Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Friday's Cocktail Leadership

Friday has come early this week, and as soon as we woke up (well actually every night and every day)...we knew that it is you we need, to take the blues away...good morning to all the Janders Dean sparkling clients and friends. Does it feel like Santa is coming?

Anyway...what an exhausting week at Janders Dean! Combined project and presentation work at four of our top clients has kept our heads busy and our feet sore. We're actually almost too exhausted for our regular Friday Cocktail Leadership posting.....yeah right.... so here we go (with a glass of the good stuff, and the resulting green fairy on our shoulder):

We've been busy with our friends up at King & Wood this week, and send a great thank you to Kim for her assistance with our trip. We've also spent time with the team at Freehills - who are making phenomenal progress on their development, design, testing and content streams. Big rewards are coming from Janders Dean in the form of a dedicated milestone cocktail event just for you!

You'll have noticed some rapid postings this week including an exclusive guest posting from David Fitch, news from G+T's practice floors on their blog, mention of an article on the evolution of managing knowledge and the knowledge department itself from Allen & Overy, and the promise of more guest postings.

We're also excited by the rapid increase in membership to the two new LinkedIn groups created last week with the assistance of Janders Dean - the APAC Law Firm Technology Group, and the APAC Law Firm Knowledge Management Group. Peter Campbell (CIO at Sparke Helmore) has kicked off the first discussion in the technology group with a topic on "Green IT" and his actions for the firm in this area. The thread has comments from Philip Scorgie at Deacons, Dylan James at DLA Phillips Fox and Richard Figar of Moray & Agnew, who all provide feedback on their actions.

The Janders Dean green innovation tip for this week is to get your hands on these groovy little batteries. They rock! Thanks to our friends at Innocent for putting us on to these. Now go grab some. Although Bevan doesn't know it yet (whoops) Janders Dean has just agreed to off-set all our international and domestic flights for the 2008/09 year which (for those of you who know our travel schedules) is not a small number of bad meals and plastic cutlery. Don't worry...Bevan will say yes to this if Justin finally gets that spreadsheet to him that he's been promising for many weeks.

The sun is about to set on the latest two day LawTech Awards & Legal Technology Conference event at Byron Bay today, with winners of the awards about to be released. We wish the team at Chilli all the best for this event, and thank them for their continued interest and energy in the APAC market. Oh....speaking of fun events....after our successful event at Zeta, the next exclusive Janders Dean client event is the ElBulli evening with Ferran AdriĆ  in Sydney. Don't say we don't love you!

Finally on the work related front, we wish Adam, Jennifer, Bernadette and the gang at TressCox all the very best as they go into their pre-migration 'black-out' period, and send a bravo out to Peter, Helen, Linda and the Sparke Helmore gang for their awesome focus group and persona work. Bravo! We also say 'buy some new clothes' to the big NYC birthday man from LNG.

So, what have you been up to? Did you enjoy last Friday's international "talk like a pirate day"? True. It was. This Friday is "walk to work" day. True. It is. So did you? Speaking of good causes, Pink Ribbon Day is coming up very soon. We send a massive hello to Cat and the original '07 Kokoda Chicks, and urge everyone to visit this link to learn more about the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Pink Ribbon Day (October 27th).

Did anyone notice that this Friday morning there seemed to be a bright, golden haze on the meadow? More like a Spark than a haze...we're off next week to live the life we imagined for a while. You should try it.
Enjoy the weekend. Enjoy life. Enjoy dreams. Enjoy imagination.

Janders Dean Exclusive: Guest Post by David Fitch, Director of KM at Simmons & Simmons

Janders Dean is pleased to bring you an exclusive guest posting from David Fitch (Director of Knowledge Management at Simmons & Simmons).

We're pleased to be the online forum where David speaks for the first time about this project to the wider community in what is a very open, honest and detailed account of the firm's recent Enterprise Search project. We thank David for his excellent summary and advice.

We look forward to bringing you similar case studies and additional guest postings in the areas of law firm Knowledge Management and Technology in the near future.

Justin & Bevan



What did we learn when implementing enterprise search?

It’s been a long journey for
Simmons & Simmons in delivering enterprise search technology to the firm. Finally, on 15 August, we rolled out the Recommind MindServer platform across 20 offices, to 1000 fee-earners, integrating five key knowhow and information collections across the firm.

The journey commenced over two years ago, through a recognition that lawyers faced real difficulty in finding information across the many disparate knowhow and information resources across the firm. We had great collections, but lawyer feedback confirmed that there was confusion around where to go for different types of material, that findability of information in a number of systems wasn’t optimal, and importantly, that lawyers spent too much time looking!

Identifying the business case for enterprise search

The business case for enterprise search was straight forward and focussed on four key areas:

* Reducing the amount of time that lawyers spend finding information
* Providing a single entry point to key information and knowhow resources
* Encouraging lawyer self-sufficiency
* Supporting our global business by integrating systems across borders and introducing search capability that supported all languages in which we do business

Most enterprise search business cases invariably propose calculations around reducing search time for lawyers, calculating out estimates of weekly time saved, multiplied by average charge-out rates. These types of calculations, although useful, only take you part of the way to assembling a compelling case for enterprise search.

Every firm is different. Each of us will have different types of information collections, in different systems, in different languages and with varying structures behind them. Every firm will have different business drivers and high level objectives documented in a longer term strategic plan.

In developing your business case for enterprise search it is essential that you outline how the introduction of enterprise search technology will help you, as a business, to more readily achieve your firm’s strategic vision. For Simmons & Simmons, it was around the provision of a knowhow and technology infrastructure to better support our growing, global organisation.

Vendor selection

Once the business case for enterprise search had been approved, a detailed list of requirements was assembled. These requirements were used to identify prospective vendors. When on the market back in 2006, we shortlisted six vendors based upon our requirements analysis and a short RFI process. We selected two providers for a competitive proof of concept exercise.

Running a proof of concept

The best way to make a decision about any technology is to take it for a test drive!

Technology vendors will invariably make claims around how their system operates, what connectors are available, the overall performance of the system, various functions and features. The only sure way to form a view as to whether the given solution meets your requirements is to put it to the test. The proof of concept exercise that we ran at Simmons & Simmons, pitched two leading search platforms against each other. We asked each vendor to connect to the same information sources and to deliver a basic user-interface for testing.

We learned a lot about how search systems operate during the proof of concept. What was apparent was how different the underlying technologies were – using the same underlying data – how different the results were for the user. We also learned some of the search jargon,
precision and recall as examples. We found real differences between the two systems and were able to form a good view around which system would work best with our collections and which provider would deliver the most usable system for our lawyers.

Aside from testing the technology platforms, a key reason for running a proof of concept was to asses how well we could work with the technology providers. A successful partnering relationship is absolutely key when delivering any technology system to your business. We worked incredibly well with both providers, but ultimately, we felt a stronger relationship with Recommind and an impression that they were committed to and better understood the market in which we operate.

Getting to grips with metadata and taxonomies

The proof of concept exercise highlighted that in order for us to deliver a successful production system, we would have to get to grip with our underlying metadata and taxonomies. Recommind MindServer delivers faceted search capability – that is, it delivers the ability to “slice and dice” search results based upon the underlying metadata facets.

To give you an example of faceted search in action, take a look at the
Amazon UK online shoe store. When searching for shoes, you can filter results by style, brand, colour and price.

In the law firm world, faceted search allows us to run a generic search that delivers many results. You can then filter (or narrow your results) by metadata facets that include jurisdiction, document type, author and date. This allows lawyers to drill-down through their results quickly and enables much greater precision in the final results delivered.

To get faceted search working properly, you need to do some work on your metadata and taxonomies. How many documents do you have classified as “General”, “Default” or “No Office Specified”. Improving the quality of your metadata will make a significant impact in terms of usability of your chosen system.

Negotiating the agreement

Once we selected our provider, we set our procurement manager the task of negotiating the agreement. I would recommend this strategy to anyone. Having a procurement manager in place keeps you at arms length from the vendor and allows commercials to be negotiated in the best possible terms.

Buying any type of firmwide solution will be a significant investment. It is your obligation to negotiate the best possible terms that you can with the vendor. Despite what they say, there is always room to move!

Building a production system

Once the deal was struck, we moved in to planning and building our production system. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of planning and taking time up front to agree the scope of the project and responsibilities for work. The team at Recommind were a pleasure to deal with and were committed to helping us deliver a fantastic solution. Some of you will be aware that Recommind undertook all the development work remotely from San Francisco. I have to say that I was sceptical around this at first, but in hind-sight, I feel this worked to our advantage (particularly because of the time zone differences which in effect gave us much faster development turnaround).

The system rolled out on 15 August is our Phase 1, Knowhow release. It integrates the following content collections:

* Interwoven WorkSite (our collection of standards and precedents)
* Knowhow database (home grown system sitting on Oracle)
* elexica (our award winning online service)
* Heritage (our London based library catalogue)
* PLC (knowhow and online service now used across the majority of our UK practice groups)

Our next phase will be to switch on the remaining FileSite indexes across our four data centres. We’ve built and tested this already and are waiting a short time for our lawyers to get comfortable with the system before we throw another 30 million documents at them! Our final phase will be to enable the Matters & Expertise module, integrating time narratives from Elite and contact information from InterAction – allowing us to use Recommind MindServer as a sophisticated expertise location tool.

Rolling out to 1000 lawyers

Rolling out the system across the firm was straight forward. We relied on email communications and recorded online demonstrations, garnering the support of our professional support lawyers (PSLs) to deliver targeted messages within the practice groups. Recommind MindServer is accessed by an icon on the desktop (something which lawyers seem to like), in addition to having links from the intranet and our business management system (BMS).

Most days, we have over 1000 searches going through, and around 100 unique users accessing the system. A great result and one I know that will only get better over time.

What’s the feedback so far?

Lawyers love it, even partners are using it! We still have another two phases to deliver, and I’m confident that the positive feedback will continue.

What makes the system a success for us is its ease of use and simplicity. Lawyers like going to one place, they appreciate being able to search in any language, they report precision in search results and like a number of the features such as saved searches and preferences.

What next?

Our journey is not yet complete, but we are well on the way to deliver what we set out to achieve. We have a trusted technology partner in Recommind and feel confident continuing our next round of development. Over time, we would like to integrate more sources, bringing in a number of systems that are located outside of London. Longer term, we’d like to explore integrating content from the large legal publishers, although this will require careful planning and testing to ensure that integrating such large content collections does not dilute the quality of what we already have.

Your journey

I hope your journey with enterprise search also delivers a happy ending. Take your time to plan, be confident about your business case, partner with your IT teams, communicate and collaborate with your technology vendor, spend time on your metadata and taxonomies. For me, these are all essential features of a successful journey in to enterprise search.

David Fitch
Director of Knowledge Management
Simmons & Simmons
24 September 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Allen & Overy KM Thoughts: "The End of 'Command Control' Approaches to Knowledge Management?"

A "food for thought" article from David Jabbari, Global Head of Knowledge Management, Allen & Overy LLP recently which was featured in Law Practice Today. It is worth reading and sharing.

Entitled the "The End of 'Command Control' Approaches to Knowledge Management?", it makes for good "water-cooler" content to discuss with your peers (more in relation to the structure and process pieces rather than the technology related pieces). The article can be sourced here.

We have invited Simon Gilchrist from Gilbert+Tobin and his practice group partners to provide a guest posting on this blog which is in some ways related to this where he discusses his innovative role change, and the firm's evolving approach to direct fee earner professional support. Stay tuned.

G+T Continue Innovation

Gilbert+Tobin have continued their leadership in legal service provision innovation, with what else but a client focused blog on Innovation! The subject matter is prepared by some of the leading thinkers in this space, and includes interesting summaries and comments on the recent Cutler Report on Innovation in Australia.

Check it out and sign up
here. Bravo to the G+T partners and staff.
**** UPDATE ****
Following on from our posting earlier in the week on the G+T Innovation Blog, the ALB Magazine has also mentioned the firm's new approach in an online article here.

Interwoven in Asia-Pac

Interwoven have continued to penetrate the Asia-Pac market with their document management system with wins at Indian firm J Sagar Associates, and a major sweep across Singaporean firms including Allen & Gledhill, Colin Ng & Partners , KhattarWong, Rajah & Tann, Rodyk & Davidson. Malaysian firms Shearn Delamore and Zaid Ibrahim & Co have also announced their move to Interwoven. Thanks to Charles for the original posting.

Simmons & Simmons Goes Live With Recommind

International firm Simmons & Simmons has successfully deployed the Recommind MindServer Enterprise Search application this month across 20 offices worldwide.

Those of you who were at the Janders Dean Law Firm Knowledge Management conference in Sydney earlier in the year will recall our keynote speaker David Fitch (Director of Knowledge Management for Simmons & Simmons) discussing this as an upcoming initiative.

In the official Recommind press release, David states "In a law firm of our size, it's critical that we can take control of the huge volume of information stored across our systems. It's the knowledge these systems contain that sets us apart from our competition."

"The Recommind solution is proving to be as user-friendly and effective as we'd hoped and it's been simple to roll this out across our global offices without having to make huge investments in training and with no major upheaval to our staff. Through the implementation of Recommind MindServer, we're expecting to significantly reduce the amount of time lawyers spend searching for information and thereby gain a quick return on our investment."

Janders Dean send our best wishes to the team at Simmons & Simmons as they move forward with this - we're looking forward to hearing more from David exclusively on this. You rock!

Friday, September 12, 2008

APAC Law Firm LinkedIn Groups Started

An increasing number of our LinkedIn contacts have started to utilise the application more after a short break - primarily given the advanced feature set associated with 'Groups' and the 'Discussion Forum' functionality has been released.

The wonderful Peter Campbell (CIO) has established an APAC specific Legal Technology Group this week, and we strongly recommend membership to it. Click this link to join.

The group consists of IT Directors, CIO's and technology department personnel from law firms that operate in Australia/Asia Pacific. It is a forum for sharing ideas on common issues facing people in Legal Technology. A similar group was established around the same time this week and for the same purpose; however after close collaboration with Miles, Peter, and Simon this has now been removed so that we can consolidate/combine these and avoid confusion.

Membership is open primarily to people who are in these roles (or have been in them) in law firms. Both Peter and Miles Ashcroft of Freehills will manage this group moving forward, and members are encouraged to utilise the discussion forums and networking features.

In addition to this group, an APAC Law Firm Knowledge Management Group has been created here. Simon Gilchrist of Gilbert+Tobin will be taking responsibility for this - particularly relevant for Simon to do so given the new and innovative knowledge intensive leadership role that the firm have entrusted to him. This group is to focus on the more traditional Knowledge Management fields; however cross over into technologies topics will no doubt occur. Charles carried a recent posting on the international versions here.

We encourage you to join both of these local APAC groups - we also suggest you join the international versions of these here (for Knowledge Management) and here (for IT). Each group takes about twenty seconds to join and requires no additional information from you. Peter, Simon, Miles and all those involved in the groups understand the value of these, and you can be sure that membership will be a positive experience for all.

So that is four groups we recommend you sign up to as soon as possible - the power of these groups comes from the size of the membership and utilisation of the discussion features - the APAC market is known for its positive collaboration and sharing across firms and peers, so get out there and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Friday's Cocktail Leadership

Well good morning (or afternoon) everyone, and welcome to Friday! Yet another busy week for the team at Janders Dean, but we still have all our teeth.

This week we say a special Romper Room Magic Mirror hello to the Freehills team who have been busy rolling out their matter centric Interwoven design with the help of the team from Alphawest, while also being busy little beavers planning out their next fun event. The teams in KM and IS are doing excellent work together under pressure, and we're awe struck. Rock on.

Hello to our new client team in Beijing who are exceptionally busy planning out the next few weeks and collating materials!

What a massive first birthday party we had - thanks to every one of our lovely clients and pals for an excellent evening of celebrations. Sorry that Sparky couldn't be there...we're all looking forward to our next fun client event when we have an evening with Ferran Adria from elBulli. Yum!

We also say hi to the ReedSmith crew, and thank Guru Tom for his mention on the blog, and his ILTA List recommendation of the Janders Dean team. Speaking of ILTA, welcome home to the APAC law firm representatives.

This year's events witnessed a massive concentration on the Knowledge Management space, and some great sessions on SharePoint, Office 2007, Enterprise Search, and Web2.0 technologies. It is interesting to see (in our opinion) that the Web2.0 presentation content and discussion forums indicated that the US may still be slightly behind the UK and the APAC region on their analysis of this area.

For copies of any of the ILTA 2008 presentations, simply go to this link and check them out. A massive range of resources to review - and if you are not a member yet, you should be. Janders Dean was proud this year to bring you the first Knowledge Management for Law Firms conference in Sydney, and we were happy to have ILTA there to spread the good word.

What are you up to this weekend?

If you are playing ball games, have you ever thought about what happened when the ball you were playing with in the back yard went over the neighbour's fence (or roof if it was a big hit) and was subsequently lost? No? Haven't thought about that for a while huh...OK....well imagine you were from another planet or universe (oh come along) and then think about the fact that you might be really really what would happen if you smashed it hard and your ball went flying then? Answer here.

Anyway...we're off at the end of an exhausting week now to grab some well deserved cocktails...and we'll see you later on with some news. Be good. Oh by the way...why don't you treat yourself to a spa day this weekend? Go on, you know you deserve it. Wrap it up!

A last thought....Christmas is 15 weeks away. A special delivery from Korea is only 2 weeks away. Bleasdale's 30th is 3 weeks away....and Golden Week is just around the corner!

P.S. We've noticed that our "posting hosting" for the blog is a little out of whack recently, so a few of you may have received some strange old versions this morning at a weird time - apologies for that, but hey, you were just happy to hear from us right?