It’s been a while since I did my first article comparing Worldox and NetDocuments. Since that article, many features have changed, and it is only natural to look at these changes. As someone who helps firms decide between both software on a regular basis, I have decided to focus on some of the items I look for when helping people choose Worldox or NetDocuments. The five things I use to navigate this process are integration, mobility, features, external sharing, and cost. Every firm is unique, and as I meet with firms, these qualities can take me in unexpected directions. To make things complicated, Worldox and NetDocuments, also continue to update and improve their software. As you read this blog, think of it as a guide, not a fixed solution.
Integration is a link between the document management system (DMS) and another piece of software. Integrations can range from your customer relationship management (CRM) software to practice management (PM) software.
Before I dive into this, let me acknowledge a pet peeve of mine. Integration for the sake of integration is useless. A good integration removes steps from a workflow. A bad integration tries to hide the integrated software and complicates things. Some good PM and DMS integrations are Worldox/Amicus, NetDocuments/Clio, and NetDocuments/ActionStep.
A bad integration is Worldox/TimeMatters. In this example, Worldox is the victim. The integration is complicated and therefore challenging to understand and use. This happens because TimeMatters tries to overtake Worldox with its own interface. This interface creates a third program, or it feels that way, that is far from intuitive. Again, this is not by any means the fault of Worldox.
Most good integrations eliminate the need to create a new client or matter in the DMS because the PM pushes this information. Also, when in the PM, if you choose to access documents, a good integration, launches the DMS.
How does integration help someone choose a DMS? Well if the firm already has ActionStep, I would start by guiding that firm to NetDocuments due to the integration. There may still be other factors that would send us back to Worldox, but this is one of the first items I check.
Advantage: Draw because this depends on your PM.
Mobility and Remote Access
First, mobility and remote access, while used interchangeably, are two different items.
Remote access is the ability to access the information you need from a full operating system (Windows or Mac). In this situation, you are usually working from home on a desktop or laptop.
Mobile access means accessing the information you need from a smartphone or tablet. Working from a laptop in a coffee shop or airport is also included. But the critical element here, IMO, is the smartphone or tablet.
When mobility is a priority for firms, NetDocuments has the edge. This is because NetDocuments is younger and developed in the cloud. If a firm stresses the need specifically for mobility, I start the DMS search with NetDocuments.
If the firm specifies both mobility and remote access or just remote access, again I start with NetDocuments while being open-minded to Worldox. Worldox has mobility features and depending on a firm’s settings this could be a non-issue. In the past Worldox mobility features had an additional cost, but this may not be the case much longer.
Recently I worked with a 25-person firm who said remote access was important, but mobility was not. They already had excellent infrastructure for remote access using remote desktop. As we continued reviewing their needs, Worldox ended up being the solution because if fit with their current remote access solution and integrated with their CRM.
Worldox and NetDocuments have a very similar feature set. However, there are a few items that separate them.
First is the interface, or the part of the system with which the user interacts. I firmly believe that a poorly designed interface means the software is perpetually broken. Fortunately, neither Worldox or NetDocuments have a poorly designed interface.
However, most people find the NetDocuments interface to be more modern, and in my experience, a bit easier to learn. Worldox is no slouch; its interface is well designed and has advantages over NetDocuments, but it’s not quite as modern.
While Woldox’s interface is not quite as modern, it has a unique edge over NetDocuments in the form of customization. Worldox is extremely customizable. In its interface, you can change font size, color, line striping, spacing, and more. But the best advantage here is the ability to set multi-level sorts on any column, sort a document’s list into groups by any column, or sort them into tiles by any column. When paired with filters and categories (categories is a Worldox feature) you have countless ways to slice and dice the data. These options mean a truly customized view based on the individual.
Going back to NetDocuments, you can only set up a workspace to filter one feature, usually, document type. If you change the layout of a workspace or list view, it affects all other users. I hope NetDocuments works some of the sorting, filtering, and categories features into its product in the future. But in NetDocuments defense, most of the firms I work with don’t leverage the advanced sorting, filtering, categories, and customization found in Worldox.
This section will be quick.
NetDocuments has many ways to share documents externally. This includes secured email links, ShareSpaces for sharing groups of documents, and External Users which allows you to create an extranet.
Worldox also has this ability though it’s Citrix ShareFile integration. In the past, this was an add-on feature with additional cost. While the interface is intuitive and straightforward, it still feels like another piece of software to learn, because your staff needs to learn ShareFile. ShareFile is excellent and rivals or surpasses NetDocuments in the external sharing, but the additional cost and need to learn one more piece of software, no matter how easy, is a small drawback here.
If you’ve talked to me or read any of my other work, you know I hate making decisions based only on price. Cost should be the final eliminating factor between two or three excellent options. Never lead with price.
So, which is cheaper? That depends on your focus, short-term vs. long-term, software vs. project.
Let’s start with the short term. If you only look at the month, or first few months, NetDocuments is less expensive. It has a cost per user per month. Comparatively, Worldox has licensing costs and annual maintenance plans. So, the initial purchase price means that NetDocuments is less expensive.
If you focused on the long-term, then Worldox is the less expensive option. After you get past the initial licensing and annual maintenance plan, you have a yearly cost. Meaning the cost is per user per year! Depending on firm size, in 3-4 years you could make up the difference. In some situations, this can include the purchase of hardware too!
Let’s look at this hypothetically for a ten-person firm over the course of five years. For this comparison let’s say that NetDocuments has a $40 cost per user per month. Worldox, however, has a first-year licensing fee $460 per user and the yearly cost per user is $100.
Year 1 -5
- $40 per user x 12 months = $480 per user cost per year
- $480 x 10 firm users = $4,800 firm cost per year
- $4,800 x 5 years = $24,000 firm cost for 5 years
- $460 licensing fee + $100 per user per year= $560 per user cost in year 1
- $560 x 10 firm users = $5,600 firm cost in year 1
- $100 per user x 10 firm users = $1,000 firm cost per year in years 2-5
- $5,600 + ($1,000 x 4 years) = $9,600 firm cost for 5 years
How about the implementation costs? Well, as someone who has installed both many times, I can say the cost is similar. A DMS project has five major phases, consulting/customization, installation, testing, upload, and training. For both solutions consulting/customization, installation, testing, and training are about the same. Technically, Worldox has more installation, but nothing that significantly changes a budget.
The most significant difference is the upload or getting the firms documents from where they currently are into the DMS. I hate to cop out here, but there are a few strategies for each solution and depending on the one selected price can change drastically. Looking at the most common methods, Worldox usually has the less expensive upload (migration).
So, if we pair the project costs with the software costs which is less expensive? Worldox usually has the more expensive software initially (but not cheaper long term), but, the less expensive project and NetDocuments is less costly initially (but more expensive long-term), and the more expensive software. This typically ends up balancing out. Well, at least the way we at Accellis do projects.
So What Should You Choose?
At this point, you should have an excellent place to start when choosing between the two excellent vendors. But as your search progresses, keep an open mind. Sometimes a small detail can change the course of a conversation wildly. Also, each vendor is continuously making changes to their software, so when one vendor has something another does not, it’s likely that the will add that feature shortly.
If you’ve gone through this process, please share your story below. How did you pick one over the other? What were features that were important to you?
Or if you’re a NetDocuments or Worldox consultant, how do you help your clients choose? Do you find project costs vary between the two? Let me know!