Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ILTA Session: Dashboards and Warehouses

These are my notes from the fifth session in the KM track, "Data Warehouses, Dashboards and Data Integration:  Delivering Actionable Business Intelligence."  It was pretty tech-heavy, as dashboards rely on clean data and data warehouses were also addressed.  Hashtag was #kmpg5.

Session link

Formal Description:

The ability to deliver actionable data to decision makers in anticipation of upcoming business cycles is the key to success in a highly competitive marketplace. Case studies will be presented with a focus on data warehousing and data integration to deliver business intelligence using easy-to-consume dashboards. We will hear from CIOs, KM practitioners and application developers who are leading the charge in delivering and using real-time data to facilitate strategic decision-making.


Steve Lewis - Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Douglas Horton - Handshake Software
Tracy Elmblad - Bingham McCutchen
Gina Lynch - Bingham McCutchen

Gina Lynch

Gina Lynch is the Global Director of Knowledge Services at Bingham, my former firm (1997-2002).  She is a wry and effective presenter.

Bingham has had rapid growth from 2000 to the present and has merged with many firms.

The new intranet was intended to create a new powerful communications platform, harmonize the Bingham community, and increase productivity and efficiency.  They had to promise that the new intranet would save the firm time and money.  

KM and KS were good facilitators for the project.  They are good at listening and distill customer needs from a conversation.  "They tell us what they want, we know what they need."'  

Finance is really important for dashboards.  You need to take them to lunch and buy them big expensive presents.  

The project needed to come out as a firm project, not a KM or IT project.  Key stakeholders needed to be in the loop about providing their information.

Their home page comes up with "news of the day," human interest or updates, followed by firm news.  The front screen emphasizes search.

Partners want long and short-term financial data.  What was it like 3, 6, 12 months ago? They want WIP, AR, hours, revenue, realization, and receipts.  They also wanted easy access to Elite data.  

Accounting wants to provide partners easy access to Elite data, billing reminders, and self-service FAQs. 

The dashboard has stoplights and bar charts.  Clicking on an image pulls up details.  Green-yellow-red for good-danger-bad.  It has billable hours, WIP and A/R, and Receipts, Billing & Realization.

What does a new partner need?

New partners need a detailed view of information about client.  

The client "entry" view shows amount of receipts and realization with big bars for different departments for multiple clients.  They can adjust the time period.  A client lookup searches by name and number, or you can filter by group, practice area, and industry.

Client detail view shows general information, time value, engagement, and the rate agreements.  

Department Pages  

Focus groups said they wanted easy access to applications, password management, and engagement letter on department pages.  

People don't really tell the truth in focus groups.  

According to the searches, they want to know "what I am going to eat, when do I get paid, when can I retire." 

Their individual view shows personal information such as hire date, timekeeper number, insurance, payroll schedule, holiday amount, retirement balance.

Partners really wanted cash flow schedule and payroll stubs.  

They learned that intranets need to be skinny.  Their approach is to identify the small bits of information that people really use (provide functionality instead of information?).  

Steve Lewis

Fried Frank's intranet focus started with addressing findability and uniformity, then switched to focus on associates, then partners, matter, and practice management.

Associates cared about where they were in relation to their peers, and also about finding sample work product.  Fried Frank chose Lexis Search Advantage.  

Their new intranet focused at the highest level on Recruitment, Revenue, and Recognition.  

The quality of the work is assumed.  You don't get in front of big clients unless you can do the quality of the work.  We won't survive unless we can do our work much, much more efficiently.  The chairman of Fried Frank feels that the new intranet is a very serious part of that effort.  

The chairman or the managing partner presented the intranet to everyone in the firm.  It was a very significant lawyer-facing project.

The home page had three sections, top stories, firm news, and calendar, designed by Right Hat.  Four columns for today and the next three days, with scrolling forward and back available.  

Tabs show "My View", "My Practice," "Clients" and "Firm."

My view shows subscriptions, watches, editorially provided content, alerts, and the like.

Fried Frank concentrated less on dashboards and more on a lot of information on the screen at one time, e.g., My Hours, My Clients, etc.  They have a "backlog summary" showing A/R for partners.

The client pages showed the partners what the firm wanted them to pursue.

Practice group pages show recent matters, media mentions, new hires, bylined articles, and the like.

Tracy Emblad

She's addressing development of the HR dashboard and the data warehouse.

They worked closely with Handshake, SharePoint could not have done what they wanted out of the box.  

They used Silverlight as well, which worked fine until iPads came along.  

She feels that every firm should have a data warehouse.  It's really important to get it into a place where it's easy to consume.  It's designed to make extraction and analysis simple.  A good warehouse turns data into a reliable firm asset.  It can also track data changes, which may not be possible in other systems.

It's one point of access and entry.  It can also be clean and trusted, and provides application-neutral data.  Some systems can only feed information in at night.  A warehouse can be queried at any time.  It's designed for high access speed. You don't have to be a database administrative to create query tools.  

Their warehouse has employee data like pictures, spouses, client/matter data, ethical wall information, etc., etc.

Getting data into a warehouse typically involves a business question or problem.  Data gets out by reports, dashboards, excel exports, etc.  

They've had measurable gains in productivity, efficiency, customer service, and compliance from their dashboards.

They watch metrics on who uses what.  Dashboards are overtaking news in popularity.

Douglas Horton

He's from Handshake.  Data integration entails pulling information from a variety of firm systems.  

We've come a long way with technology.   He talks about being called into a PI firm that had burned up an "Altos" computer by storing it in a broom closet.  

You address many of the same issues with mobile devices.  Usability is key.  Nobody is delivering dashboards by mobile (ed.--except Mallesons).  Touching is less precise than mouse clicks.  Small target areas can be a real problem.  

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