Archive for July, 2008

The third webinar in our five-part series called “Creating a Successful Law Firm Intranet” has been successfully completed!  This latest session focused on developing with users, and we covered some key issues such as:

  • Should you build your own law firm’s intranet, buy an external product, or a combination of both?
  • Definitions of portal vs. intranet
  • Vendor technologies (like SharePoint, Handshake, XMLAW, and LawPort)
  • Pitfalls to avoid during development
  • Creating a test plan and test environment

It was a full session but we did have time for just a few questions before we concluded.  In particular, there was one attendee question that I’d like to further expand on, and that was the difference between WSS and MOSS.  Aside from the very basic differences I covered in my slides (WSS is free to create customizable websites, MOSS is paid version for Office server suite with more functionality and enterprise search), I found a few other resources that help explain the differences in more detail.

I also mentioned in the session that when you hear “SharePoint” it can mean many different things.  To reiterate this point, I found a SharePoint Blogs posting that talks more about the broad label of SharePoint.

We still have two more sessions in our series coming up, one on intranet rollout, and the final one on intranet measurement and maintenance.  Registration details will be posted soon, but for now mark your calendars to attend:

Webinar 4: You built it, now will they come? Plan the successful intranet rollout. 
Wednesday, August 20  Noon -1:00 PM Central Time   


Webinar 5: Measure & Maintain: Planning for your Intranet’s future.
Wednesday, September 24  Noon -1:00 PM Central Time

We hope you can join us!

~ Amy Witt


Are you interested in knowing how the rest of the world or at least the members of a forum expect from an intranet?  Perhaps you want to know about which applications are considered a must add?   The Intranet Benchmarking Forum is a great resource for information on what other organizations are doing with their intranets.  While membership is a bit prohibitive for most law firms (their membership is largely Fortune 500), non-members can still benefit from their research.

For example, they recently published an article, The Employee Directory, in their blog, Intranet Life: Intranet Best Practice, Trends and Stories.  Plumb full of good advice, it outlines the next wave in such directories introduced with this paragraph:

Many of the features of a “wave three” directory incorporate elements of social networking tools, such as: skills and interests, recent blog posts, favourites, presence information and network of colleagues or friends. But it can also incorporate other functionality such as specific views for managers and HR to manage talent and performance more easily.

and pinpoints specifics as well.

The categories that are used to classify the articles demonstrate the vast array of thinking shared on this blog:

  • Communication & Culture
  • Design & Usability
  • IBF 24**
  • Intranet/ Portal Technology
  • Metrics & Performance
  • Strategy & Governance
  • Trend Watch
  • The research that IBF does for its members is another great benefit.  While most reports are available to members only, the summaries of the reports provide insight to non-members as well.  Recent reports include:

    **IBF 24 is an annual 24 hour webinar, open to both members and non-members, that includes “live tours of the world’s most advanced intranets, corporate portals, information workplaces and a series of key note talks from industry professionals.” 

    ~ Nina Platt

    If you’re reading this, you obviously have some kind of interest in your law firm’s intranet, whether you work in IT, the library, marketing, or elsewhere within your firm.  Maybe you have some decision-making power, or perhaps you work on day-to-day maintenance of your intranet and related projects.  No matter what your role or status, you should be thinking about how to involve your intranet in the project management (PM) efforts going on at your firm.

    If you haven’t heard the term before, a Project Management Office, or PMO, is an established department or group that defines and maintains the project management process at your firm.  The PMO can be a source of standardization, documentation, guidance, and metrics, and is usually based on formally recognized and accepted principles such as the Project Management Institute and their widely used Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).  If you come from a large firm, your PMO could connect and provide overall management structure for already existing processes and workflows at your firm such as incident, problem, change, release, and configuration management, which are all parts of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework.  Chances are, however, if you are part of a smaller firm, a PMO could simply bridge the gap and provide visibility and support between management committee and project teams.

    If your firm has a PMO already, then your task should be to get involved with it as much and as soon as possible.  Talk to the lead project manager (PM) and ask for a presentation overview to your department, to show how the PMO benefits the firm.  During that presentation, ask what kind of projects go through the PMO (size, responsibility, visibility, budget, etc.), and if your intranet projects are not already on the PMO radar, talk about the firm-wide reach of your intranet and the importance of the availability of technology and firm support.  Make sure that the PMO knows about what you’re doing, and what you’d like to do, so they can help you plan for projects at a higher level.

    Now, it’s my understanding that PMOs are not widely established within law firms, so this may be unfamiliar territory to some of you.  Even if your firm doesn’t have a PMO, there are some things you can do to raise the visibility of your intranet projects.

    • Start using a project plan of some sort.  It can be a simple outline that includes overview, approach, specifications, tasks, schedule, cost/budget, and staffing/resources. Circulate this plan and keep it up-to-date.
    • Talk to your managers about your project.  This could include people like your department director, the CIO, CKO, library or IT director, management committee, or technology partner.  Get them on board and keep them informed often of your progress.
    • Dedicate an official (or unofficial!) project manager, even if it is only a portion of their job duties.  You need to have someone responsible for the project plan, overall details, and keeping things on track.  Make sure others know who that person is.
    • Get your users involved early.  They will be your information sources, advocates, validators, and testers.   User involvement should be a planned part of your project.
    • Establish a team that you can rely on.  This could include content experts, librarians, trainers, marketers, technology experts, or application developers.  Rally them around your project, get them excited to work with you and what you’re doing.  Keep them updated on the progress as it applies to them.
    • Stick to your schedule as much as possible.  Even if the deadlines are self-imposed, you will gain much more credibility if you can meet your goals.
    • If possible, deliver a “quick win” early on in your intranet project.  This is something that is fairly easy to do that will impact a larger number of users.  This will make everyone happy and keep them engaged for future phases or deliverables.

    I realize that it’s easier said than done to create visibility and support for an intranet project, especially if it’s not viewed as one of your firm’s high priorities.  Keep talking to people, start documenting and distributing your plan, and get involved with as much PMO-like activity that you can.

    For more law firm PMO tales, you might want to check out this multi-part article series called PMOs and Law Firms: Lessons from the Field from the Project Management Hut.

    -Amy Witt

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    • Purchase Creating a Successful Law Firm Intranet

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