Archive for October, 2008
Lately I’ve come across more and more articles about project management offices (PMOs) and how/why you should create one. This is something I think can provide real benefits to an organization if done properly, but isn’t as popular within law firms. Two of my favorite project management website resources, TechRepublic and gantthead, have recently posted some great articles that you might find useful if you’re interested in the topic of PMOs, or considering how to start a PMO at your organization. (And yes, law firms CAN successfully launch and work within a PMO.)
What I like most about these articles is the lack of sugar-coating. I’ll do some paraphrasing here: Starting a PMO is hard, it will add layers of complexity, you might have difficulty getting buy-in, if done wrong it can really hinder your projects, and you’ll be forced to classify and prioritize EVERYTHING. However, the articles also mention the benefits of consistency and approval processes, and both offer some steps to get there, or at least to help you figure out if your organization is ready to start down that PMO road. Check them out, I’m convinced they will give you insight!
See also my previous post on “What’s a PMO and why does it matter to my intranet?“
~ Amy Witt
Law firms face many challenges in today’s economy, but we do know that a firm’s intranet plays a role in managing costs. The Intranet Benchmarking Forum (IBF), the world’s leading intranet and portal benchmarking group, offers us all the following research based conclusions about cost savings with intranet-based applications:
- Intranets…streamline communication and the provision of information, and provide access to self-service tools that make processes more efficient.
- In addition, increasting efficiency via intranet content or tools…is more likely to free people up to spend time on other activities. …staff are now doing smarter things with their time.
I just read some other great tidbits in an article called “Cut costs by expanding your intranet” by the eGov AU blog. The author lists four key things you can do to help expand your intranet even when funding is in danger of being decreased. Although not specifically geared toward law firms, the techniques are still the same:
- Quantify and promote usage and satisfaction with the intranet (Make sure the actual usage and perceptions are similar, and hopefully the discussion will shift to the cost of NOT using the intranet.)
- Identify a senior-level sponsor (ALWAYS a good idea, if you can manage it, but make sure that person is well-respected, don’t just take anyone who agrees to do it)
- Take appropriate steps to increase intranet awareness and usage (An ongoing activity that could include communication, promotions, posting new information, small fixes)
- Identify business processes the intranet can perform more cost-effectively than via other channels (Show demonstated examples of where the intranet can save money, like reducing travel, increasing collaboration, etc.)
For more intranet tips from the IBF, see also: ”Tips from Intranet Benchmarking Forum: 12 Ways to Use Your Intranet to Cut Costs” and “The Recession-Proof Intranet“
Checklists and guidelines are always useful for those of us just learning how something works. You can find many of these types of articles or white-papers that focus on intranets or web development. While many of the articles written about web 2.0 and intranet 2.0, and, well all the other 2.0s, have been of a provocative nature, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an article that admonishes me to “Blow up the old intranet!”
Chris McGrath, co-creator of ThoughtFarmer, has done just that in his article, Intranet 2.0: 10 Not So Easy Steps published on FUMSI, a FreePint website. His reasoning? “It’s irrelevant to employees’ day-to-day job. The cumbersome updating process alienates people. It’s out of date and usage is dismal.” Well, that is straight to the point. Not how we speak here in Minnesota but I think I know what he means. Actually, for many intranets, he’s spot on.
He goes on to provide 9 additional steps. The following is a list of all 10 steps.
- Blow up the old intranet
- Turn users into authors
- Expose the social context of all content
- Make things findable
- Send signals when content changes
- Provide scaffolding: a framework to support new content
- Hold a barn raising to populate initial content
- Lead by example
- Get the intranet in-the-flow
Along with the steps he includes answers to Why? and How? with examples and screen-shots that demonstrate what he is saying.
This is an interesting thought provoking article well worth the read for anyone working with intranets.