What Functionality and Content should I add to my Intranet: Part 4: Role-Based Access

So far I’ve covered both scope and site architecture in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 in my series of posts on functionality and content for a law firm intranet. My plan in this series was to begin with purpose, structure and access methodology and continue to build until we get into content and functionality. You will see descriptions of both in these introductory posts as content and functionality does not exist without a solid base created by scope, structure, etc., but we will expand those ideas in future posts. For today, we will discuss access.

In creating an intranet or portal, one must consider how users will access information, what information do they need to see, and what security levels are already in place. An intranet can be very vanilla in that the users all have access to the same information. While this is the simplest access level requiring no authentication, it does not always serve the purpose of an intranet.

In the post on scope, we discussed the purpose of an intranet. While some may see it as a way to share information, an intranet that brings the most value to an organization improves productivity and in doing so affects the bottom line. It becomes the backbone upon which business is done. One of the best comments I received about the intranet I was in charge of at my last firm was, “the intranet has become the center to how we do business.” It doesn’t get any better than that.

To create this type of intranet, the focus should be on the users in many ways including access. Role-based access makes sure each user gets access to the information they need to do their work in the most productive manner.

There are two levels to this access. The simplest is an authentication method that is based on who each user is. This can be based on active directory or on some other database that links the individuals network id to their roles including title and committee or group membership (practice group, industry group, etc.), geographic location, and any other information about the user that would help define the content and functionality to which they should have access.

The second and possibly more complicated is access based on native security in place in enterprise applications. For example, if a user has access to a document in the DMS while in that application, they would have access to the document if it was included on an intranet page through a link, search results, etc. Presenting this information on the intranet does not bypass the security already in place.

Role-based access could look something like this:

Roles

Everyone

  • Quick links to web applications depending on role
    • those who are approved to open/close matters have access to the Open/Closed Matter application, only administrative assistants see the room scheduling application, everyone can view the firm event calendar, etc.
  • Links to practice group, practice area, client or industry teams, working group, admin dept, office, etc.
    • viewable depending on each person’s membership status in each group, area, team, department
  • Calendars personalized by role
    • each practice group/area views their own group/area calendar, LAAs/paralegals see their own floor vacation calendar, administrative departments see their own event/meeting calendar, etc.
  • Links to group or department members
    • List of all members of each group or department, including name, title, phone extension, job description, office location, email address, etc.

Lawyer (Group Head)

  • Hours worked by each group member
    • hours (billable and non-billable) for every lawyer in the Group Head’s particular group by month, quarter, year
  • Billables against budget
    • number of hours worked that can be billed back to clients versus the budget by month, quarter, year
  • Group open matters
    • open matters created for clients under the Group Head’s particular group
  • Receivables against billings
    • number of dollars in payments the group has received from clients versus the number of dollars the group has billed out to clients by month, quarter, year

Lawyer (Management Committee)

  • Hours billed against budget across all practice groups
    • number of hours each practice group has billed back to clients versus the budget
  • All firm billings
    • total number of hours billed back to clients across all areas of the firm
  • Firm open matters
    • open matters created for all firm clients
  • All firm receivables against billings
    • number of dollars in payments the entire firm has received from clients versus the number of dollars the firm has billed out to clients

A lot more can be written about this topic but this should give you some idea of how role-based access can provide users what they need at point of need.  Comments?

Part 5 will focus content.

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