Improve Information Flow with Enterprise 2.0

By Joseph Raczynski

Jessica Shawl – Intel Corporation

Paul Domnick – Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Enterprise 2.0, collaborative based applications, solve inefficiencies caused by the inability to locate accurate information. This session at ILTA discussed why intranets do not suffice, single silo search is dying, and what is necessary to advance the firm’s productivity.

Across the board law firms are realizing that an increase in transparency nets far greater productivity and in-turn profit.  This knowledge sharing facilitates collaboration and reduces the time that attorneys spend searching for content.  Enterprise 2.0 is at the very center of this movement.

Enterprise 2.0 tools:

  • At the firm level for the portal you can create public feeds and flows. This would include internal and external RSS feeds based on subject, person, group or even specific search criteria.
  • Users can create, share, and tag information. Allowing others to vote on information as helpful or not can be a major boon.
  • Blogging can raise awareness of issues in a more formalistic view and others can comment on this material.
  • Group collaboration is another great tool for organizing information. This can be done via a Wiki and other group systems.
  • Lastly at the user level Enterprise 2.0 tools allow the individual to organize your information by tags, subject area, and even manage personal RSS feeds.

Suggestions from Enterprise 2.0 implementers:

  • Structure your tools so that it is easy to understand and learn
  • Keep it well organized and as hierarchical as possible, yet “searchably flat”
  • Learn how your users work. Understand their workflow and the tools will adjust and fit into that stream
  • Do not be afraid of testing new simple to implement applications like Yammer. The immediate impact can be very beneficial, if it does not work, they can be removed with little expense.
  • Make use of “Webjams” which are places where the firm can ask questions e.g. how can people be more efficient and work better?
  • Enable easy authoring and information sharing
  • Work towards an enterprise search so that everything across every silo is available
  • Leverage early adopters. With critical mass typically 70% of the firm’s users can be brought on board.
  • Lastly, take the tools we have in our “outside of work lives” and leverage them in the firm. Typically the tools we use in our personal lives make sense to users and can be adapted to a firm use.

Enterprise 2.0 is a major and powerful arena leveraging all the firms’ data and users creating transparencies which ultimately increase efficiencies and make for a more profitable firm.

Meaningful Metrics to Quantify ROI for KM and Enterprise 2.0 Deployments

By Joseph Raczynski

Clark R. Cordner – Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Charlotte Herring – The US Judge Advocate General’s Corps

 

Recently some select firms have forgone the necessity to prove return on investment (ROI), for KM, portal and Enterprise 2.0.  However for the vast majority, ROI justification remains a constant.  In this session at ILTA, the panel examined the basics of metrics, how to measure productivity rather than busy-ness, how to measure engagement, and concrete ways to measure portal and Enterprise 2.0 applications.

As a baseline understanding for this discussion, metrics are numbers to gage progress, i.e. a quantifiable means to measure if there is a move from one point to another.  Firms engage in this activity to evaluate success and decide what to fund.  Simply stated they create these objectives to see if they are materially advancing the goals of the organization.

Metrics as a lens, key points to ponder:

  • Focus on the factors that have the most positive correlation for success
  • Ask yourself, “If success is… X, then I need to measure… Y.”
  • What are the business pain points?
  • Knowledge management is not always just technological issue, often it is education
  • What does success look like? Is it the bottom line for a firm?
  • KM tools are a critical component to success, choose wisely

Testing those metrics is a major component to your KM success.  Start with an educated guess based on your project goals and gather some basic data.  Also key to this empirical testing is to consult with focus groups and friendly stakeholders.  This not only verifies that you are working in the right direction; thus validating your work, it also tests your view verses others, establishing a complete balanced vision for the firm.  Lastly based on any feedback from these groups in testing these components, a firm should revise their methodology if necessary, adjust and repeat this process.

Portal metrics:

  • How many hits does the portal get? This will give the firm a glimpse into the level of interest and usefulness of the portal.
  • What kind of frequency do users return to the portal and for how long do they stay? These numbers will also assist in understanding interest, usefulness or possibly… forgetfulness.
  • Your firm should gather data on the identity of users. From these metrics you can figure out patterns of adoption; that is what age group, which practice group and what geographic area is using the portal?
  • Pull data on how current is the content is and to whom it is available. You can gather information on if people are using the information via a “like” button or if they are sharing it.
  • View the impact on other systems or tools. Has traffic to the other applications been reduced?  Do people refer to this tool or others?

Enterprise 2.0, aka Activity Streams or Social Media metrics:

  • Listen to the number of requests for access to this new tool. If you see something like Yammer jump in requests, you will be able to consider that as a major driver for implementation.
  • Once the tool is in place, view the usage over time. Often these new media applications are classified as a “five day wonder”, i.e. is this tool sticky, and will the usage change over time?
  • Another metric to consider is the pace of conversation for the tool. Is the tool a “go to” resource or peripheral to the organization?
  • Other areas to consider viewing metrics on are the numbers of links that people add to their work product, “retweets” and the time of day for usage
  • Lastly it is important to understand the impact on other tools. Is this new application used in preference of other tools, like email?

ROI is an impactful and important aspect of any business plan at law firms.  Examining the factors that have the most positive correlation for success is essential.  Once you have established a set of metrics which have been vetted by all major stakeholders, continue to test and understand that the mythology may need to be adjusted over time.  Those quantitative metrics will help guide the firm to success.

Strategies for Managing Mobile Devices in Law Firms

By Joseph Raczynski

Christopher B. Hunt – Tarlow, Breed, Hart & Rodgers, P.C.
Kris Snyder – VoxMobile

 

Today at the typical law firm the onslaught of various mobile devices abound.  The firm is now confronted with requests to support a fractious market of iPhones, BlackBerries, and Androids.  Not only must they deal with devices, they also grapple with various platforms and specific (Apps) applications.   This hodge-podge environment of disparate devices can be a major challenge.  This session at ILTA explored how firms deal with mobile devices and policy.

Firms have taken three approaches to mobile device management:

  • Big Brother: The firm issues devices to users

In this scenario a firm decides to keep things simple and provide users with one device, this typically creates the least pressure on the technology group.  In the past firms chose this route because it is easiest to manage and the most secure.  However, recently this “one device” management has become increasingly difficult to sustain.  Users are demanding use of their own devices which are not supported.

  • Free-for-all: The firm allows all personal devices to be connected to the network

This typically engenders tremendous support among users as they can use any device to their liking.  The attorney is responsible for purchasing the device.  However, all other aspects are placed in the hands of the firm who is tasked with managing the multitude.  The downside is that the firm is responsible for dozens of varying platforms, operating systems and devices.  Security can be a huge concern under this “free-for-all” policy.

  • Hybrid: The firm allows for multiple devices within set limitations

This approach allows some devices to be brought in from outside, but those units are from an accepted list.  This seems to be the trend among law firms as they find more flexibility with users, thus offering them a choice.

When crafting your policy consider these lessons learned from experienced firms:

  • Understand your firm culture, i.e. would your firm support a single device approach, or is the “hybrid” a better option?
  • Does the firm have the resources to support multiple devices, their unique security, maintenance, and associated apps?
  • What happens when the user leaves the firm? Should you wipe the entire device, or just the enterprise content?
  • Treat security and manageability as the primary requirements of your policy
  • In the long run, supporting multiple devices will probably not be the best plan so attempt to find common ground without causing a mutiny among your users
  • Lastly all firms should require: passwords, encryption and time-out periods

At the end of the day, when crafting your policy for mobile devices the juggling of security, firm culture, and manageability of the devices will be the most important variables to consider.   Each of these aspects will vary depending on the firm and should be weighed and adjusted accordingly.

 

Social Media Policy Development

By Joseph Raczynski

Panelist:

Julia Montgomery, Technology Projects Manager, Arent Fox LLP

Karen M. Sheehan, Head of PLC Law Department at Practical Law Company, Inc.

Mary Abraham, Counsel, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (Moderator)

 

As social media has ballooned in popularity and use, law firms have had to wrestle with the myriad of implications on the organization.  Staff and attorneys who increasingly use of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube can cause serious issues for the firm.  This session at ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) focused around the various aspects of a firm developing a social media policy.

Here are some important points to consider when crafting you social media policy:

  • A firm should gather a wide internal audience for a complete perspective. These individuals should include: a partner, junior associate, the marketing department, and the “grandmotherly secretary”
  • It should involve a cross-disciplinary drafting team: IT, HR, marketing, ethics department, and someone who has used social media in the past
  • A policy should keep the policies broad so as not to get into specific types of social media like Youtube or FourSquare
  • The policy should not be crafted unless you actually play in the field. That is, that policy owner needs to know how each works, e.g. Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn

Some recommendations for a firm to its users:

  • Firms are using social media to look at people for hiring and firings.
  • You may need to educate people about privacy settings and work with IT to adjust sites at the firm
  • You should have a designated individual at the firm whom users could visit to ask if it makes sense to post something
  • The best rule of thumb is to keep in mind if what you are doing or saying is “in public.” In most cases, what you write online is public or can be made public
  • Some firms are blocking all users from social media, some firms merely block staff, and others actually select individuals who have a reputation for abuse

 

Educational Issues:

  • If a policy is not accompanied by education, it will be hard to enforce
  • Be sure the employees of your firm understand the opportunities and the dangers of social media
  • A firm can dictate what you can or cannot write on Facebook, if you are on company time and using company resources. There should be no real expectation of privacy if you are posting on Facebook and are associated with a firm.  However, the firm must have a business justifiable reason to take action.

Ultimately with the rapid adoption of social media, a carefully crafted social media policy is highly recommended.  It must be broad in its scope to include all possibilities and use cases as it is easier than ever to break the client confidentiality rules via social media.  Lastly, users must be aware to be honest about who they are, making it clear their views or their own and understand that even those statements potentially have an effect on the firm.

Enterprise Content Management: Integrating KM, RM and DM

By Joseph Raczynski

Massive collections of information are inundating law firms.  With multiple points of integration, interfaces, and varying disciplines this further muddies the waters.  This session at ILTA answered questions relating the issues of organizing and managing content across all firm repositories to reduce silos, improve data quality, facilitate KM and ensure full and accurate firm records.

The goal of most firms now is to devise an ECM (Enterprise Content Management) system which includes connecting all of the following silos of information: email, DMS, KM system, records management system and others.

This is a cumbersome process because each data set is unique and live in differing systems.  Another issue, rarely understood, is that storage of data is not cheap.  With the necessities of infrastructure, backing up and maintaining data and a facility is rather expensive.

Another area of consideration is risk management.  A firm must be able to craft policies about enterprise information management.  That is, how does the firm handle electronic discovery and where is it stored?  Who has rights to the data?  How should users get access to it and how long should it be stored?

Additionally law firms must consider the client-side challenges.  Typically if not planned out, users at a firm can experience time consuming search for documents.  They also can learn that it is difficult to “find” documents located in various locations.

In essence, firms must build “tridges”, multi-pointed bridges which connect all groups and information together. To do so a firm needs to:

  • Understand there will be some hard cultural changes at the firm
  • Find top level champions to be brought on board for support of the ECM
  • The organization must highlight (WIIFM) What Is In it For Me… so that all aspects of the organization can see how they fit in
  • Address user concerns by showing them what will be brought into via search on the ECM. By doing this you create a vested interest and they typically like seeing their work product pulled up in the searches

Ultimately when conjoining all of the various disparate pieces of information together, there are several point to consider:

  • The process has to be defined and paramount to this is communication. Among all of the parties which will be involved in the ECM process, making sure everyone is on the same page is critical
  • Define objectives: every aspect of what the firm wishes to have as a net result must be detailed
  • Redefine the process. Understand that many new processes will evolve which will then be disseminated across the organization
  • Understand that technologies can get in the way of each other and be prepared for these temporary setbacks.
  • Lastly accept and accommodate the delta; i.e. know that all of these things can get you so far but you still have a system that will need to be adjusted over time