Starting a KM Program
ILTA August 25, 2008 10:30 am
These are my notes from the program. [Since I am taking paper-free notes and because there is free Wi-Fi here, I thought that I’d add the notes to the blog. Disclaimer: my notes are rough, so forgive the typos.]
Mara Nickerson, Nola Vanhoy, Cherylyn Briggs, Elizabeth Ellis.
- Who should lead the KM effort?
- There is great diversity in the structure and placement of KM within law firms.
- Where does KM fit within the organization?
- Who owns the the projects and applications?
- If KM is new and not a part of some of other group, beware of stepping on others toes because just about every initiative can be considered a KM initiative.
- Common is a battle between KM and IT because many KM projects are technology based.
- At Osler KM is a team approach
- At Dickstein – KM is under the CIO umbrella, their research attorneys and librarians are close with the practicing attorneys.
- Service -orientented attitude is important.
- Get perspective from other departments.
- Stealth approach – don’t call it “KM” start small, show the value of the projects and initiatives, and then roll it out.
Identifying and Prioritizing the need for Knowledge Management
- Gather Information.
- Use knowledge audit template.
- Start with firm’s business plan – be a direct contriutor to the buisness plan.
- What are the firms practice groups? Do they have silos – files, precedents, etc. that can be organized and shared throughout the firm?
- Start with small steps, incremental.
- Communication is critical: especially with the IT group.
- Tip: (one of my favorite that I always share with people): show lawyers how to find the things that you found for them. I call it “give them a fish AND teach them to fish.”
- Key: find out how information flows in your firm.
- Don’t just jump on the band wagon – don’t do something just because another firm is doing it. And, you may have to adjust within your firm, e.g., you may need to provide different options to different practice groups.
- Most of the crowd are not lawyers.
- KM is all about context!
- Comfort zone: KM lawyers may have an easier time getting buy-in from the practicing attorneys at the firm.
- Two levels of buy-in: senior executive (lawyers) & senior management (admin groups)
- [I agree – don’t assume that lawyers – or anyone else at the firm knows or understands what KM is about or what KM at your firm is all about].
- One speaker encouraged firm to have a KM partner in each department.
- [let’s face it, if you’re not a partner, lawyers are rarely going to read your emails]
- KM is a cost to the firm [so you have to justify it].
- Try to show (rather than just describe) things because so many things are hard to describe (e.g., a portal, RSS)
- try to have a lawyer sponsor of a project – but make sure they are aware of the responsibilities of being a sponsor.
- be pragmatic and patient.
- low hanging fruit: start with the projects that you can deliver easily and show the results.
- there is no silver bullet: no one system will do everything your firm needs.
Where to Start
- Project management is essential
- use external resources like the ILTA listserve to help you plan your approach.
- don’t forget about client-facing projects – can be a lot of bang for the buck: e.g., 50 state surveys.
- bring in the power users for the focus group.
- establish the focus group right from the outset.
- have a facilitator there (not you) if you expect any political issues. [this would be a true PM approach]
- mock ups are critical for such groups – helps people visualize what the project is all about.
- Requirements Document – definitely need this for the sign-off process. Helps make sure you are doing what you say you’re doing. This is a living document – don’t be afraid to change it if needed.
- Pilot the project – allow time and gather the feedback for it. Make adjustments based on feedback.
- Develop [and refine] the elevator speech about the project – relate it to your audience. Know it back and forth so that you can communicate it.
Measuring Success – Communicating Value
- demonstrate and articulate value even if you are not asked to.
- Agree at the start how success will be measured [this is so important! how do you know if you are successful if you don’t know what success means? this also helps prevent the problem of the moving-target.]
- use metrics, if possible: hits, views, etc. on intranet / portal / other applications.
- user satisfaction / use anecdotes [but metrics are much more tangible]
- consider balanced score card approach.
- client satisfaction: many clients in their RFPs, want to know what the firm is doing from a KM perspective.
- can KM make the work of an attorney more efficient [key question]
- focus on measuring the success of initiatives, rather than the whole KM program.
- when should you measure? probably several points along the way.
- record the time committed to building the project.
- follow up with users: why did they use it, or why not?
- get user feed back regularly.
- track success stories.
- build an end-of-year report based on all of the data information you’ve collected.
- reporting is essential.
Nice presentation. LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms