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Faceted Searching is Just Better!

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By Sal Provenza

Faceted searching is becoming a standard for special libraries that want to help end users find relevant content quickly and easily.  Not all library automation systems today offer faceted searching; if they do, it’s definitely a competitive advantage.  

What is faceted searching?

Faceted searching, browsing or navigation is an efficient way to quickly access a library’s collection, internal or external databases or other information repositories.  It renders faceted (e.g. categorized) results classification, allowing users to discover content by filtering.  A good faceted searching system associates an item with many different taxonomic terms, rather than into a single determined order.

Faceted searching is to end users what Boolean search is to a librarian. Users love faceted searching because it gets them the benefits of Boolean/fielded searching -increased precision and small numbers of high quality results -without AND/OR/NOT drop downs or multiple search box interfaces.

Faceted searching doesn’t work on full text data, which is why Google doesn’t offer it.  A well-structured database and fields that are well curated are essential – that is why good faceted searching requires a good librarian in the background!

Can you see the value?

Each user who conducts a faceted search can get a quick overview of results by category, and then continue refining their search until they get the best content.  Users can see how many results are in each category, making it obvious which to look at first.  They can decide on their own search strategy and change their search result filters at any time.

When you are considering investing in a new library automation system, you need to carefully consider how well the system searches and whether its search capabilities are end user focused.  Faceted searching is a clear winner!

Want to learn more about faceting searching and how it can help you quickly find relevant information?  Email sales@lucidea.com or call 604-278-6717.

How to Avoid Empty Portal Syndrome

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By Marcus Liban

The majority of firms that approach us are struggling with low intranet /portal user adoption.  There are many factors that contribute to this problem, but “empty portal syndrome” can be overcome if administrators stay focused on some key success factors.

What Does Success Look Like?
Law firm portals should be the primary source for information storage and access, advocacy and contributions from executive management must be expected, and the portal should be actively, continually managed.  Legal portals should offer:
  • Relevance to target users (know your audience!)
  • Site structure and logic that supports those target users
  • User-centric design with an intuitive, dynamic, flexible interface
  • Support for search, without dependency on search, through automatic content mining from critical in-house systems (HRIS, Finance, DMS, CRM).  This provides a complete picture of the firm’s:
    • client lifecycles  and details(from initial matter intake to identifying a roadmap for the client based upon firm expertise and other services relevant to the matter, client).
    • practice areas
    • work product (who, what, activity level)
    • experience, successes and failures
  • Integration with external systems offering access to:
    • research
    • customer/industry/market trends
Pitfalls to Avoid
Representatives of firms struggling with user adoption tell similar stories.  For many mid-market firms, Phase I of their portal project is basic software installation – with the expectation that everything should “just work.”  The reality: intranet/portal software is never turn-key or immediately relevant.   Portals are continually evolving platforms that require expectation setting, thoughtful planning and an understanding of business needs and workflows.  A SharePoint project, for example, is not complete simply as a result of having installed the software.

Installation is the initial, foundational step.  Project teams must then consider site navigation informed by the activities and preferences of the firm’s departments and practices, the content types and application relevant to these teams, and the needs of other stakeholders.  Phase I deliver must deliver attorney relevance and business value in order for adoption to take off.  If the best foundation isn’t set, problems ensue –they tend to fall into three major categories, all of which are related:
  • IT dependency - experience has shown that most project failures result from this
  • Lack of relevance
  • Lack of governance
IT Dependency
Often the IT department is given responsibility for Phase I of a portal project, even though they are not subject matter experts, nor can they usually influence or change the firm culture.  Problems include:
  • Responsibility for content publishing ends up in the hands of IT
  • IT staff become content owners for Administrative departments or Practice Groups.  Familiarity with the tools doesn’t guarantee familiarity with content requirements, workflows or external resources
  • Portal Sites conflict with (and sometimes compete with) other systems, e.g.:
    • Exchange Public Folders
    • DMS and SP document lists (resulting in confusion as to which are authoritative documents)
Lack of Relevance
The term “empty portal” is a figure of speech.  We hear many stories about portals that contain lots of content, but not necessarily the right content - and it may be organized in counterintuitive, illogical ways that don’t mirror the firm’s own structure and workflow.  It might as well be empty.  At Lucidea we refer to this problem as the content being physically captured but logically lost.  Problems include:
  • Site structure doesn’t reflect the firm’s organizational structure
  • Sites are shallow and focused on primarily administrative content (e.g. staff directories, office maps, weather, office events etc.) with little substantive work product  
  • Compromised access to important information due to bad layout, poor navigation and dependency on user structured search
  • Static content, often submitted by a few die-hard users who do actually publish– but who often aren’t subject matter experts  and  don’t know the true context, value or priority
Lack of Governance
As mentioned earlier in this post, legal portals must be “continually and actively managed.”  Adhering to this is the biggest problem of all for firms who struggle with poor user adoption.   They tell us:
  • The portal is a “free for all” and content is not filtered or targeted 
  • Information is dated and mainly administrative
  • Staff see portal engagement (publishing, leveraging work product, updating content) as just one in a group of responsibilities and place it low on the priority list
  • There is no formal information governance policy that dictates retention, expiration of content, etc.
  • Portal contribution and usage isn’t part of performance measurement, so staff aren’t accountable
In another post, we’ll focus on the ways in which a basic content dashboard can be a powerful tool for content and knowledge managers to view and influence how firms value and leverage their critical information assets.

Sometimes it’s only possible to succeed because we know what failure looks like.  Avoid the pitfalls of legal portal implementation and management and stay focused on the key success factors outlined at the beginning of this post.  Then you need never suffer from empty portal syndrome!

REPLY REQUESTED: PLEASE GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK ON OUR SUSTAINABLE LIBRARY SLA 2014 HOT TOPICS SESSION***

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By Phil Green

***AND SUGGESTIONS FOR WHAT YOU’D LIKE TO TALK ABOUT NEXT YEAR!
As an SLA 2014 Gold Sponsor, Lucidea played a significant role at the Annual Meeting and INFO-EXPO in Vancouver.  Part of this sponsorship included our Hot Topic Session - Adapt, Act and Thrive: Ensuring a Sustainable Library.  In this session a panel of visionary information professionals discussed the serious challenges that threaten special libraries’ sustainability, and they discussed how they “adapt, act and thrive” in the face of these challenges. 
The Hot Topics round-table discussion was moderated by Joe Matthews who questioned the panelists on issues such as:
How do you...
·        ensure and leverage info-ubiquity and deliver universal access to information?
·        embed yourself within your organization and work with IT to integrate with existing systems?
·        engage with end users who wish to influence and interact with content via social tools?
·        manage challenging vendor relationships?
·        control costs, and
·        demonstrate value to upper management via tracking, measurement and monitoring of services? 
Our panelists were:
·        Judith Bloch, Corporate Librarian/Information Resources Manager with Shannon & Wilson, Inc. - a geotechnical and environmental engineering consulting firm.  Judith and her team use CuadraSTAR.
·        Joan Cunningham, Regional Librarian at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger - a national engineering firm that designs, investigates, and rehabilitates structures and building enclosures.  Joan and her team are SydneyPLUS clients.
·        Jennifer Hermsen, Manager, Knowledge Services with Kemin Industries, Inc. -  a life science company that innovates to improve the lives of humans and animals around the world.  Kemin Industries is an Inmagic Presto client.
·        Karen McQuillen, Director,Knowledge Services at Educational Testing Service  - an assessment development and research organization. Karen and her staff use SydneyPLUS
·        Susannah Tredwell, Manager of Library Services, Davis LLP - a national Canadian law firm headquartered in Vancouver. Susannah and her team are SydneyPLUS clients.

The session was extremely well attended; we had 190 registered participants!  In fact, it was  standing room only and unfortunately there were some attendees out in the hallway.  We tell ourselves this is actually a good problem to have – but we’ll definitely work with SLA to ensure that we get a larger room for future Lucidea sponsored sessions.
For those of you who couldn’t attend  our Hot Topics session or even the SLA conference, I’d like to provide a quick overview of some of the highlights:
The biggest laugh:
o   During the introduction of the panelists, Joe Matthews asked each person to tell the audience something surprising about themselves.  Karen McQuillen stated “I have three cats and I like to read…but anyone would know that about me, because I am at this conference.”
Most surprising answer:
o   “People should know that everything is being tracked.” This was Jennifer Hermsen’s answer, when asked by the audience about what to track and how to leverage metrics to understand library usage, and whether it makes employees uncomfortable.
Best audience question:
o   “Do you really have the right type of IT people with the right experience to help you?”  The panelists all acknowledged that IT is very busy and that while they understand the technology, they don’t know much about content.  This led to a discussion about how important it is to build a strong relationship with IT, even though it takes time and energy.
Thanks to our great facilitator Joe Matthews, our terrific panelists and an engaged audience, the morning was a big success.  As attendees left the room we overheard some comments:
o  “I was really impressed with the panelists; they had some great ideas!”
o  “I had to stand up the whole time but it was well worth it!”
o “I hope Lucidea sponsors a similar panel discussion next year.”
o  “The moderator did a great job at keeping the panel focused.”
o  “That was one of the best SLA sessions I’ve ever been to - it was so practical.”

Please let us know if you attended, and if so, what you thought of the session.  And for everyone else, please let us know if you would like Lucidea to do more of these types of sessions at future SLA Annual Meetings and suggest some topics – we very much value your input.    

Note from the Author - I've attended the SLA conference for over twenty years and Karen is right (I have two cats and I like to read).

Lucidea / Inmagic Announces Key Presto Improvements – You Asked, We Acted!

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By Phil Green

A fully loaded service pack is now available for all clients running Inmagic® Presto 4.3, and is ready for download by Presto customers, from the Presto Knowledgebase.

Presto V4.3 Service Pack 1 includes a number of fixes and improvements requested by our customers.  It’s available for download now, and offers enhancements such as:
  • External Widget Builder now enables the inclusion of various widgets widely available on the Web (weather, time zone, etc.).  This fixes the issue of some widgets not running in the HTML widget, and was specifically developed in response to customers’ desire to run widgets developed by content publishers like EBSCO.
  • Quick Search widget now enables the administrator to specify the initial settings for the Advanced Search controls. For example, you can set up the Quick Search widget to default to searching the Title and Subtitle fields in the Catalog content type.  This fixes the issue where administrators could not specify the initial settings and users were required to do so.
  • RSS widget now supports more flexibility in how many items to display, and permits the “Published On” dates to be hidden.  Both these changes were requested by many customers.
  • Editing Value Lists now supports copying and pasting an entire list of values into the list, and offers more editing flexibility.
  • When configuring a new Content Type, an Any Word box is now automatically generated at the top of the default Search Screen.  Many clients requested this time saving capability.
  • Custom Menu Items now have no URL character limit. (The previous limit was 255 characters.)
  • The release also includes a number of other fixes, including fixes to Blog RSS Feeds; Cart Count; editing Alerts, Profiles; configuring Custom Menus; Home Pages, and the Connector System PDF thumbnail generation.
As you work with Presto 4.3 and think of improvements you’d like to see, please don’t hesitate to let us know via our Ideation Repository.  While we cannot accommodate every request we do rely on you, our valued customers, for your input and innovative ideas that help make our products better.  Thank you!

Let's catch up at SLA 2014 in Vancouver!

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By Ron Aspe and Phil Green

At this year’s SLA Conference we’re offering three ways for you to catch up with Lucidea’s Inmagic and SydneyPLUS staff:

One - Please join us for the annual Lucidea SLA Cocktail Party!  It’s happening at the Pan Pacific Hotel (next door to the Convention Centre) on Monday June 9 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  We’ll be in Oceanview Suite 2 (Restaurant and Gallery Level). Just take the lobby elevator, press “R” and follow the signs. Let us know if you’re coming! Sign up here and download the invitation.

Two - Please join us for our SLA Hot Topic Session “Adapt, Act and Thrive: Ensuring a Sustainable Library.”  This session will examine serious challenges that threaten the sustainability of special libraries, and focus on strategies for proactively overcoming them.  A panel of your peers will discuss how they ensure and leverage info-ubiquity; embed themselves within their organizations; engage end users; manage challenging vendor relationships; control costs, and demonstrate value.  The session will focus on how the panelists are making their departments and functions more relevant – now, and into the future.  This session will take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre West, Room 114 and 115, on Monday June 9, from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
The panelists are: Judith Bloch, Corporate Librarian/Information Resources Manager, Shannon & Wilson, Inc.; Joan Cunningham, Regional Librarian, SGH; Jennifer Hermsen, Global Library Services Manager, Kemin Industries, Inc.; Karen McQuillen, Manager, Library and Information Services, Educational Testing Service (ETS); and Susannah Tredwell, Manager of Library Services, Davis LLP.  The panel moderator is author and library authority, Joe Matthews!

Three!  Of course, your third option is to visit us at Lucidea booths 816 and 817.  We’ll be there on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

We can’t wait to catch up – please stop by for a visit.

6 Principles Supporting the Sustainable Library: SLA 2014 Hot Topics Session

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By Mark Maslowski

The simple truth is, there are serious challenges to the long term sustainability of special libraries, many of which may threaten your future if you don’t act.  These challenges include the need to:

·         Stay relevant by leveraging and managing social tools
·         Reach an increasingly mobile user base
·         Integrate your library’s knowledge with an increasingly complex IT environment
·         Do more in an environment of ever-shrinking budgets
·         Avoid being made redundant by content providers who reach out to end users directly

In addition, competition from external search engines (i.e. Google) cannot be ignored – you know that Google is a search engine not a lie detector, but do your end users understand the critical importance of curation by librarians and knowledge experts, resulting in vetted, truthful content that is relevant and current?  In the face of all these challenges you need a full range of information management solutions designed especially to meet the requirements of special librarians, and a strategy that focuses on building the sustainable library.  You want not only to survive, but to adapt, act and thrive!

Lucidea’s client service and product development strategy rest on six principles which we believe are integral to special librarianship’s ongoing value and viability. These six Lucidea Principles are: 
  • Access - knowledge that informs action should be easily accessible
  • Discovery - the discovery of information should effectively accommodate user preferences
  •  Independenceself-sufficiency increases efficiency and productivity, and reduces costs
  •  Integration with your existing systems and applications is critical
  •  Partnership with vendors should be based on a mutual interest in success
  • Security – you must manage access to your organization’s most important information assets
Special librarians and knowledge managers can achieve sustainability and thrive by employing solutions and practices built on these six principles. With the help of several valued clients who have followed that strategy, Lucidea is hosting and moderating a Hot Topics panel discussion at this year’s SLA Annual Conference and INFO-EXPO, in order to share examples of the ways in which visionary information professionals are pressing the reset button and making their departments and functions more relevant - now and into the future. 

Participants in the Hot Topics session will discuss the major challenges to the sustainability of special libraries and will hear about powerful ways in which their peers have overcome them in order to thrive and extend their reach.  If you’re reading this and will be attending SLA, please register for the Panel taking place on June 9thLucidea’s commitment to supporting the future of special librarianship doesn’t end with our presence at the SLA conference – we’ll be addressing the topic and its many facets in future blog posts, so please stay tuned.  

Good Times: How to Select a Library Automation System, Part 2

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By Mark Maslowski

In my first post on this topic, I shared a few guiding principles learned during our history as a preferred library automation and knowledge management application provider. If followed, these will ensure a successful implementation and a fruitful commercial partnership. The first set of factors for consideration was internally focused; in this post I’ll share some suggestions that focus on the external environment, and by the way:

If you’re thinking of building it yourself…beware!
  • Organizations document many failed attempts to build applications themselves. For example, one company spent over 100 person months developing an application before giving up and buying SydneyPLUS software – they were up and running in a week.
  • Often, solutions built in house no longer meet requirements by the time they’re ready to launch. 
  • Internal cost of building an application can be high, and often the solutions aren’t fully documented.
  • There is often no support for enhancements or bug fixes, and given the time to results, the original builder has often left the company by the launch date
Carefully evaluate commercial versus open source products 
  • Purchase price isn’t the same as total cost of ownership (TCO), which includes support and customization costs
  • Open source products have their own inherent costs, often difficult to itemize, anticipate, or estimate
  • Choose between commercial and open source products based on your goals, needs, and your available resources – don’t forget that you do need staff to implement and maintain open source platforms
Consider hosted versus licensed software
  • Vendor hosted software ensures that it will be maintained and upgraded – it’s their responsibility, not yours
  • You’ll always have the latest enhancements and bug fixes
  • Hosted software has minimal impact on your IT infrastructure and staff resources, lowering the TCO and removing complexity
Ask potential vendors what product support and enhancements you’ll receive
  • What support, upgrades and bug fixes are included?
  • What happens to support if you customize?
  • What does the quality of support tell you about the supplier’s attitude toward its customers?
Develop a realistic implementation timeline and share it
If there is an event-based launch date, such as a partner meeting, internal conference etc., make sure that your vendors know about it and can confirm that meeting the date is realistic. When you think about timing, remember to include testing (and time for users to beta test) so that you have worked out any issues prior to launch, and finally, adjust for any events that will impact the schedule, such as holidays, staff PTO etc. Share your preferred kick off date and drop-dead launch date with your potential vendors; if they cannot meet those dates, it should be a non-starter.

Making the final decision
You will have learned a lot during the pre-selection process. It’s important to look, one more time, at your goals and requirements, and to make sure that the products on your short list meet them. As insurance, you should get demos of your favorite two products again, and don’t be shy! Vendors like you to ask questions and fully evaluate their products. (And if the vendors don’t like to help you, do you really want their products?)

You’ll need to contact a few references given you to by the vendor, and in addition to that, you should get informal input by checking listservs and the Internet to see what has been said about the supplier over time.

Go over the pricing and contract terms with a fine toothed comb to make sure there are no surprises after the contract is signed. Make sure to observe your organization’s policy on contract review – involve someone from Procurement or Legal if required. Two sets of eyes are always better than one. Then, make your decision: confidently choose the product that is right for your organization, regardless of whether it’s the marketplace favorite.

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