Posts Tagged ‘Intranet strategy’
We are pleased to announce the publication of Creating the Successful Law Firm Intranet published by Ark Group in association with KIM Legal. Written by Nina Platt, Laurie Southerton, and Amy Witt, the report is based on the user centric implementation method presented during last year’s webinar series of the same name. It includes chapters that discuss developing a business case, governance, and an in-depth look at the process model the book is based on as well as chapters for each phase of the model – Research, Design, Development, Roll-out, and Measure & Maintenance.
The report also includes case studies of the intranet deployments at Baker Donelson, O’Melveny & Myers, Reed Smith, Tory’s with additional cases studies of firms who are not named. Our thanks to Meredith Williams, (director of knowledge management at Baker Donelson), Tom Baldwin (chief knowledge officer at Reed Smith), Marty Metz (director of information technology at O’Melveny & Myers) and Elizabeth Ellis (partner at Torys) for their willingness to offer their intranets as case studies and work with us on the development of those case studies. We also want to thank Anna Shaw, commissioning editor at Ark Group, for her editorial expertise.
A link to more information about the book is included above. Once there, you will find a link to view the table of contents and executive summary. We will be posting additional information regarding the purchase of the book next week.
Now we can return to creating posts for this blog. Something we haven’t done for some time.
~ Nina Platt
If you have participated in any of the webinars that have made up the Creating the Successful Law Firm Intranet series, you know that our (Nina Platt Consulting and Southerton Consulting) work with intranets is based on the following model.
Our model allows for more time spent across each of the tasks. Spending more time on research and design reduces the time spent on development and implementation. It also gives the intranet a better chance at success because the intranet, when rolled out, is what the users need. Planning for rollout, measurement, and maintenance is often given short shrift. This model provides for that planning and it does it within the project time and budget.
Traditional development of an intranet looks more like the following model.
There is usually very little time spent on research and design. When research and design are ignored or all but absent, proportionately more time is spent in development as developers code and build the site and then recode and rebuild the site - making this the most expensive part of the project budget. Spending little time on rollout means less awareness of the intranet’s functionality and value. Also, note that no project time or budget set is aside for measurement and maintenance. This means the intranet project comes in late and over budget. Sound familiar?
This traditional models leads to acceptance failure of intranets and the firm’s IT staff starting over and over again trying to build a site the firm will use.
~ Nina Platt
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.
~ Nina Platt