Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Making of a Global Intranet at Linklaters

The leading law firm empowers 4,600 staff to collaborate and share knowledge on ‘InSite’ - a new SharePoint 2013 global intranet across 20 countries. 

Linklaters, is a multinational law firm that specialises in practice areas such as corporate, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), capital markets, banking and finance. "One of our biggest challenges is managing the vast amount of content required to be successful in such a knowledge-driven industry. We need to ensure that our employees have all the information they need to perform their tasks effectively," says Global Intranet Manager Angela Rossiter.

To face this challenge the firm launched InSite six months ago.

Rolled out with the support of Brightstarr, the SharePoint 2013 global platform sets out to empower 4,600 staff across 20 countries with easy access to "trusted knowledge that they need to do their job."

The business case

The previous intranet, based on a SharePoint 2007 solution, was reaching its technological limits. "Employees could not quickly find what they needed. Searching for information had become slow and laborious with searches rarely returning relevant results."

Rossiter was given feedback such as: “the intranet doesn’t help me in my work. I don’t use it as I can’t find anything. Too many clicks. I give up when I still can’t find what I need.”

It became apparent that they had to re-invest in the platform, to enable knowledge management and effective enterprise collaboration.

Start with a defined scope

Having clear objectives helped them going through the change. It was particularly important to set a vision, which was to “empower our people with trusted knowledge, enabling excellence and efficiency through collaboration and sharing globally.”

This was summarised in three words: "Find" – people can find the useful resources they need to do their jobs; "Connect" – people can connect with others who can help them do their jobs; and "Collaborate" – people can use online tools and resources to collaborate globally.


An engaging start 

The homepage was completely redesigned with a mixture of internal and external news. "The internal news feeds has become a hub for delivering information from across the business. Firm-wide messages get out fast empowering staff to remain connected to the wider organisation, values and culture."

Rich media and the use of imagery also help to engage employees the moment they access the site. "For example, there are clear and incisive areas on InSite that intuitively guide staff to the location of the knowledge they need."

In addition, the external news feed brings in the latest information on key markets where Linklaters operates. "This is very useful since it provides a real time summary of developing legal and business updates worldwide."

The personal touch 

Rossiter has a strong guiding principle to the personalisation of content, "to make InSite the one place staff go to get work done, by making it both essential and personal." She wants to enable employees to easily access the tools relevant to them, along with the resources that they use most frequently.

'My Apps' and 'My Links' enable precisely this. The features allow staff to customise the apps and links that they use regularly to appear on the homepage.

This personalisation was hugely successful. In the first 48 hours after the site launched, there were over 850 unique links created, 3,000 searches conducted and more than 160,000 page views recorded. "This marked an important staff transition from passive to engaged users as they began putting InSite to work immediately."


A better search experience

A focus on knowledge management was central to the success of InSite. The firm was primarily storing information in the form of pages, such as news articles, blog posts or wiki pages. But, to make this information usable, it had to become findable, which was not always the case.

Linklaters' project team decided to categorise all the content through a new taxonomy, which unified all the global terms used across the intranet.

"Search results can now be filtered by the taxonomy driven terms. With this in place, employees' search experience has greatly improved."

Today, Rossiter receives feedback such us “the new and faster search functionality is the change which has made the biggest impact to my daily working life. I love it!” or "comparing this to the old intranet is like comparing a fountain pen to cuneiform seals. The look, feel and ease of use - not to mention the ability to customise - is fantastic!" or "the layout is very user-friendly and thus allows me to save time. I have all the apps and links that I need right on the first page. I can access them with one click and I can personalise them according to my needs."

Trusted content

Some of the information stored in the old intranet was of little or no value. An extensive exercise around content migration to ensure that InSite only had the most important and relevant information was conducted. "In such a knowledge-driven organisation, you only build trust if people find truly valuable information."

"We were able to identify 430 global content curators. They reviewed and supported any “clean-up” needed across over 100,000 pieces of content, making sure that what was migrated had real business value." This was supported greatly by a network of Intranet Champions established as part of their new governance framework.

Additionally, she developed a series of migration principles including ensuring clear ownership and accountability.

"I wanted to ensure that people could find content which clearly stated who its owner was. Having a clear and visible point of contact, knowing who is responsible for keeping a piece of information up to date, helps to maintain trust. Plus, with clear indication of creation and last modified dates, you get an immediate sense of how current something is."


We are all communicators

"Our homepage provides a place where global and personalised local office news and information is shared enabling people to communicate and collaborate in ways that years ago were not possible."

Linklaters approaches internal social media in different ways. Blogs are used for creating office news as well as global news. Newsletters are generated directly from the intranet and shared on a weekly or as needed basis.

In addition, over 100 blog sites support a whole range of legal and business activities. For example, blogs are used for legal practice knowledge sharing both locally and globally. "They help people to keep up to date on what is happening in the market place and latest developments, and enable people to have conversations around a topic should they wish."

Others are used to support teams such as "the Knowledge Management team, who use them regularly to collaborate across countries".

There are also blogs to support internal networks including such as 'Women @ Linklaters', which is used as a community of interest to engage females on a range of topics.

Linklaters is now looking at building upon this using social technologies "to further enhance collaboration and the sharing of knowledge across the firm."

Training people

Attention was paid to employee communication and education. "We saw the project as being primarily about people and behaviour. We never underestimated the impact of change on individuals."

Over 50 awareness sessions on 'how to do', for example about changing My Apps and My Links. Plus, they ran an extensive programme around how to use wiki pages, blogs, lists and surveys in the new intranet.

A short video was available and shown to people during team meetings. This was particularly useful in giving people, "particularly our busy lawyers who don't have time to attend an awareness session, " a brief overview of what the new intranet would provide and how they could tailor to meet their needs. This was supplemented with brief user guides.

"We didn't just need a new intranet to overcome the inefficiencies of the previous one. We wanted to build a global collaboration solution that could grow with the firm. It is through managing expectations and the delivery of an on-going training programme, that we will continue to support our people to achieve our business goals."

It is about taking people with you

Rossiter makes a few final important considerations: "Don't let the technology drive you. Think about what problem you are trying to fix, your content, the migration process and all the changes involved in the process. You are introducing a new way of working. Don't underestimate its impact. Give plenty of support. Ultimately, it is about taking people with you on that journey."

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This article originally appeared on simply-communicate