Archive for the ‘SharePoint’ Category

Another Friday and a few more articles worth reading:

James Robertson (Step Two Designs) produces another winner Column Two blog post with Planning your SharePoint intranet project where he provides best practice methodology as he admonishes:

SharePoint does, however, introduce some new questions into the intranet planning process. The greatest strength of SharePoint is its breadth of functionality, from content publishing and collaboration, to CRM and application development.

It is this wide range of capabilities that can be so daunting for many teams. Without a clear plan, the results can become a little bit of everything, but no one clear and compelling success.

Stephen Byrne (also from Step Two) follows suit with Listening for intranet success.  He discusses soft skills needed to create a successful intranet:

  • building and maintaining stakeholder relationships and networks
  • coaching and inspiring others
  • building trust during periods of change
  • using people-centred research techniques such as interviewing, focus groups, facilitated workshops or anecdote circles

and points out that listening is the most important skill to use when undertaking the tasks listed above.

While a bit dated (written in Feb) Toby Ward’s CMS Wire article, Small Business Intranets, There’s More Than SharePoint, provides good alternatives for firms that don’t think of their IT departments as development groups.  He quotes Michael Jones:

“SharePoint is most certainly overkill in most cases,” says Michael Jones, Marketing Coordinator for The ADWEB Agency that produces Intranet DASHBOARD, an Australian-based intranet solution. “It’s like using a commercial harvester to prune your roses, or implementing SAP at your local convenience store. SharePoint is effectively a development platform which companies can use to create an intranet, but unless they have complex custom requirements (and a large development budget), SharePoint isn’t the right tool to use.”

and points out that “the price tag of an SP intranet for 100 employees is often in the US$ 10,000 to $30,000 range.” 

SharePoint can be a very expensive proposition.  I know some larger firms that budgeted $1,000,000+ for their SP initiative.  I’ve also heard of other firms that found that SharePoint was a bit like the old house in the movie, The Money Pit.

On his own blog, Intranet Blog, Toby Ward provides tips on how to get support for your project in Selling intranet 2.0 to executives.   He followed the post with a webinar,  Strategies for Selling Social Media to Target Audiences in Your Organization, where he and Shel Holz covered:

  • How exactly engaged employees contribute to your business.
  • How to determine the best mix of communications tools to meet the needs of different employees (e.g. which medium for which message).
  • Overcoming the challenges of using social media in multinational organizations.
  • Different social media platforms for different environments.
  • Case studies examples from leading companies

Have you read an article, seen a presentation, etc. that you felt was particularly valuable?  If so, I would love to hear about them via the comments!

I am going to start posting a roundup each week that points out interesting articles/blog posts I’ve run across over the week.  I hope you find them useful.  Here goes:

Step Two Design’s James Robinson provided a great post on their Column Two blog, titled Where to start with a SharePoint intranet.  He discusses the importance of having a good understanding of what SharePoint can do as well as having a “crystal clear vision and direction”.  I think we’ve all heard the stories about firms who started using SharePoint without understanding what they were getting into and then found themselves spending more money on development than planned.

Mark Morrell’s post, 5 simple ways to benchmark your intranet provides a variety of ideas of how to determine if your intranet is doing what it should.  How does it compare to other law firm intranets (or corporate intranets for that matter)?  His 5th idea speaks to having an expert review or audit done by a third-party.

Jeff Hester reminds us that Knowledge Management is Not a Software Solution in his blog post on Jeff Hester.net.  I tend to think of an intranet as a tool for managing and sharing knowledge (if done right).  I also subscribe to the idea that knowledge management is governed by the 80/20 rule – 80% people and 20% technology.  That doesn’t mean that we need to use less technology.  We need to spend more time focusing on the people it serves.

Murali Sitaram’s post on GIGAOM, Social Tools: Helping People Share What They Know, describes the use of social network or Enterprise 2.0 tools within an organization.  The post focuses on knowledge transfer when onboarding a new employee and the importance of sharing what is known by employees long before they retire.   He also speaks to engaging employees for better adoption of the use of these tools.

If you read an article or blog post that you found especially interesting this week, please post it using the comments feature.

Have a great weekend!

This is Part 8 of the “What Functionality and Content Should I Add to My Intranet” series.  To view previous parts of the series, click on Series link listed under pages on the right or use the link in the first sentence.

In my last post, I covered law firm intranet content for administrative department pages.  This part of the series will focus on content for internal users of practice group and administrative department pages.  The next post – Part 9 will focus on Research Pages/Portals.

Goals & Intended Outcomes

In a business focused on making money, the creation of an intranet should be based on a goal to increase productivity while decreasing or containing expenses with the outcome of improving revenue.  To reach that goal, the intranet’s functionality and content improves:

  • Business processes
  • Communication
  • Information access

and, in the end, delivery of services to clients.

Strategy

To date, the strategy for the creation of intranets in law firms has generally been focused on firm-wide initiatives that will make those improvements (e.g., supporting new client/matter intake).  Administrative department pages went a step further in marketing their services/support to the rest of the firm.  In recent years, some firms have begun to work more on practice pages but, in many cases, their focus has been on the marketing of practice groups/areas to the firm.  

To be clear, our strategies have focused on communication and have dabbled with improving business processes and  information access but we have a way to go.  To achieve the goal  described above, firms and their intranet teams will need to focus on processes, communication and information used by internal members of each practice group and administrative department. 

In a sense, what is needed is an intranet within an intranet. 

Outcomes

What would that look like?  Here are some ideas in the case of an admin department, let’s say IT.

 Click on image to view it in a larger format.

In this example, I created a wire frame (using IntranetFactory Modeler – a free SharePoint tool) that included links to other pages, links to bookmarks, the latest posts of an internal blog (internal to IT), announcements, and the IT calendar.  The links to other pages include some that need no explanation – policies, procedures, projects, and others that may not be so easy to determine the content. 

The Network, Help  Desk and App Support team pages are used by those teams to support their work.  As an example, the following image of the Help Desk Team Page, has the same navigation as the IT Department home page as well as a quick launch web part to give team members quick access to their most often used web apps, the help desk request que, a chart with the % of open requests by priority,  and frequently asked questions the team receives.  If you were able to scroll down, you would also see a web part for the teams knowledge base.

Click on image to view it in a larger format.

While this is an example of an administrative departments internal pages, it should give you an idea of what to include on practice pages as well.  Anything the practice group, area, team, etc.  thinks would support its work or requests during your user needs assessment.  For example, a practice area page might include:

Contacts, projects, forms, most often used DMS documents by practice area members, open matters, calendar, who’s an expert in what, etc.  Anything that is important to the practice area (within reason). 

A caveat:  If you get requests for content/functionality that may be used by other departments, groups, etc., you have a decision to make.  Do you treat it as a one-off or do you take a step back and decide if what they are asking for might be a firm-wide, office-wide, etc. initiative.  If you have a strategy in place regarding how this will be handled before it comes up, the decision and how you communicate it back to the group will be much easier.  If you went one step further during planning and conducted a thorough user needs assessment before starting to code, you would have fewer decisions altogether. 

NOTE:  IntranetFactory looks like an interesting product.  The modeler is offered at no charge along with a lite version of a product called SharePoint Works which IntranetFactory says can convert the wire frame into a SharePoint site.  A more full featured commercial version of Works is available as well, along with a commercial version that includes all of the products.




  • kiiac
  • Purchase Creating a Successful Law Firm Intranet




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