Last week, our firm launched its Microsoft SharePoint portal. Users are taken to the front page of the portal when they first turn on their systems (and every time they launch IE). They must also use the portal to launch all their applications.
The portal offers great potential for collaboration and sharing (of course, a lot of hard work will be required to get everyone fully "engaged"). It also offers some fun – opportunities to work with third party vendors who are busy developing enterprise wide aggregation for RSS feeds and more sophisticated discusssion forum technology.
Not everyone in the firm is happy with their new "desktop". Notwithstanding requests, we will not "turn off" the portal. Given that I have been living with the portal for almost a year (and most of the rest of the firm has only seen it for a few days), I understand some frustration about the changes. I can also understand why our articling students chose the portal as one of the subjects for their Christmas Party skit (their thesis was that there was nothing new in the portal – the applications and information had existed before – it was much funnier in person!).
The portal offers a great opportunity to figure out how to train lawyers and other law firm users about the information and resources available to them. With the portal, it will be much easier to re-vamp training from its current application focus to a process focus.
We decided to roll out the portal in mid-December so that all team members could take a break over the holiday season – and return in January with renewed energy and enthusiam for the next stage of the project. With the infrastructure in place, January will be the month to review every piece of content and every process designed to deliver content so that we can be sure that the portal will continue to display new and relevant information every day (it really must if we are forcing everyone to look at it). I only hope that a 10 day break is long enough!