Rolling Out WestlawNext Canada

My team is consumed with rolling out the new WestlawNext Canada platform to our colleagues. This is a big job that many firms will face, so I thought I would share some things we have done to support this project.

First, as with any change, communication is key. Before we started down the rollout road, we discussed it as a library team, then with our key stakeholders – our Library Committee, and also with the Director of IT. We looked at the timing of this rollout from the perspective of capacity of our human resources, capacity of our technology (hardware and team) and from the perspective of what other user change projects were going on. A perspective of what other things are happening in the business is an important consideration for a library driven project since we exist to support the firms’ business goals.

Next we proceeded with librarian testing and train the trainer. The testing was based on early access to the system and playing in the WNC sandbox. We individually went through the user guides and training tutorials and asked questions and provided feedback. We also had a train the trainer presentation tailored to our objectives and attended general overview sessions. This preparation for the people who will be answering questions about the system for internal users is important. Our team needed an opportunity to be comfortable working in the new environment so that we can offer support to our users.

In our environment, we personally provide most of the training through desk visits, practice group demonstrations, student refresher seminars, and drop in previews. Though we are offering a demonstration with vendor trainers, we know that in our firm resource training is an opportunity to build relationships with our stakeholders. People like coming to the library staff for their research resource learning. It is also good marketing to provide training as a ‘product’ from our group. After testing, the next step in our rollout was preparing for internal training by adapting out existing learning objectives for Westlaw Canada to WestlawNext Canada. The new system uses a different approach to research so our learning objectives got revamped to accommodate it.

The communication plan came next. A draft of when and what messages to send to users was sketched out and then shared with our team and our Library Committee. Since 2014 began, regular messages about WNC with slightly different foci have been distributed. First was a general message with an explanation of what was happening and why along with a ‘stay tuned for a training invite’, next was a drop in or call us for a desk visit email, followed by a very successful “invite us to your group meeting for a demo” and a calendar appointment for regular users to attend a vendor demo. With each of these messages, we provided links to the system, the options and opportunities for training and links to the support material. Planning communication about change is an important step. People are more likely to accept and adopt something new if it is supported by appropriate communication.

To support the change in a visual way, we retooled our launching page for electronic research resources. This was handled in two stages. First, we simply added a quick link to WestlawNext Canada at the top of our research links intranet page in addition to existing links to the old platform. This first week step was followed by a complete change to the research links intranet page. It was redesigned, shortened, and links to the ‘old’ Westlaw Canada site were removed from this key jumping off page. This step halfway through the month long rollout plan will be followed up by scrubbing and substituting references throughout the rest of the library intranet over the next two weeks.

Finally, using our electronic resource management software, we are sending individual messages (and will continue to) to researchers asking about their experience with the new site, and after next week, asking what is causing them to use the old site rather than the new. This one-to-one communication is another relationship tool with our users and will also help us measure what we are already tracking – who has been exposed to the new system with training or a demo and who has not – something we can cure. We intend to spend part of each day the last week of January doing walk around visits to check in with researchers and casual users in person. We may use some of the video tutorials that have been provided to help address specific topics.

Thinking back, this basic framework, in varying degrees, is the same process used when eCarswell first appeared, when LexisNexis Quicklaw was introduced when we adopted CCH Online, and last year when CanLII’s single search box was launched. Nothing new – talk, test, tell, train, track, and try again where necessary


  1. Shaunna, I am interested in knowing why your IT department was involved in the roll out. Did IT have to configure any systems to allow for the use of WCN. Thanks.

  2. “talk, test, tell, train, track, and try again”

    The 6Ts- love it!

    Thank you once again for your generosity in sharing your process with us. I always say you can never have too much communication when it comes to change. Best of luck with the roll-out!