Archive for the ‘Case Studies’ Category

I’m a bit tardy in reminding readers about the IBF 24 annual event hosted by the Intranet Benchmarking Forum on May 17-18, 2011.  Paul Miller, IBF founder and CEO, talks about preparations for the event in a video blog post on Intranet Life

IBF 24 is a free 24 hour web event that gives us an inside look at some of the best intranets from around the world with input from intranet gurus whose names you will know doubt recognize.  The current schedule is as follows (note: the schedule is still being updated).

  • Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together
  • Charlene Li, social media thought leader and co-author of Groundswell, talking about her latest book “Open Leadership
  • Lee Bryant, keynote speaker and co-founder and Director of social business consultancy Headshift
  • Brian Solis, Future Works
  • James Robertson, Step Two Designs
  • Wayne Clark, Best Companies
  • Gary Swart, oDesk
  • Ross Dawson, keynote speaker, author and expert on teh future of business and technology
  • Peter Hinssen, Managing Partner of Across Technology and author of “The New Normal
  • Adam Pisoni, CTO and co-founder of Yammer, who will join directly after a Yammer press event announcing the company’s vision and product news that will further strengthen Yammer’s integration into the enterprise system landscape
  • Live intranet tours from Google, BT, IKEA, Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Abbott, Oxfam International, Aviva, Verizon, Duke Energy, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, British American Tobacco, WWF, European Space Agency, Bell Labs,  Booz Allen Hamilton and many more!

If you haven’t attended this event, you might want to plan on it this year.  One of the great things about the event is that you don’t need to attend for the entire 24 hours if you need to work or don’t have the where with all to stay up for 24 hours.  In the past, I’ve noted the parts of the program I was most interested in and worked out attending with my schedule.  If you can, you may want to attend the entire 24 hours for all the ideas and insights you can take in.  I’m going to give it a try.  Did someone say caffiene?

My last post on site architecture was the 2nd in a series of posts where I am presenting ideas on law firm intranet functionality and content.  In that post I described what a firm centric (following the firm’s organizational structure) or task centric (centered on individual tasks) site would be like.  At the end I promised to discuss how combining these two structure types might serve a firm better.  I can’t think of a better way of describing how this works than to talk about  BenNet, the law firm Bennett Jones intranet.

Before I start, let me assure you that I haven’t forgotten about client/matter centricity.  It is an important part of a law firm intranet.  It just doesn’t work as the basis for site architecture.  Instead, it fits into the task oriented structure or a structure that has role based access to the intranet.  More on that later.

Since I wrote my last post, I learned about the well deserved Platinum Intranet Innovations Award presented to Bennett Jones at KMWorld 2010 by Step Two Designs.  The award is for their intranet that was developed under Brian Bawden’s leadership.  The Step Two Designs site describes the reason for the coveted award as follows:

Bennett Jones, the 2010 Platinum Award winner and the first law firm to win this award, has created a highly sophisticated site that allows users to find vital legal Precedent information quickly and easily. ‘BenNet’ is also a ‘social intranet’, replete with site-wide commenting, user-generated resource development in the form of BenNet Books (legal books created on specific topics), and more.

Last spring, I had the pleasure of speaking to Brian and Akiva Bernstein, CEO of V51, the SharePoint consulting firm that worked with Bennett Jones on their intranet, and can’t say enough about it.  Aside from what Step Two found as innovative, it is one of  the best examples of site architecture I’ve seen in a law firm intranet.  What makes it so great?

As mentioned in the last post, the top-level navigation mirrors the site’s architecture.  Bennett Jones’ intranet’s top-level navigation is a combination of firm structure, tasks and resources.  Sounds messy?  Not really.  They’ve let the most important content bubble up to the top and presented it in a clean and cohesive manner.

The top menu includes the following (I’ve included the type of structure in a second column):

Menu Item Structure Type
Knowledge Bank (this is the part of the intranet that earned the award) Resource / Task
Our Teams Firm
How do I? Task
CLE & Training Resource / Task
Policies & Benefits Resource / Task
Our Offices Firm

There are some links on the top right of the menu that take users to specific resources including their personalized access to the site as well as a search box, but the site’s structure is based on the menu items above with the site’s content fitting into that structure.  How do they work?

  • The Our Offices and Our Teams menu items take users to pages that are similar to what you would find in an intranet that was organized by the firm structure.  Note: They will be adding Clients & Matters in a future release.
  • The How Do I menu item takes users to a page where tasks are organized by topic.  Each topic has 3-4 tasks with a More link that would allow them to go to the topic page with more tasks.
  • The Knowledge Bank, CLE & Training, and Policies & Benefits menu items take users to pages that provide access to resources combined with tasks.  In other words, users can find information and act on it.

I mentioned access client/matter information being best done by giving access to that information depending on the role each user plays. That will be covered in a future post. For this topic, let’s look at what Bennett Jones has done with role based access. For example, when location-specific information is presented, the tab for the user’s location is presented in the foreground panel. Similarly, in Policies & Benefits, users are taken directly to the Benefits and Programs that apply to them as partners, associates, staff, etc.

While the types of site architecture mentioned in the previous post are limiting in that a firm will often have information, tasks, or resources that don’t fit into the firm or task based structures, I would challenge you to think of one of those items that won’t fit into this combined structure.

While you are considering your site architecture, consider if you want it centered on one specific architecture type or, like Bennett & Jones, a mix that serves each purpose appropriately.  The simplest approach is to follow the firm’s organizational structure, but it probably won’t give your users enough clues about where information is located and it won’t hold up in the long run



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




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