Archive for the ‘Scope’ Category

As a consulting company, NPCI is often asked what functionality a  law firm intranet should have and what content should it contain.   The answer to those questions is largely, it depends.   This post is the first in a series that tries to answer the questions while keeping in mind that the options for creating an intranet can be limitless.  Another caveat:  What follows is based on our experience and probably not complete if you want to see the whole picture.

Before we dive into functionality and content, lets start with scope.  As you start planning your intranet, you will likely have many ideas as well as many needs expressed by your users.   The fact is that you won’t be able to meet all the needs before the initial launch.  Like development teams that create the many applications developed and marketed by commercial entities, your best bet is to keep the scope narrow enough to be able to complete your effort and release it to your users.  What you don’t get done initially can go into your release planning.

While user requirements  for functionality as described above are going to help define your intranet, initially, you want to develop your goals by asking questions about the firm’s goals:

  • What is the purpose of the intranet?
  • What problems are we solving?
  • How can the intranet increase productivity?

For example, the development of the scope for a new intranet might include:

  • Improve communication across the firm
  • Improve employees access to  information
  • Improve processes that are currently paper based but could be automated
  • Create a means for collaboration

More specific goals for the intranet might include:

  • Integrate content across disparate applications
  • Maintain native security of enterprise applications

A redesign of the intranet may include the following goals in the scope depending on your needs:

  • Migrate to more up-to-date technology
  • Distribute the ability to add or update content
  • Increase the intranet team’s productivity (reduce development time)
  • Improve search capabilities to allow searching of content stored in applications
  • Reduce the time it takes for attorneys and staff to find information

What you include in the scope will depend on what your firm’s needs are.  Note: developing a scope is your first step to obtaining buy-in from management and your users.  For the best results and, ultimately, the buy-in you need, developing the scope should not be done in isolation.  Even though it might take longer,  you will be more successful if you develop a cross-functional team to define what you want your intranet to provide.

One point to remember:  The success of the firm’s intranet depends on it meeting your firm’s business needs as well as your user’s needs.  If you don’t plan accordingly, you will end up spending more money and more time than planned.  What happens then is your loss of the firm’s partner’s confidence in how much you understand the needs of their business and ultimately what you are capable of achieving.

Additional reading:

How to scope an intranet release, James Robertson, Step Two Designs

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