Peer to Peer Magazine

March 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 30 of 111

CASE STUDIES The Successful Intranet: Fast, Cheap and Open Source William Caraher, CIO at von Briesen & Roper, s.c. T he Milwaukee-based law firm, von Briesen & Roper, s.c., recently set out to create a completely new, fresh and modern intranet. The firm’s old intranet was very text heavy, lacked external news content, only allowed for HTML-based editing, lacked any real graphical elements and suffered from dated, static content. As with most intranets, content management was always a chore, and the responsibility fell on a select few HTML experts. Things like office diagrams and forms — which change regularly — were usually out of date and required continual version control and monitoring. The intranet redesign process began with a vision from the firm’s forward-looking managing partner, Randall Crocker. He loved the look and feel of iGoogle, and he challenged my team and the marketing department to reproduce an iGoogle-like intranet. He wanted: • Movable gadget boxes with external and internal content • A powerful search bar that could query both the intranet and the Internet • A customizable intranet experience for all users • Customized default intranet views on a practice-by- practice or office-by-office basis While this was a tall order on a limited budget, I felt the team was up to the challenge. SKIPPING SHAREPOINT As someone who has attended many ILTA and third-party presentations on intranets, I was no stranger to the fact that Microsoft SharePoint has been the go-to solution for most who embark on an intranet redesign. While the team considered SharePoint, we also investigated the universe 32 Peer to Peer solicits entries in their annual contest for the best intranets and then awards the distinction of “best design” to the top ten sites. Past winners include intranets from Walmart, GE, British Telecom and other Fortune 500 companies. The report helped me come up with additional concepts and evaluate the methodologies of other design and implementation teams. A few of the award-winning intranets were based on the SharePoint platform, so that returned to the realm of consideration. But, once the licensing and hardware requirements for SharePoint were closely evaluated, it was clear that it was not a cost-effective solution: the firm was looking at over $25,000 in initial SharePoint licensing fees, plus an annual subscription for the enterprise license agreement. of software solutions to find out what else was out there. A design firm came up with a few traditional intranet wireframes, which were then reviewed with the managing partner. However, they were ultimately rejected because they were not modular like iGoogle. Eventually, I came across the Neilson Norman Group’s annual intranet design awards and report. This group “Content management was always a chore, and the responsibility fell on a select few HTML experts.” Find more online! Watch the recorded webinar “DropThings: A Killer, Open Source Alternative to SharePoint.” Go to “Webinar Recordings” from the Recordings tab at

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