If you are a law firm starting from scratch looking to build an intranet, what would you do? Would you emulate many of the big US and Canadian firms and implement MS Sharepoint? Or look for a different solution? So often firms look over each others’ shoulder to see what the other is doing. But with intranets one size does not fit all.
I am currently in Washington, DC for KM World 2010 and was fortunate to have a good discussion with Gordon Ross, Vice President of Open Road Communications Ltd., web consultants and creators of the social intranet platform ThoughtFarmer. Our discussion naturally turned to two talks hosted by Knowledge Workers Toronto, a meetup group I co-organize along with fellow consultants Stephanie Barnes and Martin Cleaver (which incidentally we are just in the process of rebranding as Knowledge Workers: Methods)
The first talk, held September 22, 2010, was given by Heather Colman, Knowledge Management Specialist at Hicks Morley (and one of Slaw’s own columnists). Heather talked about her firm’s implementation of ThoughtFarmer, and gave us an update on the implement and adoption story. Video from that talk is below. Hicks Morley has been generous the last couple of years allowing Heather to talk about the firms’ approach and ThoughtFarmer implementation.
We are still learning our way around the livestreaming software for these sessions–this is unedited and I recommend jumping to the 2:40 min mark for the start of the talk. Note also we lost sound early on, but it does come back. This talk (with lots of questions from the audience) lasts about 75 minutes.
The second talk, held October 20, 2010, was given by Jennifer McNenly, Knowledge Systems Product Architect of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. Jennifer spoke about her firm’s implementation of MS Sharepoint, how they developed the system to create a highly successful intranet. The video below of Jennifer’s talk runs about 93 minutes (again, lots of questions from our group).
In my conversation with Gordon Ross, we came to agreement that for large firms that can afford development costs, MS Sharepoint can be a powerful platform affording a lot of flexibility. But the time and price spent on development can be out of reach for smaller firms (and by smaller firms, I mean firms in the mid-size range of about 100 lawyers or smaller). So for them, it makes sense to look for another solution. Gordon pointed out that smaller firms should not be trying to emulate the big firms, but instead do what smaller organizations are good at: being nimble. Why spend a lot of time and money on development when an out-of-the-box solution works?
I like the talks by Heather Colman and Jennifer McNenly. Taken together, they make a nice comparison and contrast study between two successful law firm intranet implementations. I thank both of them, and their firms, for agreeing to share their stories with the Knowledge Workers community, and for allowing us to post these talks publicly for everyone’s benefit.