2012 SLA KM for Libraries Webinar


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Launching a KM project in a law firm

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2012 SLA KM for Libraries Webinar

  1. 1. Internet Librarian 2011 Knowledge Management in Law Libraries Jaye A. H. Lapachet, MLIS Camille D. Reynolds, MLSKnowledge Management has morphed completely in the last 10 years within legalorganizations. Before KM of the 90s, information management was people managinginformation. In the 1990s KM was introduced largely as a technology solution. Organizationsinvested heavily in technology solutions that proposed to tame and connect the disparateinformation silos. The promise of KM fell a bit flat especially within law firms where technologycould not solely solve the search, retrieve and connect problem. The focus of KM startedto change to be more about process improvement and efficiency driven by the economicdownturn and client pressure to drive down legal costs. Around the same time, libraries withinlaw firms are going through changes brought on by similar pressures. The convergence ofthese pressures present a unique opportunity for Librarians to improve their organizations andbetter serve their users and their clients by being involved in KM initiatives within their firms.Librarians are often best suited to contribute or lead KM initiatives within their firm because theyalready have a good sense of their users information seeking behaviors along with the culture oftheir organization. This knowledge can be applied to successful KM initiatives that will help theirFirm know what they know and find what they have. KM has come around again.Definition of KMThe traditional view of Knowledge Management (KM) is narrowly defined as managing theinformation assets of the Firm. This can include creating directories of model documents;organizing precedent banks; providing current awareness; implementing search technology.These activities are more concerned with documents than processes. The KM key is to linkthe directories and other sources in a usable, familiar interface. KM activities should be closelyrelated to the core practice of law that focusing on “managing” legal knowledge.However, the practical side of law firm management dictates that, as the legal marketplacecontinues to evolve, lawyers know they also need to be good at the business of law — thedeveloping of client relationships, the winning of business, the hiring and nurturing of excellenttalent and the running of an efficient and humane firm. Any one of these tasks would be aformidable challenge.Knowledge managers need to provide support to their firms for both the practice of law andthe business of law. In the current competitive landscape KM is even more important as ourpeople and our expertise continue to be our biggest assets. Managing the flow of expertise andknowledge is key to remaining competitive and efficient. The Library is a key player in engagingthe organization in appropriate and successful KM initiatives.KM is a program of organizational change.The biggest problem with Knowledge Management is that it is not a familiar term in law firms.The second biggest problem is perception. When KM is discussed in a law firm the frequentresponse is an eye-roll or a blank stare. Library is discussed more than KM. The KM failure ofthe 1990s is part of the reaction, but, also, people simply dont know what KM really means.KM is capturing the good stuff in peoples heads and repurposing it.Law firms are not, intrinsically, places where people share. Lawyers are focused on serving the 1
  2. 2. needs of their clients and billing their time. If they can’t find their materials, they can’t work. TheLibrarians’ job is to create the infrastructure and the culture where knowledge flows through thefirm using technology AND human connections. Librarians are uniquely positioned to do this,because we work with everyone from the Managing Partner and Executive Director to the guyin the mailroom. Law firm librarians are often involved in the lifecycle of matters from the CIand credit check process to docketing, library research, file help, content help and file closing.Librarians can connect the dots and provide context.KM has changed. Today, KM is directed towards the business of law in order to enable firmsto remain competitive. Remaining competitive means improving efficiency. Everything in a lawfirm has been scrutinized in the past and has had to prove its value. After a firm cuts costs andpeople what you have left is effectively managing the flow and repurposing of knowledge. It canhave an impact, because it connects people with what they need.People in law firms generally forget that it takes more than a lawyers billable hour or an onlinedatabase search to run a firm. The combination of the minute pieces of knowledge contributeto a firms success should be acknowledged as valuable, and exploited to run the firm moreefficiently.The Library RoleWhat is necessary for a successful KM project and how can Librarians contribute?Librarians are uniquely situated to be a bridge in structuring information in the way ourusers want and need to consume it. Librarians within organizations already have experiencestructuring the unstructured information that arrives in their libraries in such a way to meet theneeds of their patrons. Librarians are often seen at the content curators of the organization.They are responsible for procuring, managing and training attorneys and staff on the use ofthird party information products. Librarians can apply the same skills to in-house sourcedinformation. A Librarian’s understanding of his/her user base and their information seekingbehaviors can also serve as an excellent bridge between operational and IT staff. Librarianscan provide insight on how best to train users in KM tools since they already know how usersinterface with existing third party tools such as Lexis or Westlaw. One example of this isseamless access without password requirements. IP authentication lowers barriers andcontributes to successful adoption. Librarians know they need to make information available inways users prefer to consume it and not in ways publishers think it should be consumed.KM is about the content and not the container. There are many containers (formats) that canbe captured within KM including websites, book chapters, articles, internal documents, whitepapers (internal and external), other ad hoc materials. The focus should be on organizingand disseminating the content and not discriminating by container. The container is irrelevant;content, and accessibility to it, is key.Sources of information within the organization such as people’s knowledge and internal workproduct need to be considered. Because it is unique and has firm institutional knowledge,internal information could be the most valuable information, especially for client development.The way internal information is organized can add more value than the information itself. If anattorney can put their hands on a piece of information that solves a client’s problem quickly andefficiently, and with predictability, the attorney can deliver better client service for less cost andmore profit. This is the potential of KM. Librarians already hold many of the skills necessary todeliver these kinds of solutions. KM is a new way of thinking about managing information overwhich Librarians are stewards.Must Haves for a Successful KM Project 2
  3. 3. "It’s not about buying and rolling out technology, it’s not about giving people new toys, and it’snot about adding another task into the project framework – it’s about changing the way peoplethink." (Dec 20, 2010, Knoco Stories blog / Top 7 reasons why KM implementations fail: http://bit.ly/oKUs6N )In order for a successful KM project, it is critical to, first, identify a champion or stakeholderwho can help solidify support from upper management. Having a high level champion will helpinsure success by generating buy-in from upper management and those the KM project willbenefit. It is also important to get buy-in from affected staff, such as Librarians, Records staff,Secretaries etc. If you do not have a champion, walk away from the project, no matter howmuch you long to implement KM. If you do not have staff excitement, take the time to generateit before moving ahead. You cannot successfully complete this project without your staff.Organizational change cannot be implemented without organizational buy-in.Getting organizational buy-in and/or finding a champion will take time. You must network. Seizeopportunities to discuss KM (skip the lingo) at meetings and other events. When training one-on-one, listen for clues about problems the user is having finding information and suggestthat KM solutions might be possible. When you have put a generated some buzz, start yourproposal.Defining the KM ProjectSecond, you must define what KM means for your organization. The definition your organizationuses, which you (and a team??) develop, will be different from the general definition above.No organization, especially law firms, fit neatly into the ‘Normal’ box. You will need to take intoaccount what information sources should be included, what people or practice areas will beinvolved and the organizational culture. Your organization’s definition of KM will inform how youdefine the project.It is imperative to start small with KM. You can plan big and determine that you will organizethe entire universe of your firm and assume that everyone will buy-in. You will fail. Start a verysmall scale pilot with a single group of users or a practice group. Think, and make notes, aboutscaling up during the pilot as thinking long term will will prepare you for the future of the project.One of the most important reasons to start small is to have a chance at demonstratingsuccess. Demonstrating success on a small scale project will fuel interest in future largerscale KM projects. Starting small will demonstrate the value and usefulness of KM within theorganization, which will make your champion look good. Success will, in turn, create additionalsupporters who sign on to become champions for the next phase of project. Achieve successhow you can, because it, ultimately, makes the organization more nimble and efficient. Small,successful projects pave the way.The next step, after you determine your firm definition of KM is to define the project scope.Implementing a KM project successfully hinges on defining the problem the project will solve. “At its heart, KM concerns itself with solving business problems” (Lasteres 2011 p. 23).Answering this question should be at the heart of every KM project. What problem is this KMproject solving? Define the problem to be solved and stick to it religiously. By defining a discreteproblem to solve you have the information you need to scale the project to a manageable size.You can always scale the project up once you have demonstrated its value and generatedinterest. By starting small you can also utilize fewer resources and “prove the value” beforerequesting a large organizational investment of additional staff and money.Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you can do this project 100% with existing resources. Youcan’t. As Librarians we are constantly managing multiple priorities and dropping everything 3
  4. 4. to meet attorney and client needs. A KM project must be planned out like any other complexproject, so your next step is to draft a plan. Once your plan is drafted you will have theinformation you need to evaluate the resources needed in terms of staffing and budget. Youmay be able to clear out some space staff schedules by surveying the team’s existing duties. asurvey and realignment of tasks will allow them to take part.Survey questions to answer: ● Are there tasks you are doing that are not high value? ● Are there things that could be combined with other tasks to be more efficient and thereby freeing up staff time to take on duties related to the KM project. ● Are there out of date tasks that are no longer needed to run your department? ● Are your staff duplicating chores of another department? ● Have low value tasks been dumped on your department?An internal review of this type will also inform you of the need for outside resources, such asdata entry people or additional cloud based storage. Staffing and budget have to be clear andwell thought out, so the project gets the go ahead with the extra money and staff it needs to besuccessful. It is not reasonable or advisable to assume you can complete even a small scaleKM project by assigning additional tasks to existing staff. You must also be realistic about whatyour staff can do and allocate the time accordingly. If you have a part-time person don’t heapfull time work on that person. One scalable option is to utilize a temp for the project. Temphours can be adjusted as needed. If the person is successful in your firm environment, s/hecan be hired permanently. It is important to have staff on the project that understand and knowhow to define the hierarchy of information. This is another reason to do a review of your existingoperations and staff to understand where additional bandwidth of your team is available.Reality Check KM was in vogue in 1990s law firms. At that time KM was viewed mostly as a technology solution and many KM ventures failed. 2011’s KM is not the KM of the 1990s. We now know that solutions are not all about technology. Information is more complex. With the advent of the Web and its myriad of subscription online services, websites and blogs KM has to expand. "While supposedly getting more done in less time through our immersion into digital technology, we are actually working more slowly, absorbing information less effectively, and hampering our capacity for analytic reasoning. " (O’Dell & Hubert “Knowledge management in a newContext” http://bit.ly/nkUfGR ) This is a perfect way to sell KM. A KM system, well implementedand once fully functional, will allow people to retrieve information regardless of whether they areefficient or not. It may help them regain some of their efficiency.KM today is being driven by 4 different forces according to the updated volume “The NewEdge in Knowledge: How Knowledge Management Is Changing the Way We Do Business, byCarla O’Dell and Cindy Hubert (American Productivity & Quality Center, 2011). The four forcesinclude: ● digital immersion ● social computing ● demographics and dynamics ● mobile devices and video 4
  5. 5. These forces offer challenges and enhancements to the potential and practice of KM.Digital immersion is a force that touches most modern workers. We are experiencing digitaltechnology almost every aspect of our lives, not the least of which is the expectation of 24/7connectivity. This force is affecting how we work and live. Multitasking is the norm whether it iseffective or not. Clifford Nass, a professor at Stanford University, states that his data suggestthat “multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking.” (O’Dell & Hubert 2011). Dr. Nass’findings are clear “While supposedly getting more done in less time through our immersion intodigital technology, we are actually working more slowly, absorbing information less effectively,and hampering our capacity for analytic reasoning.” (O’Dell & Hubert 2011). The cultural workshift described means that KM projects need to adapt in order to align with employees’ time andattention limitations. For example, we should assume employees are multitasking and that isn’tmaking them perform more efficiently. We shouldn’t assume that an employee will rememberwhere to find a critical piece of information when they need it. These assumptions shouldinform the structure and approach of your KM project. As a result, our KM approaches shouldn’tinterrupt employees but should be built into their existing workflow.Social Computing, or social media, is the second force affecting KM implementations. Nearlyone-fourth of the world’s 1.8 billion Internet users have profiles on social networking sites. Insome corners social computing is seen as a barrier crushing application. The strength of socialcomputing is based on the theory that content improves as more people interact with, andbuild on it. An excellent example involve wikis. People can see and easily access information,because they get a notice when shared pages have changed, they will interact with it. Peoplelearn better when they are interested in a topic. Social computing has trained people to interactwith information through the use of Facebook comments on others’ photos and status updatesor Twitter replies. Social Media has shown people that sharing information can be useful andfun. In a personal context, we see pictures of pets and kids. Using these tidbits of information,people have topics of conversation for later use. This is personal KM and it prepares them fororganizational KM.When utilizing social computing for KM projects, be realistic about participation rates. OnFacebook 80% of content is posted by 20% of users. On Twitter 90% of content is postedby 10% of users. When implementing a KM project with social computing, success maymean a small participation rate compared to other methods such as a work product sharingincentive program. An example of an effective social computing strategy might be havingsocial tagging available within the library catalog to give attorneys the ability to comment andpoint to resources that are helpful for their specialized area of law. This feature could also beused as a training tool for newer attorneys. Even popular social computing methods requireKM professionals to lead an effective KM strategy to insure engagement. There has to be astrategy behind the use of social computing.Social computing may be in a better place for core successful KM initiatives. People can beunimaginative in the work context. This may have been the cause, in addition to unrealisticexpectation, and failures of KM initiatives in the 90s. People are not stupid, however, and oncethey see the possibilities, they will extrapolate out. People are smart and will translate thatexperience to the professional environment. If they share, others will share with them, givingthem pieces of information to assimilate into a product they can use to land a client, impress apartner or finish their project in record time. Again, when people see KM success they will wantto join the party as well.Demographics and dynamics is the third force impacting KM today. The demographicsof today’s workforce is another reason to start KM in your organization. The country isexperiencing workforce mobility, a lack of institutional loyalty and constant layoffs. Add the 5
  6. 6. impending retirement of 77 million baby boomers and the result could a huge loss of tacit andorganizational knowledge. In addition to the demographics, organizations must continue tochange rapidly in order to remain competitive. They expect new employees to get up to speedfaster with fewer resources, because employers are looking for stronger revenues and higherproductivity. The development of a KM project should consider these evolving demographicsand power dynamics. Employees increasingly expect more engagement and information. Theywant to get at the information in the same way they do in their personal lives. People don’twant to use cumbersome archaic tools. Law firms historically get to this point more slowly thanother organization, but as any law firm IT person will tell you, the cat is out of the bag and theconsumerization of organizational IT has already happened.Mobile devices and video are the final force affecting KM. Mobile and video perhaps presentthe largest challenge and opportunity for engaging employees in KM initiatives. Things toconsider when implementing a KM project with regard to mobile devices and video are: ● Tablet vs. Smartphone - the difference in size gives them distinct attributes ● Appropriate information to deliver on the smaller screens of a smart phone vs. the larger screen of a tablet. QR Codes are very popular. If you set them up, what information is appropriate for people to look at on small screens? What information should be diverted via the mobile device to a larger device. ● What problem are you solving by enabling access on the mobile device? ● How do you manage security and risk?Remember to focus on the business problem to be solved by the KM project. Keep in mind youruser basebase and balance. Don’t become enamored with shiny gadgets that may or may nothave a role in solving that business problem.ToolsThe ultimate selection of the right tools is critical to the success of any KM project. In manyways knowledge is never truly managed but directed through the organization in the same waya water flows down a river. Use tools to customize products from third party vendors so you candisseminate information in a targeted, familar manner. Choose tools similar to consumer toolswith which people are familiar. Tools shouldn’t be used to constrain the flow of information.We discussed starting small in the planning stages, but it also applies to tool selection. Startingsmall means your project can utilize tools that already exist in your organization. You don’t haveto go through the trial and RFP process, which means that you start a test project sooner. Thisstrategy keeps the initial costs low, improves ROI, shows you are a team player and doesn’tcome out of partner pockets. You can also more easily switch tools, if the initial selection isn’tworking out.Tools such as wikis can be a great low cost tool to build a KM project. In both of our firms wehave utilized wikis to manage information, train staff and collaborate across our firms in aneasy to use platform that fits within existing workflows. At Nossaman, we use a wiki for the KMdepartment. We house best practices, research checklists for the librarians, risk managementchecklists for our records and docket folks and project pages for various team projects inprogress. At Coblentz, we use a wiki for the library procedure manual, cross departmentalknowledge sharing, personal orientation pages and a variety of information resources. The easeof use of the wiki makes it accessible to all staff and the email notifications of content changeshelp keep the team informed of procedure changes or helpful tips from team members.Other tools that can help build a successful KM project can include outside content sources likethe new WestlawNext foldering system. Research results are stored in folders gives the creator 6
  7. 7. the ability to share the research folders with others, including those outside the organization.Is this KM? We think it is a way of getting content to users who need it using tools withintheir current workflow, which is KM. It is important to look at all the tools to which your firmsubscribes and figure out what you can use.Templates and checklists can also be used as effective KM tools. They can be built usingexisting technology, such as word processing, or forms products such as Sharepoint Infopath.Vendor generated templates such as PBWorks’ KM template can also be a great starting point.KM project tools should also improve efficiency. The Coblentz library staff no longer prints oremails results from WestlawNext unless specifically requested. The new normal practice is tosave research results into folders and then share the folder with the attorney. The attorney canaccess the folder via a link emailed to them. This saves time in printing and collating results. Italso provides a container for the research that can then be shared across the attorney team ifneeded, leading to greater collaboration and less duplication of research. New attorneys addedto the case can also benefit from this shared folder concept as they can immediately see thesearch results that have already been organized.Whichever tools you select for your KM project, it is important to effectively combine the tools tosolve the identified business problem. The project may need to go in another direction if toolsaren’t working, which means that the leader of the project team has to be flexible. KM is notabout technology or tools its about identifying and solving a business problem using effectivestrategies for putting the knowledge in the hands of the user when they need it.Camille’s Case StudyHow can librarians transition into KM in their organization? Firm management approachedCamille with the proposal to turn the then Research and Risk Management Department into aKM Department, which would be granted responsibility and authority for all content systems.Content systems, at the launch of the new department, lived in a variety of departments andincluded the intranet, document management and customer relationship management systems.Organizationally, this was a logical extension of the Library’s mission i.e. to connect userswith the information and knowledge they need to do their job regardless of the origin of theinformation. Practically, we would be absorbing responsibility for information systems from otherdepartments.The first step to transitioning from a traditional library role to KM, in Camille’s experience, wasto get control of the organization’s purchased resources. Getting control of internal informationcan be addressed in many ways. One way is to start small with a single team or practice group.Find out how they utilize their information, how they collaborate or not and what THEIR clientswant. Then, design an infrastructure for delivering and sharing knowledge among the team thatmeets their work habits and captures internal information as its relevant within the workflow.Next, the new department needs to setup the structure for internal information so it can bedelivered in the way the users want to see it. Identify all the types of information and prioritizeso you can start with the highest priority. Develop a structure for the content that matches theway the users access other firm information. For example, our litigators wanted to file theirelectronic documents coming in from the court directly into our DMS, so our Records teamdesigned a system that matches the litigation case workflow. It provides a logical place to filedocuments and retrieve them quickly. Designing a structure for internal information will varyfrom firm to firm and it is best to start at the practice group level and expand.Case study of Jaye’s KM Project 7
  8. 8. In the course of providing some one-on-one training for a managing partner, he mentioned thatthere were too many disparate respositories of information and he wasn’t able to use them, oreven remember they were there. His dream was to create a one stop shop for his information.Jaye realized that this was why people used Google (they knew where to find it, could put ina few words and generally get to their secondary source) and knew she had to create somesort of directory that linked people to the information they needed. She started a pilot usingPBWorks and one practice area to gather all information for that practice area in a topic orientedstructure. Using the pilot, Jaye was able to identify the pros and cons of the proposed systemand write up a proposal. The proposal included: ● a definition of KM for our firm ● proposed tools ● description of types of content ● process for testing ● the perceived value the system would bring to the firm ● results and resulting thoughtsThis project is being debated in the upper echelons of the firm, but members of the Library teamare adding information on an ad hoc basis.ChallengesImplementing a successful KM project, even a small one, has challenges. Even a smallproject requires a significant amount of work to ensure project success. Change managementis the biggest challenge, especially if your KM project requires your users to change theirworkflow. To overcome this challenge, limit the impact on day to day workflows and build theKM infrastructure into existing workflows. Not only is this one way to contribute to success, butit will make the KM project seem to glide in under the firm radar. There is a fine line betweenadvertising your project and making the change seem too big and scary.Another challenge is money. KM projects can be very expensive in terms of both staff andfinancial resources. Starting small, as previously discussed, and being creative with existingtools can help manage this challenge.In any KM project whether large or small it often takes time for results to appear to users. Thisis a challenge, because you need to keep users engaged and committed. It often takes just oneor two success stories to win over skeptics. Positive stories spread, too. Look for opportunitiesto tell success stories about your project in a variety of venues, no matter how small.Working successfully with your IT department can also be a challenge. KM is not a 100%technology solution, though technology is integral. A key to overcoming this challenge is,first, foster mutual respect for your disparate departments and, 2) understand your firm’s ITcapabilities. Get to know the IT team, take them to lunch so you can listen to their concerns andempathize with their unique challenges. Involve them in every technology related step of the KMprocess. Keep them in the loop on non-technology related aspects. Give credit where credit isdue. IT is a key partner in any KM project and having their support and assistance is critical tothe success of your KM project.A final challenge is finding a foolproof method for measuring success of a KM project. You maynever completely overcome this challenge, no matter how carefully you have planned, becauseof the complexity of the project. There are a lot of moving parts. However, by defining whatsuccess means for your project at the start, you and your team will be able to keep focus on theelements that will make your defined project a success by your firm’s standards. Implementstandard measurement tools, such as webstats or usage stats, where available, cost effective 8
  9. 9. and possible. Some measurement criteria for a successful project could be things like timeto complete X task has been reduced by Y, or email traffic has decreased due to utilizationof social media or other collaboration technology, which clearly enhances efficiency andcommunication. Whatever metrics you choose its important to measure success in a standardway on an ongoing basis.ConclusionKM projects have a bad rep. KM projects are now more about people than technology. Thefocus is now on connecting people to the information they need via technology. Technology isnot the solution but people using technology effectively moves organizations closer to efficientknowledge sharing. It is important to overcome the 1990s reputation by networking, planning,scaling appropriately and partnering. Camille Reynolds is the Director of KM at Nossaman LLP Jaye Lapachet is the Manager of Library Services at Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP 9
  10. 10. BibliographyAbraham, V Mary (2011). “Creating optimal KM value strategy” http://aboveandbeyondkm.com/2011/08/creating-an-optimal-km-value-strategy-ilta11.htmlAbraham, V Mary (2011) “Google+ and Greta Garbo”: http://aboveandbeyondkm.com/2011/07/google-plus-and-greta-garbo.htmlAbram, Stephen (2011) “New Evolution of KM”. http://stephenslighthouse.com/2011/08/09/evolution-of-knowledge-management/Bowyer, Alex (2011) “Why files need to die” http://t.co/X25OzhYHBR article: Management Tip of the Day: 3 Ways to Turn Old Data into Gold: http://bit.ly/dFFsL1Lastres, Steven (2011) “Aligning through KM” Info Outlook v.15, n4, June 2011, pg.23-25Miller, Christian (2011) “Creating Intelligent Libraries by Christian Miller”. Info Outlook v.15, n4,June 2011.Milton, Nick (2010) “Top 7 Reasons KM implementations fail” http://www.nickmilton.com/2010/12/top-7-reasons-why-km-implementations.htmlO’Dell, Carla & Hubert, Cindy (2011) The New Edge in Knowledge: How KnowledgeManagement Is Changing the Way we do Business.O’Dell, Carla & Hubert, Cindy (2011) “KM in a new context” http://www3.cfo.com/article/2011/8/strategy_knowledge-management-in-a-new-contextPodboy, Alvin (2011) “Seeking Symbiosis: Expert researchers combine human and computerskills to get best search results” http://www.law.com/jsp/lawtechnologynews/PubArticleLTN.jsp?id=1202494754573&slreturn=1&hbxlogin=1Riccio, Holly (2011) AALL Spectrum “Everything old is new again” http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/Vol-15/May-2011/pub-sp1105-KM.pdfRusanow, Gretta (2003). ALM. KM and the Smarter Lawyer 10