SharePoint: An Intranet Manager Perspective

What's going to be a hot topic for Intranet managers in 2011? You guessed it SharePoint 2010, this is unsurprisingly the theme of Martin White's article on the CMS Wire blog.

So what's so great about SharePoint 2010 that is making people look twice at is a tool for collaboration and for managing an Intranet. "The answer...a substantially improved development platform which in principle addressed many of the concerns around SharePoint 2007. Not only has search substantially improved but of course so has the collaboration offering, and for intranet managers the metadata management functionality also offers some important benefits"

The article then looks at some of the pressures to migrate as well as some of the issues associated with moving from a CMS to SharePoint 2010. These include resourcing, governance and issues with the SharePoint search. If you're an Intranet manager, which you might well be if you're reading this blog, or just interested in SharePoint 2010 then Martin's article goes some way to understanding some of the issues involved.

Tweet for your life!

"Businesses need to start taking Web 2.0 seriously if they are to join the bigger conversation" is the theme of this article from the CBR Online.

In it the author discusses how businesses are finally beginning to see the value of using tools like Twitter as part of their IT Strategy. The article also looks at how Social Media tools are being used to "optimise internal communication" Clifford Chance for example "are using this approach to share advice and comment on big cases"

The role of a Corporate Intranet is also discussed briefly, amongst the bad news there is some good news for anyone who manages an Intranet currently; corporate Intranets "need to be supplemented by more open, social network tools, Document management and portals don't go away, but their roles will change"

This is an interesting article, with comments from insiders aka vendors and two case studies of how companies are using Social Media tools to foster collaboration (Webtrends) and engage with their customers (Asigra)

[Photo - Carrot Creative]

Practical applications of Web 2.0 in Law Libraries

Connie Crosby has prepared another excellent presentation using Prezi. If you've not seen Prezi used before you should definitely take a look at Connie's presentation.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to embed the presentation here, so head on over to Connie's blog or Prezi itself to view the presentation.

First off Connie looks at what Web 2.0 means, then at some examples of Web 2.0 being used in Law Libraries, these include Blogs, Wikis, Twitter, Video and Podcasts before explaining why it's important to both use Web 2.0 technologies and to understand at least to some degree how they work. Overall this is an excellent presentation which highlights some useful resources for anyone working in the legal sector.

[Photo - Ben Sheldon]

Cloud Computing in Libraries

Do you know the difference between SaaS, Paas and Iaas? no, well you'd better have a look at Ellyssa Kroski's excellent introduction to how Cloud Computing is being used by Libraries. In it she looks at how Libraries are and could be using Cloud Computing services and explains the differences between SaaS, Paas and Iaas.

What's most surprising is how many services I use regularly are already based in the Cloud. This really is the future and as such we should embrace it!

Social Media inside the Enterprise

No I'm not talking about Star Trek before anyone gets too excited. This is actually the title of an excellent looking talk by Connie Crosby at the recent KM World Conference.

In the presentation Connie looks at how Blogs, Wikis, Video and Microblogging tools are being used. There is a lot of really useful content and resources detailed in the presentation. So I heartily recommend everyone have a look at the slides if you haven't done so already. I've embedded the slides below or you can access them from Slideshare itself.

Social Media and the workplace

The folks at Commoncraft have done it again with another excellent video. In their latest video they look at how the world of external company communications has changed thanks to social media.

Key points include:

  • Companies need to think of new ways to understand and react to what is being said "socially"
  • How companies can confront a "social" crisis
  • The role of policies and guidelines
  • How companies can add value and build trust using Social Media

[Photo credit Martin Diller from FlickR]

Using Social Media to drive innovation

Almost exactly two weeks ago I spoke at Online Information. I was a little bit nervous as I hadn't spoken at Online for a couple of years. I needn't have worried though as the audience seemed very "pleased" with my presentation. I got some great feedback from the individuals who came and talked to me afterwards and I've even had two requests to write posts for others sites/blogs.

Anyway have a look at the presentation. I'm happy to answer any questions you might have on why I think Social Media can drive innovation and if you don't believe me have a look at a blog post called "Innovation needs to be social" which looks into even more detail about how Social Networking can support the innovation process.

What stuff should I add to my Intranet?

Nina Platt of the Strategic Librarian blog has written an excellent series of posts asking "What functionality and content should I add to my Intranet" this is like opening up a can of worms to a hungry school of worm eating fish. But it made me think about our Intranet and how we could make it more useful and perhaps more interesting.

In Part 1 of her series Nina looks at what you need to consider when scoping the Intranet. Generally when looking at developing at Intranet you'll be tying its goals into the firms goals so the following questions should help you understand what you're trying to achieve.

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

However you might have more specific goals like:

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

In Part 2 Nina looks at an Intranets "Information Architecture" outlining two ways in which Intranets within law firms are organised. A traditional approach is to organise an Intranet so that it mimics the firms structure for example Business Services would be a menu option followed by Facilities, Finance, Marketing, Knowledge etc etc.

An alternative approach and something I haven't seen yet is to organise the Intranet around tasks so if you were to click on the menu heading Research you would then be presented with a list of tasks you might want to undertake, for example Search Westlaw, Search LexisNexis, Find a book, Ask a question etc etc.

As Nina indicates this might be a better way to organise an Intranet or a combination of this and the organisational structure might work well. In Part 3 Nina describes how a combination of tasks and organisational structure works in practice refering to the award winning Intranet of Law Firm Bennet Jones this uses a task and organisational based structure to present information to users. As Nina suggest is sounds "messy" but looking at some of the examples Nina has provided I can see how that might work well in practice.

Ultimately at the heart of any Intranet structure is the ability for users to find information quickly and easily or to perform a task, ensuring your Intranet performs this function will ensure it is well valued.

The Social Intranet

Heather Colman has written an excellent write up of her attendance at the Social Intranet conference. In her blog post "The Social Intranet"Heather outlines some of the key learnings from the conference.

If you've not come across the term "Social Intranet" before Heather defines this term in her blog post "What is social Intranet software? According to the experts, social Intranet software combines traditional Intranet elements with social collaboration features such as “rich user profiles, activity streams, discussion forums, wiki and blog capabilities,” micro blogging, etc. Social Intranets result in user generated content where updating responsibility is moved to a decentralized, open model"

As Heather suggests giving up control can be quite a scary process for an organisation, but my feeling is that doing so engages individuals with the Intranet more. If people know they're responsible for a particular page or section and they know they have to do it, they're more likely to update it. It also moves eases the burden of work away from the central Intranet team, allowing them to work on developments to the Intranet, rather then then editing of content.

This sounds like it was a really interesting conference. You can if you really want to purchase all the presentations as webinar recordings and listen to them at your leisure - enjoy!

Legal Know-How: Organisation & Semantic Analysis

Last week I attended an ISKO event called, you'll never guess what, "Legal Know-How: Organisation & Semantic Analysis" I'd never been to an ISKO event before so I was unprepared to see so many faces I actually knew. I shouldn't have been surprised though as this was a legal know-how event and had presentations from 2 law firms.

Anyway the event kicked off with Melanie Farquharson of 3Kites Consulting talking about some of the problems with finding knowledge in a law firm.

Legal Knowledge – the practitioner’s viewpoint (Melanie Farquharson, 3Kites Consulting)

Melanie set the scene for the afternoon by talking about how law firms are in the business of selling knowledge & that knowledge is at the heart of what law firms do. Rather surprisingly according to Melanie law firms only just appear to have realised this.

Melanie then described how the concept of knowledge has moved on from standard documents and templates towards who knows what and how much should I be charging this client. Melanie emphasised that it’s important to think about the wider concept/application of knowledge and outlined a number of scenarios where Knowledge was sought. These scenarios all had one thing in common, that knowledge can be difficult to find, especially if you’re suffering from what Melanie described as the Sunday afternoon syndrome e.g. you’re at home on a Sunday afternoon about to throw your PC out a window because you cant find what you're looking for.

Melanie outlined a few of the problems associated with finding knowledge, the biggest one was that Knowledge will exist within multiple systems, some will be online, some might be hard copy and often the knowledge will exist in a system provided by a third party. In all cases these systems will require training and each system will have its own complexities, obscurities and classifications. All these issues combined lead to “Know Where” a situation where someone has to know where to look for information before they even start trying to find it.

Melanie then went on to describe some of the ways to resolve these issues. These included linking classifications together, having simple intuitive “Google like” access to products and having Knowledge “delivered” as they’re working. For example if a fee-earner is creating a document a solution could look at the document title and contents and present other documents/resources which closely match it. This avoids a fee-earner having to move away from the document to search for other knowledge.

Why lawyers need taxonomies – Adventures in organising legal knowledge (Kathy Jacob & Lynley Barker, Pinsent Masons LLP)

…or as Kathy also described the session “Why you need to name your kids trousers”... was the second session of the day and was a really interesting session where Kathy and Lynley described how they manage Knowledge and Knowledge Projects at Pinsent Masons.

In the session Kathy and Lynley described 3 projects, a Matter centricity project, their Intranet/Portal project and their Enterprise Search project. All 3 of the projects use a Firmwide vocabulary to organise content so it was the creation and governance of this vocabulary that was discussed in some detail. At Pinsent Masons they have a multilayered approach to Governance with Partner Sponsors, Senior Professional Support Lawyers, IT Programme Managers as well as individual groups for each of the projects involved in the maintenance of the vocabulary.

Lynley Barkley went on to describe the evolution of their vocabularies from “chaotic” to consolidated and outlined some of the lessons they’d learnt as part of the vocabulary building process. These included engaging a taxonomist, or Information Architect, communicating clearly and regularly with the business, very important if you’re going to encourage them to use the terms contained within the vocabulary and finally that you don’t necessarily need to be a subject expert, just a very good listener and perhaps more importantly arbitrator!

Lynley then outlined the next phases of the vocabulary project which included developing social tagging and folksonomies, which would take account of individual perspectives and would make the vocabulary even more useful. Lynley also briefly discussed how they were looking at SharePoint as an opportunity to tag matters and as a way to merge social tagging with controlled vocabularies.

It was interesting to see how Pinsent Masons had developed their vocabulary from its original form to what it is now, like most taxonomies it’s constantly evolving as the requirements of the individuals that use it change.

Taxonomy management at Clifford Chance (Mats Bergman, Clifford Chance)

In the next session the attendees heard from Mats Bergman at Clifford Chance. Mats talked about how he manages the Taxonomies that Clifford Chance have in place, but before he discussed what they have and how they’re used he emphasised the support the taxonomies have.

This support comes from the Knowledge Committee which includes Partners, the COO, the CIO and the Director of Knowledge Systems. Mats also described how the use of their taxonomy fits with the firm’s strategy and some of the benefits of using taxonomies to tag content across multiple content sources.

Mats then went on to describe how there are a number of taxonomies used across the Knowledge Systems available at Clifford Chance each of them will have a different owner and many different parties will be involved in their maintenance. These taxonomies are reviewed regularly to take account of requirements, however their updating is controlled by having a single point of contact who where possible makes a decision about requests for new term of refers the decision on to the Knowledge committee.

It was really interesting to see how Taxonomies worked at Clifford Chance, although it definitely looked like it was a full time job managing them!

Collaboration across boundaries (Gwenda Sippings & Gerards Bredenoord, Linklaters LLP)

The final session of the day (for me) was run by Gwenda Sippings and Gerards Bredenoord of Linklaters LLP. The session began with Gwenda describing some of the challenges their users face in finding information, ultimately this is because their clients have become more demanding so in some case they’re looking for more than just legal advice.

Gwenda then outlined some of the issues Linklaters face in terms of collaboration. These included an individual’s location, the language they speak, whether they’re looking for Civil or Common Law, whether the information is about a stable or developing country and the potential number of time zones involved. All of which can make finding information difficult.

At this point Gerards Bredenoord took over, Gerards looked at three solutions that employees at Linklaters have access to, their Intranet/Portal, their Enterprise Search and a suite of Management/Reporting tools. Gerards described the Intranet as being the “one place to search” that is the Intranet offers a full text search over “curated” legal knowledge with a specialist search for client related knowledge.

Interestingly Linklaters use categories to organise their Intranet, which means users have to think about where a page might fit within a category heading and navigate to it. This had two benefits the major one being that the number of pages on the Intranet was kept to a minimum; Linklaters use this as a measure of how successful the Intranet is and are proactively moving towards less rather then more pages on the Intranet. Using categories as a way to organise Intranet content is an interesting concept, my feeling is you’d need to somehow manipulate the categories or content so that the pages displayed under the correct headings, also presumably you’d need to manipulate the categories so that content appeared on the Intranet homepage.

Gerard then went on to describe the search tools they’re using at Linklaters and some of the issues they’ve faced. These included that out of the box search tools are only good to a certain degree and will all require some degree of customisation. There are also issues around search tools not being able to interpret what an individual is looking for because of the number of variables involved. This can make using Enterprise search tools risky.

This presentation was a really interesting way to finish up (for me at least) what was a very interesting and useful day. I'd certainly attend an ISKO event again and might even consider becoming a member! If you want to read even more about the day there is a brief report of the event on the ISKO blog and a much fuller description of the sessions on the ISKO website. The slides from each of the presentations are also available on the ISKO website.

Intranets with great usability

Communitelligence have released their Intranet Design Annual for 2010, in it are a list of best practice areas for making Intranets even better then they already are! They've included a list of these "best practice areas" on their blog for all to see.

There aren't many surprises here with Mobile solutions, web 2.0 and social features ranking highly, go take a look and see what you think.

Information as Strategic Asset

Two weeks ago I attended the Solcara organised event “Information as a Strategic Asset” this was hosted by MacFarlanes and featured speakers from 3 different law firms, MacFarlanes, Pinsent Masons and Allen & Overy.

Following an introduction from Rob Martin, Solcara’s Managing Director, Sally Roberts from MacFarlanes described how and why they chose to implement Solcara. For those not familiar with the Solcara search product I recommend having a look at Solcara’s website.

For those people who don’t want to navigate away from this blog post, in a nutshell Solcara’s product enables federated searching within an organisation. What this means in practice is that you can point Solcara at a website or an application, typically LexisNexis or Westlaw, enter a search term and Solcara will federate (display) the search results within your search application/intranet. The difference between this and Recommind is that with Recommind’s search product you can do clever things with rankings and search results whereas with the Solcara product you’re returning the same search results as the native application (LexisNexis, Westlaw etc)

Getting back to Sally’s presentation she outlined some of MacFarlanes motivations to install Solcara search, these included the number of resources that were available to fee-earners and the demands of new fee-earners who almost expect there to be a Google like search tool available. Sally then outlined some of the technical challenges they faced as part of the project, these included the speed of the new application, customisations they need to apply, interface issues, new and improved functionality and whether the new application would make sense to users. Sally then outlined some of the benefits of using Solcara; these included having one search box for everything, users not having to make too many decisions and the ability to choose preferred sources to search across. Finally Sally outlined MacFarlanes future plans for the Solcara search product these include more customisations, fine tuning the integration points, improvements to the user interface, embedding the search within other applications and looking at what Social Media tools they could integrate within the search application.

From my perspective this was the most interesting presentation but I feel duty bound to provide a summary of the other two. The second presentation was from Kathy Jacobs of Pinsent Masons, in a nutshell Kathy looked at some of the reasons why Legal Information is so costly, namely its authority, its currency and the fact that products provide by legal information suppliers are unique.

Kathy also spoke about how measuring usage of a product was crucial both to understand how the product is being used and how but also to ascertain who the heavy users and what they’re doing. It was interesting to see that Pinsent Masons are using Research Monitor as this is a product I’ve used previously.

The final presentation was from Sarah Fahy of Allen & Overy. Sarah spoke at some length about Allen & Overy’s experience of negotiating with content providers. Sarah also discussed with the audience some of the internal challenges they’ve faced when budgeting for online products namely whose budget the product is going to be charged to and who knows what products are best for particular users.

Sarah also had some good advice on deciding whether or not to renew a product, suggesting that all products should have a champion. This champion would outline the reasons behind maintaining/renewing a product and would be the first point of contact when it came to negotiating a new price for the product.

After the presentations there was a brief session were attendees could ask the presenters questions, this was followed by the most important part of the evening, drinks and networking. This was a very well attended and certainly worthwhile event to attend. Sally’s presentation was particularly interesting and I hope to see more of what MacFarlanes have done with their Intranet and search application in the near future.

Wikis v SharePoint

Should you use a Wiki or SharePoint to collaborate within your organisation? This is the question asked in this excellent blog post which I saw in Google Reader.

In the post the author compares some of the features of a wiki specifically Confluence with SharePoint. I love the idea of a wiki as a note pad that is a tool that is "open, ad-hoc authoring, pre-process, pre-agreements, pre-editing" compare that to SharePoint which the author describes as a book "formal, post-agreement, edited, published"

The author then describes some of the potential pitfalls or issues with using SharePoint in preference to other tools. The biggest of these has to be the Control vs. ad-hoc content creation issue. There is no doubt that collaborative tools like Wikis and especially Confluence which is the wiki the author compares to SharePoint allow for the creation of content both easily and quickly. Unfortunately for some organisations this will cause some concern hence why we're seeing many choose SharePoint in preference to other collaborative tools.

To conclude, the author describes how he sees Wikis sitting alongside SharePoint "think that’s how Confluence is positioning itself in a Sharepoint world – wikis give people an unstructured ‘scratch pad’, and this casual, early-stage idea environment can be effectively coupled with the more controlled, structured file/process/workflow management of SharePoint"

This is a great post which is well worth reading.

Measuring the rights things!

Jack Vinson on his blog Knowledge Jolt references a very interesting article called "The problem with metrics" in this blog post the author who is a numbers guy (I'm not sure I should admit to being a numbers guy but I probably am) looks at well...the problems with metrics..

Now we all know that there are problems with collecting metrics or statistics so is was refreshing to read a concise article on the problems with metrics and to some degree how to resolve them. Here they are:

  • Don’t mistake metrics for what we’re actually trying to measure: metrics are proxies – especially if we are trying to measure something abstract like innovation, or the quality of universities. So don’t get too hung up on your metrics – concentrate on your overall goal.
  • Align metrics with strategy: no one really wants twitter followers. You want something else – influence, or interaction, or something that one way or another actually does you some good. The interim steps are important, but don’t only measure these. You also need to figure out a way to measure the outcomes of your strategy.
  • Use multiple measures of success: this follows from the first two points. Most of the things that we really care about are hard to actually measure. If we are going to try, we need to use multiple measures so that we can triangulate on our desired objectives.

Working collaboratively means a new way of working...

James Robertson of Step two Designs has written an excellent article on how the new breed of Collaboration tools will require staff to work differently.

James explains the problem in more detail in his post Collaboration tools require new ways of working:

  • "these are deeply unfamiliar tools for most “normal” staff (ie not us). They are not drop-in replacements for our old ways of working, and require different behaviours and ways of thinking.It is therefore strange to see so many organisations rolling out these tools with little or no training or support. In many cases, there isn’t even an announcement heralding the release of these new tools, with adoption left to organic growth through word-of-mouth"

So much of what James says in his blog post rings true with me and the organisations I've worked in. So what can we do to avoid some of the issues highlighted in the blog post? Most important according to the article is Communication and Support it really is about being there to answer their questions and to make individuals use of these tools more effective.

A great post - which I'm sure I'll be referring to in the future!

What every LIS pro must know about SEO

If you haven't read it already I thoroughly recommend you read the Q&A with Shari Thurow on the Library & Information Update blog. In the blog post Shari provides excellent definitions of Search Engine Optmization (SEO) and Information Architecture (IA) her definition of SEO is as follows:

  • SEO is the abbreviation for search engine optimisation (or optimization). On the Web, search engine optimisation is commonly viewed as the process of optimising a website for people who use search engines.

Shari also provides a more detailed definition of IA, which I'm not going to reproduce here as you can read it on full on the blog post or on the Semantic Studios website

This is a concise blog post but I'm looking forward to Part 2!

Managing personal change

We're in a time of massive change both within our professional and perhaps more significantly across the country. The question is how can Library professionals deal with/manange change effectively and what are the most important skills you need to foster in order to deal with change?

Roy Tennant's article in the Library Journal Digital Libraries column posts his thoughts about how Library professionals should approach change. He makes some interesting points, of which my favourites are:

  • Don’t be afraid of forgetting. These days you don’t need to remember very much. You can look everything else up on the Internet. And in the age of the smartphone and tablet devices, you can often do this at times where you never could before.

  • Don’t blindly embrace the new. Not every technology that comes down the pike is worth your time and attention. It may be worth enough time to assess it, but don’t think just because it is new and shiny that it should be immediately embraced.

  • Look forward. Ever, ever, look forward. Because that is the present you will soon inhabit. Because that is the force that will shape your life — with or without your permission or acquiescence. Because that is what you hope to make better
Via the iLibrarian

Integrating applications into the Intranet

This is something I'm thinking about right now so it was interesting to read Catherine Grenfell's blog post called "Integreating applications into the intranet" on the Step Two Designs blog.

Right from the outset Catherine highlights the most important thing to remember when integrating an application into the Internet, that is that the experience for staff should be "seamless" Staff don't want to have to worry about where the application sits or exists, they just need to know that it sits somewhere within the Intranet and that they can access it easily and of course seamlessly.

Catherine goes on to look at the different types of "applications" from Embedded applications which might appears as part of the Intranet in both design and appearance, Unique applications, which will appear different from the Intranet in design and appearance and External applications, which are usually systems which are sourced externally but might be broadly branding to match the organisations branding. How well you can integrate these types of applications ultimately depends on the CMS or WCMS you're using.

Catherine then goes on to outline some of the basics around integrating applications within the Intranet, touching on the Intranet homepage, which is a contentious issue the world over!! Catherine also mentions collaboration and social tools which as Catherine writes "...has made it less clear to staff where the intranet starts and ends"

This is a really interesting which provides a good introduction to how intranet links should be organised by Intranet teams.

Should intranet links open in a new window?

I'm a fan of James Robertson and his website Column Two so it was with interest I read his latest blog post on whether Intranet links should open in new windows James' post follows an interesting discussion on the Intranet Professionals groups on LinkedIn which if you're involved in managing an Intranet and haven't joined yet I thoroughly recommend you do.

In his blog post James outlines the many possibilities for opening windows on an Intranet and the benefits/usability challenges or adopting one approach in preference to another.

James sums up the approach which I believe most Intranet Managers will want to take which is "If in doubt, keep it simple, and err on the side of fewer new windows and tabs rather than more"

Keeping track of your passwords!

What I'd really like is seamless access (authenticated access) to every single website I need to log on to. In lieu of that I guess I'll have to use a password management tool like one of the ones listed in this very useful article from My Life Scoop.

In the article the author discusses the benefits of using 5 tools, they are;

There is another nice list of ways to keep your password secure at 10 Free ways to track all your passwords.

Enterprise 2.0 and Information Professionals – a perfect match?

In the latest blog post on the Information Matters blog Martin De Saulles writes about the "close match between the core skills of library and information professionals and the core elements required to effectively deploy Web 2.0 and social media in the organisation" in his post he uses the diagram I've reproduced on this page to demonstrate how the elements of Enterprise 2.0 can be matched closely to the work of Information Professionals and asks "I am being too simplistic?"

I agree that there is certainly an opportunity for Information Professionals to extend their influence to a certain degree the "problem" is that Enterprise 2.0 and Social Media tools take control away from the individuals who would traditionally manage them.
I'll take Classification as an example in the pre Enterprise 2.0 world resources would be classified by an Information Professional and then made available. In the Enterprise 2.0 world users are created their own classifications (tags) on the fly, dynamically as and when they need them, with little or no input from Information Professionals, Managers, Knowledge name it. Don't agree tell me why?

Are you a social media savvy Librarian?

What "competencies" do you need to demonstrate in order to be a "social media literate" Librarian?

The blogpost Top Ten (10) Social Media Competencies for Librarians outlines exactly what's required.

In my mind the first five are the most important, closely followed by points 6 and 9. But who am I to say, let me know what you think should be the Top 10 Social Media competencies.

via the iLibrarian

Finding expertise in your organisation

Finding expertise in your organisation is the title of an excellent article in FUMSI in which Connie Crosby looks at how we can find experts in the organisations we work for.

Connie begins her article by looking at what expertise is, why we would look for expertise and perhaps most importantly for information specialists the sources we can use to find expertise including some of the new social web applications. Overall this is an excellent article which is well worth spending 5 minutes reading.

The Running Librarian

I've known I've been really bad recently! I've not been posting as much as I should have but I blame moving house on my radio silence.

I'm back now and relatively DIY free so I hope you'll keep reading my posts!

Running free!

Do you run with or without a watch? The last race I ran (Margate 1/2 Marathon) I completely forgot to bring my watch which meant I couldn't tell how quick or probably more accurate how slow I was running. I was also surprised to see how many people there weren't wearing watches I know because I asked a few people how long we'd been running!

It got me thinking does running wearing a watch actually impede your running? I know that when I run wearing a watch I will often check the watch to see how I'm doing and if I'm running too slow try and speed up, but is this necessarily a good thing?

Just some food for thought!

Margate 1/2 Marathon

Two weeks ago I ran the Margate 1/2 Marathon. This was my first 1/2 Marathon in more than 2 years and my first race since I ran the Mid Kent 5 miler. On top of that the last time I'd run at least 10 miles was in February!

Before I reveal my time I have to say this was a very well organised event. Taking place between Margate and Broadstairs the course takes in much of the Viking coast and though described as "undulating" it is quite hilly in parts, although this didn't detract from what is a very enjoyable race. I also realised how lucky I was to live near to such nice parts of the coast, even if they were very steep!

Given that the course was described as "undulating" I was delighted to get round in a time of 2 hours 1 minute and 38 seconds. I was running "free", more on that in another post, so would have pushed for the line If I'd have known how close I was to running under 2 hours.

The day also hosts the Kent Coastal Marathon so there was a good mix of people running the 1/2 Marathon and the Marathon although how people could go on to run another 13.1 miles I don't know! My next race is (I hope) the Faversham 10k followed by the Folkestone 1/2 Marathon, the Sittingbourne 10 miler and then the big one the Royal Parks 1/2 Marathon which I'm running with two of my work colleagues and raising money for Fight for Sight, it's not too late to sponsor us!

New intranet resources

Some Intranet resources that have caught my eye recently which I'd thought I'd share with you all.

  • The Intranet Lounge - "Intranet lounge is a non-commercial initiative to promote intranet knowledge across intranet profesionals" This looks like it's becoming a
    fantastic resource for Intranet Managers in any organisation.
  • 50 Useful Tools and Resources For Web Designers - This does exactly what it says on the tin Typograph, Bookmarklets, CSS, HTML and JavaScript Tools it has pretty much everything!
  • 10 Free Wireframing Tools - If you need to resdesign your website and don't have a commercial product look no further then this great list of tools.

Who do you think you are!?

Sadly this blog post isn't going to be about the BBC television programme of the same name but about something close to my heart which is the role of an "Intranet manager"

Two "recently" published blog posts have made me read around the subject and it's quite interesting to see what other people think. The first blog post was Intranet Manager role: evolve or devolve? this looks at the results of a Global Intranet Strategies Survey which specifically looks at the Intranet Manager role.

The second blog post was "So you think you're an Intranet manager" this is perhaps the more interesting article as it asks "...what does the title of Intranet Manager actually mean: does the job focus on communications, or tech, or are you taking care of both?" The article then asks some Intranet Managers what they think they do. There are some interesting quotes and examples from Intranet Managers about what they do, although my favourite has to be Intranet Managers "...solve communications problems and needs with technology" That pretty much sums up the challenge we face!

Making SharePoint successful!

Just in case you hadn't seen or heard enough about SharePoint, the following are blog posts or articles I've read recently about SharePoint which I found useful.

Some great links here which I thoroughly recommend reading.

How is SharePoint used in Libraries?

Fumsi have published a very interesting article on the use of SharePoint within Libraries, called originally "How is SharePoint used in Libraries" the article detail the results of a survey undertaken in March 2010 which asked about the usage of SharePoint in Libraries. The focus of the article appears to be on using SharePoint as a Library Management system or at the very least integrating an existing Library Management system with SharePoint.

There are some very interesting points made in this survey which will be of interest to any library/librarian considering using SharePoint for this purpose.

  • The majority of the survey participants used SharePoint from within an Intranet
  • The majority of the Librarians who responsed stated they would not be able to find enough time to learn which web parts could help them with their Library management tasks.
  • All of the participants would prefer a ready-made integrated library system.

So some good and bad points here, SharePoint as we know does require some customisation and coding (not necessarily by a Librarian) which means it can be quite hard to start using it straight away.

Sue Hill Networking Breakfast

A couple of weeks ago I attended my first Sue Hill Networking Breakfast at Roast Restaurant in Borough Market. My train passes Roast every day on the way into Cannon Street so I was excited about the prospect of being one of the people enjoying a hearty breakfast rather then the other way around. I'm going to say this now so I wont have to say it again the breakfast was fantastic and it was almost, almost too difficult to make a choice from the large selection. Finally I chose the "Full Borough" essentially a full English breakfast, but without black pudding :(

Once Breakfast was ordered the group settled down into a very interesting discussion. The group was comprised of individuals from different sectors, which was great as it meant we got to hear about how we're sharing the same challenges but also about some of the different issues affecting colleagues in the Medical, Scientific and Special library sectors.

Initially the group was asked to list 3 words which we felt were the biggest issues affecting our work. Unsurprisingly change was mentioned a number of times by the group, challenge and challenges were also mentioned. Sadly I cant for the life of me remember what my 3 words were but change is certainly something I have to deal with on a regular basis. One of the points that was raised at the meeting was that it's important to fight the battles that you think you can win. There's no point wasting huge amounts of energy on a fight you're not going to win or which is a hollow victory and does little to prove the value or worth of the service you're responsible for. This was a really interesting meeting and before anyone knew it our breakfast meeting was over and we all had to go and face the challenges we'd just been discussing.

You can read another (less food orientated) review of the Breakfast meeting in the blog post "Engage in change" on the View from the Hill blog.

You get what you pay for - Mid-Kent 5 Miler

Yesterday I took part in the Mid Kent 5 miler this event, which was hosted by Velocity Events took place in the very scenic village of Staplehurst, in well Mid Kent. The course was described as fast and flat and a potential 5 mile PB was on the cards. Sadly I'm still not fully fit and lumbered round in time of 39:15 which put me 67th out of 122 starters.

Overall I felt better about this result then the 10k at Deal and my pace had I continued on for another 1.2 miles would have seen me complete 10k in approximately 48:31 which is 4 minutes faster then my time at Deal and getting back towards times I would expect to be running.

Now the reason I've put "You get what you pay" is because this was a "cheap as chips" race and it showed. The start was at the top of a road which wasn't closed so had traffic coming up it as we started. There were no signs on the road indicating there were going to be runners so cars were speeding around without a care in the world. As far as I can see there was no first aid provision but they might have made this clear in the application form and finally and perhaps the funniest thing about the race the finish was in a lay-by opposite an Esso Garage!

Having said all of that I'll probably run the race next year to see if I can better my time!

Understanding new solutions

Understanding and investigating new solutions is an important part of any Intranet Mangers role, which is why Catherine Grenfell's article "Understanding new solutions" on the Step Two Designs blog caught my eye.

From the introduction to the blog post:

"In today’s world new solutions and applications appear every day, and some are more useful and interesting than others. It’s part of an intranet team’s role to know what’s around and be able to make recommendations about suggested improvements. However some teams are reluctant to explore new areas such as social media, mobile devices or online hosted solutions"

Catherine then outlines some of the options (new solutions) available to Intranet Managers and some of the constraints and issues that Intranet managers need to be aware of. This is an excellent post which is well worth a quick read.

Dinosaur (Deal) 10k

Last Sunday I ran the Dinosaur (Deal) 10k this was my first competitive race since the Darent Valley 10k in April when I fell off the pavement on the final corner and torn a bunch of ligaments in my ankle.

Since April I've not managed to train much until this month so it came as no surprise that my time was a very disappointing 52:00, this placed me 205th out of 463 runners. Having said that it was great to be out and about running again and I'll definitely be running this race next year, if only to better my very slow time of 52:00.

In case you're wondering the Dinosaur is from the Deal Tri website at time it felt a bit like I was running like a Dinosaur on Sunday!

What is open source? have published a great introduction to Open source called "What is Open Source" which if you're interested in Open source, you'll want to take a look at! This sounds like it is just an introduction to a number of articles which will look at how Open Source can be used by Librarians. I'm sure the wait will be very worthwhile!

Photo courtesy of Flickr

How to evaluate enterprise wiki software

How do you evaluate wiki software for use in an Enterprise? The Confluence product blog might well have the answer with this post "10 questions to answer when evaluating enterprise wiki software" In the post the author puts forward 10 suggestions for questions which should form the basis for your requirements, they are as follows:

  • Open-Source-Software or a commercial wiki product?
  • Price? - This can be a major factor in determing what wiki software you can implement
  • Are high quality plug-ins available?
  • Does an active community already exist?
  • Is this particular Wiki a known quantity?
  • What kind of technologies?
  • System functionalities?
  • Usability and Design?
  • Requirements for the project?
  • Migratability of the data?
  • Does the wiki offer simple system administration?

Hold on that's 11 suggestions...oh well who's counting! There are some excellent suggestions here for factors you need to consider carefully if you're looking at purchasing an enterprise wiki software application.

Note there is obviously a Confluence bias to this post as it has been published to the Confluence Product blog but the questions can be applied to any enterprise wiki application.

BIALL 2010 session summaries

I could spend some time writing summaries of ALL the sessions I attended at the BIALL Conference but thankfully I don't have to because someone has beaten me to it!

Laura Woods aka WoodsieGirl has written some fantastic summaries of the sessions she attended. So if you didn't attend the Conference or even if you did have a look at the following and see if you agree with Laura's comments on the sessions content.

Some excellent work here from Laura who not only managed to pay attention to what was happening during the sessions but take photos as the official BIALL photographer at the same time!

Basic legal research

I don't do any legal research these days, most people will say that is probably a good thing but even I can tell that this is a very good introduction to legal sources for U.S Legislation and Case Law.

Don't say I don't ever give you anything for free...

My beautiful Intranet

I think our Intranet is excellent but apparently nothing compared to the "beautiful" intranets announced as part of the Intranet Benchmarking forum competition "My Beautiful Intranet" competition. Screenshots from the finalists Intranets are shown in the Presentation below.

Infographics is me...

Why does this always happen, you wait ages for an Infographic and then 11 come along at the same time?!

First up is this brillant, yes really, infographich called "How does Google Work?"

How Does Google Work?

Infographic by PPC Blog

Then I stumbled across a set of not one not two, but 10 Social Media Infographics and then just when I didn't think things could get any better I found a fantastic set of photos on Flickr from a company called Intersection Consulting I love this one entitled "Anti-social etiquette"

Back in my stride...

...I'm pleased to say after several months of sitting around and twiddling my thumbs (figuratively at least) I'm back pounding the streets of my hometown.

I've been running every other day with no ill-effects from my previous and have been slowly but surely increasing the time and distance I'm running.

The even better news is that I feel ready to take part in some more races, starting with the Dinosaur 10k (not as scary as it sounds)The Mid-Kent 5 miler, The Sandwich Festival 10k and the Kent Coastal 1/2 Marathon, before the big one in October the Royal Parks 1/2 Marathon. If you're interested and have some spare cash(!) you can sponsor myself and two colleagues who are running this race with me.

BIALL Conference - first thoughts

Last Friday I attended the 2nd day of the Annual BIALL Conference. This year the Conference took place in Brighton. This was the second time I'd been to Brighton to attend the Annual Conference back in 2006 I was Chair of the Legal Information Group (LIG) and was chairing a session run by LIG called "Too many resources - too little time" That was a great conference and this one despite the fact I only attended for one day was even better.

That might have been because I was presenting with my colleague Anneli Sarkanen on how we're currently using wikis at our law firm or it might have been because I was able to catch up with some friends I hadn't seen in a long time, either way I had a fantastic time and would of course recommend the BIALL Conference to anyone who hasn't attended before. However If you want to read an impartial view of the Conference then I suggest reading Woodsiegirl's post "BIALL Conference 2010 - General refelection" Woodsiegirl makes some good points about the lack of WiFI or rather the cost of WiFI which was just ridiculous! and about how friendly BIALL are...they really really are!

I'm planning to write some posts about some of the sessions I attended in due course. I'm also certain a lot of the slides are going to be published on the BIALL website but if you're interested in the keynote speech from David Gurteen I've embedded the presentation, which David has published to Slideshare, below.

Enterprise 2.0: the use of social tools within an organisation

Steve Perry (ex-Freshfields) has published his presentation from the recent Perfect Information Conference. The presentation "Enterprise 2.0 - The use of social tools with an organisation" looks in detail at Enterprise 2.0 and how it could be used within an organisation.

The presentation starts with a couple of good definitions of Enterprise 2.0, the clearest in my opinion has to be the following "Building, intuitive, collaborative tools and solutions that let people work in a flexible way"

Steve then looks at some of the challenges of implementing Enterprise 2.0, the business benefits associated with using Enterprise 2.0 tools and some of the reasons why it's important for organisations to embrace Enterprise 2.0. The presentation finishes with a look at some of the future developments in Enterprise 2.0, this include Search tools becoming even more important and end-user generated content.

This is a useful introduction to how Enterprise 2.0 actually works in an organisation. I've embedded the presentation below for everyone to enjoy.

So what is Knowledge Management?

I've often struggled with finding a very clear definition of Knowledge Management so was delighted when I saw the video below from Chris Collinson if you're looking for a good definition of Knowledge Management, look no further.

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 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.