaborative Workspace

• Google Docs/Spreadsheet like
• BaseCamp & Writeboard like

Allow Users to Form their own Groups/Communities (Social)

• Think Tanks
• Knitting Clubs
• Green Team

Department Resources

• Department wikis and blogs
• Document sharing

Company Updates

• New TA products
• Events and outings calendar

So far we have looked at MindTouch, SocialText, Confluence, Intranet Dashboard, Hyper Office, InstaIntranet and eKtron. At this point in our evaluation I’m told that SocialText appears to be the strongest candidate.

What is the best platform for us to build our intranet on and why?

8 Responses to “What Ultra Collaborative Intranet Platform is best for Total Attorneys?”

  1. Mr. Scanlan,

    You hit a few very important points in your post with regard to the key features to look at when evaluating a collaborative workspace. The first, and most important, point that you make is looking at the ability to grow as your needs evolve. When choosing any enterprise solution, scalability is one of the most important aspects of the package. The last thing that you would want to have happen would be to evolve your needs for a few years, and then end up with years worth of data, trapped in a closed system that has grown to it’s maximum size. I am proud to say that MindTouch has single installations approaching a million pages and millions of users without issue.

    Which brings us to the next point. You spoke several times about mashing up your data and pulling in data from external sources. Several other collaboration providers have the ability to pull in data, however far fewer give you the ability to query that data, or new data created within the pages, back out. With MindTouch Deki, your data isn’t locked away in yet another data silo; to the contrary we store all of our data in XML and every single page and data point can be queried though our Restful API. MindTouch extensions allow you to pull data from many enterprise systems, like SQL databases, CRM solutions, and even Oracle databases, then mash that data up with powerful visualization extensions and view it not only from within the MindTouch environment but in any other system as well, but querying MindTouch through our API.

    Lastly, as the Total Attorneys Intranet evolves, you may need to build in more advanced fucntionality or custom page designs. Our power scripting language, DekiScript, allows even novice users to create meaningful business applications on the MindTouch Deki platform. In addition, our logic engine is completely separate from the user interface, which means, if and when you need to create custom css to change your page look and feel, there is no danger of breaking any of the business logic functionality or corrupting your valuable data.

    MindTouch Deki is the best solution for your needs; from our document versioning and search, to robust user management and group permissioning, MindTouch is the premier enterprise collaboration solution to build the Total Attorneys Intranet.

  2. Hi Ed –

    Thanks for the tweet invite to comment to your blog.

    You have written a great list of requirements – one that captures the best features for a cutting edge 2009 Intranet, Extranet, community site and/or productivity system.

    While I think the Twitter approach was very innovative, I applaud it for another reason: that of needing an innovative mindset to create a great collaboration system/community as you are proposing here in support of Total Attorneys.

    For the best deployment success, the champion needs to have these ingrained beliefs and vision.


    There are many WIKIs, collaboration environments, and knowledge management systems out there, as you are learning in your research.

    Creating content is an intimate experience for writers and contributors wanting to create, purpose, and show good and clean content. People, as a result, can get quite “attached” to their system; it is critical to have one that is meeting their needs, wants, requirements.

    I believe, more than the tool, is having the right attitude. The innovative mindset will have to herald through what will become a progression of changed work styles; styles that will need to be continually translated back to the contributing community in evolution and practice, with the right enabling platform.

    The system will be with you a while; you will grow it, it will grow with you, and so will your requirements. You need to know that you have strong product and technical support – no matter what.

    Enter Atlassian Confluence WIKI platform.

    I believe you need a platform that you can really back and believe in. One that has all the key functionalities. One that is powerful, yet flexible and simple too. One that has not only a very strong parent company with huge customer base (in 108 countries), but equally important, a very strong, supportive, and large developer and partner community.

    I will not go feature by feature in response to your list; I can just say “Yes”. Seriously. It is that simple.

    Nonetheless, here’s a few key points: open APIs, source code included, MS Office and Open Office application support (in/out), gadgets, widgets, blogs, notifications, SharePoint integration (possible need?), many other app integration, scaling (existing installs to 100K), customizable, etc.

    I will leave Atlassian’s site to share the detail on these – Atlassian does it quite well, and thoroughly. Webinars, videos, free download – it’s all there; seeing speaks a 10,000 words better than I ever could in a Blog comment.

    Here also are a few of my favorite direct links:

    * Confluence 2.10 Rel Video (~ 4mins)
    * Quickest end to end tour – bottom of pg (imho @ ~23 mins)
    * Links to Confluence Live Sites
    * About Confluence Plugins – over 300 and highly customizable for more as you need them
    * Contributed Comparisons to other WIKIs

    In sum, ask around, do your research, download a free eval, do a test drive.

    It is simply really good software and community!

    Best Regards,

    Ellen Feaheny

    p.s. I offer you a shared desktop demo, at your convenience to ask more pointed questions, if you wish.

  3. Betsy says:

    I’ve found this website somewhat helpful in my research:


    You can compare and contrast features, price, etc. It’s not the easiest site to get around, but it has virtually every form of software we’ve been looking at! One major omission: Atlassian. Mindtouch and Socialtext are there, though, along with a cut-and-dried list of their capabilities. It’s useful at a glance.

  4. Edmund, I applaud your use of web 2.0 tools in reaching out to the vendors. I’m glad to hear our Socialtext team will be speaking with you in terms of solving your business needs, rather than just responding “me too” to a check list of features. I look forward to working with you.

  5. I would agree with Betsy’s assessment on the http://www.cmsmatrix.org site, about being a good view at a glance of features – similar to the http://www.wikimatrix.org/ site.

    I have commented here, about these “sites”, with example to TWIKI, but same theory applies here.

    The sum of it is Buyer Beware – to think that all of the listed features are apples and apples is wrong. Simply wrong.

    They can be very different depending on the platform. And in the end, really depends on what is important to you (like buying a car), as well as your long term strategy for your collaboration and knowledge management system.

    I encourage you to do your homework Ed, as you are positively doing. Demos, videos and hands-on evaluations can not be underestimated. As well as some unbiased opinion that you can find from folks that are not associated with the vendors.

    Best wishes during your evaluation and review!

  6. Ed says:

    An update on our progress:

    We have now tested almost every system listed above.

    The leading candidate at this point is one that we uncovered after this blog post was written. It is Jive Software’s Clearspace

    We now have 15 users playing with it in a live beta and it seems to be the overall favorite. We are now assessing our ability to build a couple custom features so that it can meet 100% of our needs.

    I will post up later more info. Just want to give anyone who was interested an update on our progress.

    I’d appreciate any thoughts you have on Clearspace or the direction we are headed.

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    What Ultra Collaborative Intranet Platform is best for Total Attorneys? « Edmund Scanlan

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