Strategic Librarian

Using strategy to develop the law firm library.


Webinar: SharePoint Out of the Box – Power Your Intranet Using SharePoint Lists

SharePoint lists allow you to quickly and easily integrate library content into your Intranet portal, making it possible to search, sort and filter without the need for programming or third party software.  Register now to join us in a webinar called SharePoint Out of the Box: Power Your Intranet Using SharePoint Lists, that will be held on Thursday, February 11, 2010 from Noon to 1PM Central. You can learn how to create and manage research portals, virtual libraries, bibliographies, collections of external and internal links, or even use lists to generate update-able navigation within your site. You can transfer Excel or Access data to a SharePoint list in minutes.  We’ll look at examples, examine the uses, benefits and drawbacks of using SharePoint lists, then walk through the basics of creating lists, adding data, and presenting the information on SharePoint sites.

During the session, you will:

  1. Understand the possible benefits and drawbacks to using SharePoint lists
  2. Learn how to create a list, import data to a SharePoint list and incorporate lists into your SharePoint pages

Cost:  $30 per person USD or $60 USD for groups of up to 10 from the same firm

Speaker:

Cindy Chick, Global Manager of Knowledge Systems, Latham & Watkins LLP
Cindy works closely with the library, docket, records and knowledge management groups to help define and implement technology-focused solutions in her current role as Global Manager of Knowledge Systems.   She was co-editor/publisher of LLRX.com for 6 years, and has been published in the American Lawyer, Searcher, PLL Perspectives and Online Magazine  as well as speaking for a number of conferences and programs.   Cindy maintains a blog called LawLibTech.com, “a conversation on law library technology and knowledge management.” Her most recent project is called CarGoDogs.com, a web site for those who travel with their dogs.

Moderator:

Nina Platt, Principal ConsultantNina Platt Consulting, Inc.
Owner and principal consultant, Nina Platt is a law librarian and former AmLaw 100 firm library director who has worked in law firms since 1986.  Her work in library management has spanned all but 4 of those years.  Nina believes the most effective law firm libraries are critical to both the business and practice of law and that achieving to build a business critical library can only be done through the use of business tools like strategic plans, business plans, business cases, and more.  She has written and delivered numerous articles, presentations, and papers on library and knowledge management topics.   

Questions?  Contact awitt@ninaplatt.com


Creating the Sucessful Law Firm Intranet: Webinar 5 – Measure & Maintain

Our 5th and final webinar of the Creating the Successful Law Firm Intranet will be presented on Wednesday, September 24th at Noon – 1:00pm Central Time.  It follows the previous webinars in the series – Research, Design, Develop, and Rollout and completes the model we use when working with intranets.

In this session you will learn: 

þ      Three key metrics to track to communicate your success.

þ      How to plan for changes to your intranet.

þ      Creating a user advisory board for future input.

MODERATOR:

Nina Platt, Principal Consultant, Nina Platt Consulting, Inc.
Owner and principal consultant, Nina Platt, is a former law librarian and AmLaw 100 firm library director who has worked with knowledge management (KM) in law firms since 1986. She has written and delivered numerous articles, presentations and papers on both KM and intranet-related subjects.


SPEAKERS:
 

Laurie Southerton, Certified Usability Analyst, Southerton Consulting & Art, LLC

Laurie is a Certified Usability Analyst and a Certified Business Analyst providing clients exceptional results with intranet planning and design since 1994. Her company specializes in User-Centered Design, Marketing, Communications and Training.


Amy Witt,
Project Analyst, Nina Platt Consulting, Inc.
Amy has over 8 years of experience planning and managing intranet projects and teams. Previous to joining NPCI, Amy was Intranet Manager in an AmLaw 100 firm.


            
Elizabeth Ellis, Partner – KM at Torys LLP

Elizabeth is responsible for the firm’s knowledge management infrastructure and research systems, ensuring that the firm’s collective experience and expertise are captured and applied for the benefit of the firm’s clients. As part of her role, Elizabeth manages the firm’s extensive precedent collections. She is responsible for the continuing development of technology and internal processes that support the firm’s lawyers in their advice and direction to clients.

FEE: $30.00 US per person

If you have participated in the previous webinars and have yet to register for Webinar 5: Measure and Maintain, register for this webinar.  If you haven’t participated in the previous webinar, you will have the opportunity during registration to purchase the recordings of the previous sessions.


Intranet Benchmarking Forum Report on Strategy

j04221191.jpgIf you are interested in a quick but thorough list of why managing your intranet strategically may fail, you may want to purchase the Intranet Benchmarking Forum (IBF) report, Intranet Strategy and Governance: The State of the Art, written by Helen Day and John Baptista, June 2007.  Day posts data on the IBF blog from the research they did for the report.  Her posting titled Intranet Strategy; The Intranet Manager’s Challenge was posted to the IBF weblog, Intranet Life on July 23, 2007.     The following challenges are listed as reasons a strategy may fail:

  • Many intranets do not have a clear, documented strategy
  • If there is a strategy, it is rarely communicated clearly to leaders
  • Organisations struggle to align intranet strategy with broader business objectives
  • Senior sponsorship or ownership of the intranet is often lacking
  • While standards for static content are generally good, enforcing standards can be tricky
  • Implementing consistent standards for transactional content is particularly difficult

Day follows this list with a list of key factors for success:

  • Develop a formal strategy that shows the strategic value of the intranet to the business
  • Communicate strategy upwards and downwards
  • Develop a governance model with clear roles and responsibilities
  • Enforce standards and guidelines
  • Ensure clear ownership of the intranet at board level
  • Involve all relevant stakeholders

It looks like the rest of the report may be interesting as well.


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Intranet/Portal Redesign: Planning for Success

j0177968.jpgBuilding an intranet or portal is tough enough but doing it without a plan is close to impossible.  I’m not talking about making even dramatic changes to what you have but starting over.  With a strategy in place as mentioned in a previous Strategic Librarian post, Intranet/Portal Redesign: Developing a Winning Strategy, planning should be straight forward if you know what to do.

Redesigning anything is a large prospect.  The good news is that even that task can be made simpler by breaking the process into phases.  The most logical approach to redesigning your firm’s intranet/portal is to use a five phase process:

  • Research
  • Design
  • Implementation
  • Rollout
  • Maintenance.

The research process allows you to learn more about what your organization needs, what platform is best for your needs, and what resources you will need to deliver a new portal or intranet. 

The design phase is where you gather your research and make decisions regarding platform, content,  and development tools.  In this phase you use the user requirements gathered in the research phase to develop a design that responds to those needs.

The implementation phase is the phase where the rubber meets the road in terms of deliverables.  Up until now, the results of the first two phases can be defined by additional planning documents but during the implementation phase, the end results take shape.

The rollout phase delivers the new intranet / portal to the organization taking into account the communication process that needs to take place with a new system.  Some version of training is part of this phase.

The maintenance phase starts after the rollout as the the intranet/portal is evaluated and improvements are made.  This phase is ongoing as long as the intranet continues to support the needs of the organization. 

During the next few weeks I will be posting an article for each phase beginning with research.   I look forward to your comments or thoughts on the topic.


Intranet/Portal Redesign: The Third-Generation Intranet

When you came to work today, you most likely started your computer and eventually made your way to your organization’s intranet. If you were lucky, you found an intuitive interface that provided access to the information you need to do your work and a guided path to the web applications your firm has implemented to support the practice of law. We take all of this for granted in 2007 and usually expect more than what we have. When and how did the intranet come in to being and what does the future hold for this very useful technology. What will the next generation intranet look like?

Depending on what articles you read, intranets introduced in 1993 or 1994.  Steven L. Telleen, working at Amdahl, first coined the term “intranet” in July 1994.  In the first iteration of intranets, the focus was on creating a universal client that provided access to information across a variety of platforms.  At the same time, the development of an intranet was intended to be an alignment of technology and business goals as demonstrated in Figure 1 published in Telleen’s early writings.

Telleen Concepts

Figure 1

As Telleen was working on what the framework of an intranet should look like, Netscape was working on the web browser with Microsoft hot on their heels. The developer of the Mosaic browser, Marc Andreessen, reported that even as he developed the browser, he was hearing from businesses who were interested in using the browser for internal purposes McCartney, L., “Intranet Business Follows Race for Cyberspace”, Upside, Dec 1996).

Following the introduction of the browser, Netscape and then Microsoft introduced their intranet server suites (Netscape Server Suite and Microsoft Back Office) that could be used to create a web environment within an organization. With the infrastructure in place for creating intranets, it would seem that the first generation intranet would be an integrated marvel.

Instead, most companies and firms who put intranets in place used little integration of disparate systems, usually due to a lack of commitment in resources (skills & dollars).  Intranets were most often developed with static pages that required updating by individuals who knew html.

Additionally, many companies had no standards or guidelines for what was added to the intranet and often the sites that were built were collections of unused documents that were poorly organized. The first generation was a good start, but the early adopters in law firms soon learned that they needed more than they had.

The second-generation intranet brought more integration with firm resources. Using portal products like Plumtree, LawPort, SharePoint many firms developed intranets that pulled content from firm databases and put it in context. An example would be the development of client pages where content would be pulled from a firm’s accounting and document management systems or any other system that held client information.

During this phase of development, more applications became web based and were accessed from the intranet. The development of RSS allowed news to be integrated as well. Some firms made huge investments in their intranets and they saw benefits for the dollars spent. Client/Matter centric intranets started to be developed.

Fast forward to today where many firms are starting to look towards the next generation of intranets. As the technology continues to develop, we are seeing new tools that make the development of a robust and feature rich intranet more attainable, even by smaller firms. Making the most of an intranet means paying attention to best practices.

Think of the intranet as a reflection of the business. The intranet has grown in purpose from an interface that allows access to a staff directory and policies and procedures, to the tool Telleen intended. Intranet strategy should be driven by the firm’s business goals and strategy.

Take time to plan. Installing SharePoint and throwing a portal together without taking time to plan will create problems. Get the right people to the table to discuss what the goals are for the intranet. Turn the goals into actionable steps with defined deliverables. Decide on a timeline and the development approach.

Do usability testing before, during and after the new intranet is developed. Success of an intranet hinges on content but also on how easy it is for your users to find what they are looking for. Along with the testing, survey and interview users to determine what needs have been met and what additional functionality is needed in the new intranet. You cannot overdo involving users in the planning.

Define requirements for the new intranet. What will it look like and what do you need it to do? Who will maintain content? How will they accomplish that task? If you are planning an intranet that is role based, what will each roll need when they open their browser? Do not get hung up on how the development will be done. Focus on functional requirements. The technical requirements will come later.

Define the architecture of the site and select the software needed to support the architecture. Will you use something like SharePoint? If so, are there web parts or third party solutions you should consider like LawPort, xmLaw, HubbardOne, or Handshake? What are other firms using? What do they consider their successes?

Develop a detailed project plan for the development phase. Depending on your goals, it may take weeks or years to develop the site. Create a plan that works for your unique needs. If you know you cannot accomplish all you want to do before you deliver the first version, divide the project into phases with version releases as you go from one phase to another.

Communicate with your users. The plan that will not work is one that does not involve the users of the intranet. “If you build it, they will come” does not always work. If you involve your users in the building process, they will be more likely to use what you have developed.

So what makes an intranet innovative? It probably depends on the firm but there are common threads. It is:

  • Based on business needs and reflects the business
  • Built using state of the art technology but not for technology’s sake – the technology meets a need whether you are using .NET, XML, RSS, web services, or other technologies that are becoming new standards.
  • Integrates with other firm systems in a meaningful way – it puts content in context
  • Provides customized and context based search at the point of need regardless of where one is on the site
  • Empowers the content creators – consider using a content management system
  • Empowers the users – give them what they need when they need it based on role, task, or other organizational structures

 It is becoming clear that the next generation intranet is one that uses the latest in technology but goes many steps further if viewed as a tool to further business strategy. Firms are finding that their intranets can increase communication, make the business operate more smoothly and make them more competitive. Combine the technology with strategy and add good planning and you will have a platform for innovation for years to come.

This article was previously published in Practice Innovations, Oct 2006.