Selling Enterprise Search in Your Law Firm

The first sessions at the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) conference have begun.  I’m at the Information Management track listening to Tom Baldwin, Joshua Fireman, and Peter Krakaur talk about Selling Enterprise Search in Your Organization.

Here are some key points (please fogive any typos – I’m doing this on the fly to get it out there quickly):

  • Don’t let the vendor define the scope.  Figure out what your firm needs and acquire the technology that works for you – not necessarily the tech the vendor is trying to sell.
  • Don’t rely on the users (especially lawyers) to tell you what they need  or how you should deliver it.  They are experts in the law – not in tech.
  • Think big about all the stuff that you want to include in your finished product.  What are the buckets that you want to include?
  • Manage the “Google expectation” – these systems will not be as simple as Google.  You’ll need some training.
  • Don’t under estimate the manpower that you’ll need to maintain these systems.  Expect that you’ll need at least a part time (probably a full time) person to keep the systems running.
  • Think about strategies beyond KM and IT – what about records management?  Think about the full life cycle of the information your firm needs to manage.
  • Figure out what’s important to your firm.  Is it work product retrieval?  CRM? ERM? a basic intranet?
  • Think of search as an enterprise integration layer that is very good at finding things.
  • You should have a good business case to present the strategy to the firm.
  • Security by obscurity – be careful of documents that will come to the surface when you start an enterprise search project.  These same documents were there before but were “hidden” just because they were hard to find.  Make sure those documents (reviews, employee compensation memos, etc.) are secure before going live with the project because people will find them.
  • Don’t get lost in over design and over “tweaking” the system at the outset.
  • Google Paradox – manage the expectations of your users.  They can find anything on Google – why can’t they find something on a server three floors away within the firm?  Manage their expectations early.
  • “Selling” after the roll out: beware of “If you build it, they will come” approach.
  • Don’t leave to chance the perception of the system to the users.  Don’t forget to follow up after the roll out.  See how people are using it.   Make sure they are using it properly.  Drive adoption and utilization.
  • Pre-launch communications are only the start…
  • How to sell the goods.  Analyze the usage and compare it by practice group, office, and role.  You need firm-wide messages, but also target certain groups.  Let your users do the selling: have the power users evangelize for you: a partner endorsing the system means more than you doing it.  Use “other” ways to reach people – not just email; use webinars, live presentations, etc.  Tom at Reed Smith uses videos of lawyers talking about the system – very effective.
  • Maintaining the system.  You’ll need people to do this (at least a pert time position).  Find out who is not using the system and focus on them.   Reporting is key for maintenance.  Check out the firm-wide emails – see what people are asking, then do the search for them and send them a “friendly reminder” email (give them a fish, and teach them to fish).
  • Marketing is really important.  ATV campaign Awareness, Training, and Visibility.

Great presentation.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

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