Why you should use Sharepoint 2010

I'm not a huge fan of Sharepoint, having used it in the last organisation I worked for I wasn't impressed with the out of the box product. However it would seem that Sharepoint 2010 has some new features that make it more appealing to Law Firms.

I'm not going to list them here, instead I recommend looking at the following resources for more information on Sharepoint 2010:

Based on this I'm still not sure whether I'd want to use Sharepoint 2010 to build wikis but it certainly appears that progress has been made.

Factors for the success of Wikis

The Atlassian confluence blog has published the first of a series of post looking at some of the factors that determing whether the implementation of a wiki will be successful or not. In this first post called "Technology is important but not King" the author looks at the challenges technology poses.

The first point the author makes is that the Technological challenge is often over-complicated writing that "...these technology factors are only about one-third of the equation for a successful Wiki introduction"

As the author says it is still important to bear in mind a number of issues, including the following:

  • Choosing the right wiki software - obvious yes but crucial to the success of any wiki project. Choose the wrong product and you're going to end up with a wiki that no one is going to use.
  • System operation - you need to decide early on whether you want your wiki to be hosted externally, from your own PC or internally hosted. For most companies the latter will be the obvious choice
  • Technology infrastructure in the company - put simply this is about checking whether your infrastructure can support the wiki e.g. if you're using IE6 and it's not compatible with the product
  • Integration and Single Sign On (SSO) - I cant stress how important this! if you don't have SSO you'll just presenting users with another username and password they have to enter.
  • The position of the Wiki software in relationship to other systems - it's really important to think about how the wiki will interact with other systems, will users be able to push content to the wiki and vice-versa.
  • Evaluation of Plugins - there are a huge number of plugins available for a product like Confluence but it's important to remember that they're not all stable so thorough evaluation is required before installing them. Once they're installed their use should be documented as future upgrades of the wiki software may affect their performance.

A great post on some of the really important issues to think about when purchasing and using wiki software.

Atlassian User Group (AUG) London

A few weeks ago I attended the Atlassian London User Group. This was the first time I'd attended an Atlassian User Group so wasn't quite sure what to expect. One of the highlights of the afternoon had to be the free t-shirt all atendees were given, sadly having searched flickr my exact t-shirt isn't displayed by the picture here is similar...

The event, which was jointly run by Headshift and Adaptavist was held at the Royal Horticultural Halls & Conference Centre in South West London, this brought back a few memories as my parents used to display plants in the halls once upon a time. Anyway back to the event, the first part of the afternoon was devoted to case studies from three organisations; the first was from Headshift themselves and looked at the "Business uses of social tools" I've embedded the presentation below.

The second presentation was from Steve Perry (ex-Freshfields) called "Introducing a social intranet at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer" Steve talked about how Freshfields were using Confluence as their intranet as well as some of the issues he encountered and best practices he developed during his time their. This for me was the most interesting presentation as some of the issues Steve mentioned were similar to ones I'm experiencing in my own organisation so it was great to take away some tips on how to encourage and increase adoption of Confluence.

Introducing a social intranet at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

The final presentation was called "South Central PCT Alliance doing it the wiki-way" and looked at how the South Central Primary Care Trust is using Confluence. After the presentations there was a chance to ask a panel questions about how they thought Confluence could be used and was being used in their organisations. Overall a very good afternoon spent learning how different organisations were using Confluence and an opportunity to ask some Confluence experts some questions.

Overall this was a really worthwhile event, especially as I now rather sadly wear my Atlassian t-shirt all the time! roll on next year.

You cant force me to do it!

I enjoyed reading a recent post on the Jack Vinson blog called "You cant make me do it" in the post Jack links to a Tweet from Euan Semple which I've published in full below:

"no matter what you are trying to achieve social media adoption happens one person at a time and for their reasons not yours"

Jack goes on to explain what this means"...if you really want this "social media thing" to be a way of working, then each person needs to pick up the tools and figure out how the tools make sense for THEM"

I absolutely agree with this, you can do all the training and demonstrations in the world, but at the end of day someone is only going to use a social media tool if they have a good reason. That might because it has become part of their workflow or because it's the best way to share knowledge, either way there has to be something that makes them want to use the social media tool your're implementing.
Some very good advice in Jack's post, which is well worth reviewing.

Will Law Libraries ever be the same again?

Yesterday brought some very interesting news from CMS Cameron McKenna. As reported in Legal Week and The Lawyer. Cameron McKenna have signed a deal with Integreon (the global outsourcing company) which will see ALL support services outsourced to Integreon.

That Cameron McKenna is outsourcing their support services isn't surprising given that most Law Firms have outsourced some element of their support services in the last couple of years. The surprise is the scale of the outsourcing, which will affect ALL support services, including Knowledge Management and Library Services. According to the report in the Lawyer, Cameron McKenna will sub-let one of the floors of their main office to provide accomodation for outsourced staff.

So what are the implications for Law Libraries? Well this certainly sets a precedents in terms of both the size and number of staff being outsourced and the fact that Cameron McKenna are based in London provides Integreon with a "base of operations" in the capital from which they can sell their services to other London based Law Firms.

As most Law Librarians are aware Library Services from a number of Law Firms have already outsourced their work to Integreon, these firms include Osborne Clarke, Beachcroft and TLT Solicitors. Although strategically this makes a lot of sense for Cameron McKenna, for Law Librarians it will be deeply worryingly and may well be the start of trend which sees more London based Law Firms adopt this approach for their support services.

Only time will tell.

Can internal social networks help law firms?

This is the question Lars Plougmann of Headshift is asked in this short (3 minute) video, filmed at the Legal IT show earlier this year.

Essentially internal "social networks" gives users more control and choice about the information they receive. For example rather then having emails sent to them, users can choose whether they want to subscribe to particular sources of information for example conflict checking emails, advertisements, annoucements etc* This can help users manage their time more effectively as they wont be managing emails to the same extent.

There are several other examples detailed by Lars in his post on the Headshift blog.

*These are not examples gives by Lars in his interview.

How effective is your intranet in an emergency?

I haven't ever really posted much about Intranets on this blog, but that will probably change as a lot of my work is involved around managing an Intranet.

So given the recent issues with volcanoes the UK has been experiencing the following blog post called "How effective is your Intranet in an emergency" caught my eye.

From the blog post "You never know when an emergency may strike so the best preparation is careful assessment and planning of systems and strategies that can be used to minimize the effect of the emergency. As people are rarely in the place they expect to be during an emergency, the intranet can play a key role in ensuring that employees have access to the information they need to be able to step in for their co-workers"

There is some sound advice in this blog post and I recommend reading the full article by Martin White called "Intranet support for emergency planning - the air flight ban in Europe"

Sharepoint explained

For anyone who hasn't come across Sharepoint yet, the video below is a good introduction to this application and some of its functionality.

Increasingly Sharepoint is becoming the application of choice for Law Firms when they think about how they can improve collaboration and the ease with which users can create and publish content.

Librarians vs Knowledge Managers

There has been a lot of discussion in the last week in relation to a post published on the ExplodedLibrary.info blog in the blog post called "reflection on KM and libraries in law firms" the author writes about their experiences of libraries that have been managed by Knowledge Management teams. The blog post raised some interesting points, which have been picked up by a number of other bloggers incluing Mary Abraham in her post "Librarians vs Knowledge Managers" in the 3Geeks and Law blog post "Libraries and KM, cant we all just get along" Musings on the Librarian’s Role in Knowledge Management in Law Firms from the Strategic Librarian blog and Knowledge Managers, Librarians, Practice Support, and Business Analysis from the Strategic Legal Technology blog

I don't completely agree with the points raised in the original post, but I cant see how Libraries can be perceived as second class if they're being run by Knowledge Management departments, having said that in both the law firms I've worked for the Libraries have been part of the Knowledge Management team and have "ultimately" been managed by a Knowledge Manager/Knowledge Director rather then a Library Manager. Something else the post made me think about is whether Law Librarians are all actually Knowledge Managers, generally individuals who work in Libraries will manage Knowledge to a degree so is this really a case of a mountain being made out of a molehill? or is that too much of a simplified view of an issue that seems to be quite controversial!

How BT uses social media with internal communication

This is an interesting post from Mark Morrell, which demonstrates how BT are currently using Social Media to present internal communications.

There are 4 different tools shown in this presentation:

- BT Today (Intranet)
- Blog central (Blogs)
- BT Pedia (Wiki pages)
- Podcast central (Podcasting)

This is a really interesting presentation, which is well worth reviewing.