Archive for the ‘Strategy’ 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!


Just in time for holiday reading, NetStrategy/JMC has released intranet expert Jane McConnell’s Global Intranet Trends 2011.  Two buying options, including the report alone or the report with a 60-90 minute briefing with the author.  This report is a great read if you are doing any strategic planning for your intranet.  To get an idea of the contents of the report I downloaded the Full Sample  (PDF, 1.3 MB) which includes the executive summary with table of contents, sample pages and information about the author.

The report is divided into 3 sections:

  • 5 megatrends affecting intranets today
  • The impact of social media
  • The 2 key challenges facing digital teams in 2011

The 5 megatrends she focuses on are the intranet as:

  • The front door into the workplace
  • Team-oriented
  • People-focused
  • Real-time
  • Place-Independent

The 2 key challenges are:

  • Governance and engaging stakeholders
  • Facilitating the the social dimension

There are few (if any) law firms that participated in the report but I’ve found I can always learn from any intranet I look at or read about.  More information is included in the executive summary, etc. about all of the points above or you can jump in and buy the report now.

This is the second of a series on law firm intranet functionality and content.  See Part 1: Scope.

Before you start developing your intranet, you will need a blueprint.  Imagine building a house without one?  Your intranet is no different – you need a plan before starting to develop the site.  Defining the  site architecture for your intranet is the foundation upon which you begin.  What is site architecture and what has been most prevalent in law firms?

Intranet content in a  law firm is there to support the firm’s business goals.  To ensure that the content is what the firm needs and that lawyers and staff can get to what they need in a productive manner, a good structure should be in place.  This structure is most often referred to as the information or site architecture.  Think of it as the framework that supports your intranet’s content.

Using the firm’s business goals as the starting point, keeps everyone thinking in terms of what is needed to move those goals ahead and, in the end,  increase  productivity.  When this isn’t done, the architecture design becomes more of a political struggle with many competing to have their content at the top-level than an exercise that ensures a success structure for the content.

Again, this exercise should not be done in isolation by one department, but by a cross-functional team that represents the business.

Most of the firms we’ve talked to want to provide access to information on the intranet first on a broad level, and then, in some cases, a personalized level.  A good strategy to do this is to start by creating your intranets site map.  That may sound backwards but it does work.

How are  most firm’s intranets organized?  Using an organizational site structure. In other words, mimicking how the firm is organized.  The top-level menu with drop down choices might look like this:

Click on image for a larger view

While this seems to make sense and is most widespread in use, there are issues in using this type of architecture.  The most import is that the structure is very limiting.  You will find that once you start adding content, that not everything fits within the structure.

This means that you will need to get creative about where you add content and that generally means that content starts to be added in places where users won’t find it.  Your intranet could eventually come messy in structure and unusable.  Think of how houses look when they’ve been added to over and over again.  The outside isn’t pretty and in inside isn’t as functional as those houses that were built from a good design.

There are some firms that have gone down the avenue of structuring there intranet using a task-based architecture.  The top navigation menu with drop down choices may look like this:

Click on image for a larger view

This is a very simplistic view of a task based structure but it should provide some idea of how it would work.  It too has some limitations but if thought through completely with a lot of imagination, it might work better than the organizationally based intranet.  I think there is one more structure that might work better than both of these.

That structure would be a combination of both structures described above.  More about that in my next post.


  • kiiac
  • Purchase Creating a Successful Law Firm Intranet

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