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


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 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, “a conversation on law library technology and knowledge management.” Her most recent project is called, a web site for those who travel with their dogs.


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


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.

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Intranet/Portal Redesign: How to Develop a Winning Strategy


You want to redesign your intranet or portal?  Success in such an initiative is fleeting at best if you approach it without a strategy.  Doing the work up front outlines why you want to engage in such a project, what content or resources you will provide via your site, when you plan to do the work, and who gets to take on the task. To create such a strategy, you will need to ask yourself a few questions.

Why do you need a redesigned/ new intranet or portal?  A few reasons may be to:

  • Move to new or improved technology platform.  As new development tools are released to the market, new standards for development evolve.  A redesign may be needed to keep up.
  • Improve content management.  Your firm may be one of the many who still maintain sites with static html pages or you may have the need to direct all new additions or changes of content be done by a select individual or individuals, creating a bottleneck in updating the system.  Distributing management of content to those who are subject experts or who own the content could improve the situation.
  • Reduce development time.  Firms with Intranets that are well used generally have a backlog of pages and/or applications that need to be created.  New tools for creating web pages or sites can reduce the time spent by developers and may even allow the staff who manage content to develop simple pages/sites.
  • Improve usability/navigation.  Each user may have different needs when it comes to using an intranet.  Using employee roles or workflow are just a couple ways to make usability and navigation better.   Examining how work is done in your organization could be the key to improved usability.  Other factors like improved search or site structure improve usability and navigation as well.
  • Improve support of intended purpose.  Perhaps your goal is to use the intranet as a communication tool, computer desktop, knowledge management platform, or other purpose.  You may need functionality you don’t have in your current implementation.

What are you going to make available on your internal site?  The answer to this will help you determine platform and tools needed for implementation.  Content can be vastly different depending on organization and purpose. 

  • Will you use the site for communication, knowledge management or various other functions?  
  • Do you have web applications that will be linked to the site? 
  • What will your structure look like? 
  • Will it be developed according to how the firm is organized or will you be using another organizational structure?
  • Will you focus on building a client/matter centric site?

When will you be implementing each part of the site?  Part of the strategy should include how you plan to maintain the site.

  • Are there components that need to be done in phases? 
  • Once they are complete, will you be following a calendar for changes and updates? 

Who will create and maintain the site? You will also need someone to develop the content management and communication plans.  This isn’t an exhaustive list of tasks but it is a good start.

  • Will it be done in-house or outsourced? 
  • Do you need to outsource parts of the project like the initial planning? 
  • Does your staff include people who can provide project planning including strategy, timelines, and more? 
  • Do you have someone who will be able to address usability, gather user requirements, develop the user and technical requirement documents, develop the site and do project management? 

How will you create and maintain the site?  The platform used for the site will drive how the site is developed.  However, unless there is a good reason, you should wait to determine platform after developing user requirements.  SharePoint, Plumtree and other intranet/portal products are similar in many ways but also have distinct differences.  Building a custom site will give you exactly what you want, but at what cost?  At the same time the portal products require development time as well.

There are many good reasons for wanting to redesign or develop a new portal/intranet and many ways to go about doing so.  The key is to have planned your strategy before starting to make sure the initiative is successful.