Less is More

Less is more. This rule may be the key to the successful implementation of new KM applications.

At LegalTech last week I heard something that initially seemed slightly counterintuitive, but on further reflection made perfect sense. Meredith Williams, Director of Knowledge Management at Baker Donelson, spoke about her preferred way of integrating new functionality into her firm’s systems. Instead of dumping a new KM product on her practitioners in an undigested mass, she breaks the product into its component pieces and then slides them under the hood of her existing applications. So what the user experiences is an enhancement that is well-integrated into a familiar interface. There’s no need to force the user to change to a vendor-specified interface. By eliminating some of the visual and physical barriers to entry, Meredith and her team improve the odds of user adoption and (dare we say it) user satisfaction.

Since we were at a West-sponsored seminar, we saw examples of her approach using West products. Meredith had taken West KM for Transactions and configured it to play nicely with Word. So if a corporate lawyer needed quick access to a precedent while drafting, all they would need to do is type a search query into the simple search box in the side pane of the screen. That search would run against the West KM index and display the results in that pane. If the results contained the desired language, all the lawyer would have to do is highlight the text and it would automatically be pasted into the lawyer’s draft. How easy is that? And, best of all, from the lawyer’s perspective it just happened while drafting. There was no need to switch windows, figure out what application to use, launch a new program, or copy and paste the needed text.

By focusing on a limited set of functionality you reduce the number of moving parts that require your attention and increase the odds of achieving a targeted, sensible and seamless implementation. Who wouldn’t want that?

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