Friday, December 23, 2005

Keyword search

I just received a great Christmas present, our new topic search was launched on our web site today. This will greatly improve our customer's ability to find research information.

Behind the scenes is a Verity search engine and a 250+ scientific keyword classification scheme that took over a year of debate to develop. All of our research projects (around 800 projects) in our database have been tagged and we've added these keywords as a metadata field in our CMS.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Personal knowledge management

Last year for Christmas my significant other gave me a GPS. This year, I'm asking her to teach me how to use it. I can't use half of the features on MS Office 2003. I just learned how to use animation features in Powerpoint. Am I technology incompetent, you bet. Am I out of the norm, nope!

I have a Palm, home computer, cell phone, digital camera, digital camcorder, DVD player ...(you get the idea). At work we have a database, e-mail system, network, intranet, CMS and all the latest software. How can I keep up with all this technology and still do my job efficiently? How can I expect folks to learn all the new features offered by our new content management system( CMS)?

I was very intrigued by Tom Davenport and Dave Pollard's presentations on personal knowledge management at this year's KM World. The concept is about helping the individual better manage personal information and knowledge. It's not so much about technology as learning how to use the technology you already have or to link different personal systems together. It must account for differences in work and learning styles.

I presented this idea to my staff technology guru's (IT, CRM, Web, CMS) along with some ideas for new technology. Within a few minutes new technologies were ignored and we focused on how to get people using our existing systems. We talked about shadowing, embedding technologies, internal and external training courses, etc. In the end we are going to propose something very simple - a short presentation at the all-staff meeting on "searching tips." We'll hope to use this use this to kick -off a existing tools training program. Details to follow ...

My take home message, is that new technologies make sense for an organizational level. How to use these technologies is at the personal level. To be successful, you need to account for both.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Idiots guide to increasing blog traffic - part 2

Over the last two weeks I've had a significant increase of traffic coming to my blog. This is by no means a huge number but it's fun to watch the increase. I can attribute a large number of these hits to one referring URL, James Robertson's blog , Column Two . Thanks!

I've been investigating how to get blogs noticed for some time. Back in July, I described my first attempts in the posting "Idiots guide to increasing traffic on my blog." At that time, I signed up with some blog listing services and began tracking responses. At KM World this year I was given a number of new ideas after listening to Bill Ives and other presenters. Below are some of the new things I'm trying:

1) Analyze my blog traffic by:
- Using Google search to look for links to my site (link: This does a pretty good job, but misses a lot of the links in other blogs.
- Using an RSS reader to see recent postings that mention my name or site. Seems better for blog traffic
- Looking at the URLs that referred people to my site. This is one of SiteMeter's (at the bottom of my blog) free features. I also look at what page of my blog they entered on.

2) Look at your more successful posts. I've found that lessons learned articles have high interest. My first CMS lessons learned article was captured on Tom Godfrey's blog. My second on was picked up on James Robertson's blog.

3) Linking within your posts and on other's sites. I'm trying whenever possible to add links to other blogger's sites. I've also posted comments on their sites and have asked some to include me on their blog roll. Good sites that I look at are Knowledge Jolt, Olaf's Notebook, John Quirk: On Content Management, and Portals and KM.

4) Tagging - I started using for tagging my documents with keywords. I seen an increase in traffic after starting to tag and was picked up by another feed service, Planet KM.

I'm still a novice at this, so if you have additional ideas let me know.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

CMS expectations

I ran across some notes in one of my old innovation files that reminds me to be careful of expectations. It describes the "phases of commercialization" to be:

1) Recognition - The idea that a technology can provide the solution needed
2) Overhype - In order to move the idea forward, it's potential is emphasized
3) Disillusionment - When it doesn't live up to the hype
4) Improved understanding - More realistic expectations based on practical experience
5) Realistic investment - Sustainable use of the technology

A key factor in the success of a product is how long it takes from the original hype to meeting realistic expectations? Excitement is generated around the potential benefits, delivery on these benefits is how success is judged. The time between system start-up and being fully functional is where you need to worry about disillusionment, i.e. loss of support for moving forward.

We're just getting started and we've still a long way to go before meeting the promise of our system. We'll get there, but it's going to take time. Making sure that our stakeholders understand this is important.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Lessons learned during CMS implementation

In an earlier post, I gave 10 lessons learned in getting an organization to embrace a content management system (CMS). These focused on getting our staff ready for CMS (i.e. the organizational culture).

Below are 10 lessons we learned when implementing the system.

1) Keep your priorities and goals clear. Complete tasks associated with your first priority before moving on.
2) Expect changes - As we learned more, we constantly needed to revise our thinking.
3) Address gray areas with policies - i.e. file naming conventions, metadata changes, etc.
4) Balance honoring the team process vs. making it work.
5) Manage your consultants. Questions should you should ask:
- When should you use design consultants and when do you use support?
- Do you have what your consultants will need before they come on site?
- Watch out for non-standard design items.
6) Err on the simple side, you can always add the complexity later.
7) Paper migration - It's all about process.
8) Different levels of users have different training needs.
9) Don't try to implement all tools at once.
10) Don't forget implementation is as much about people as it is about technology.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Web cast completed

We had our web cast today and while I don't have the official numbers in yet, what I do have is promising. The numbers (which I'll finalize later) were:
- invited 500+ researchers via e-mail
- had 109 registered
- 90+ attended
- 77 stayed until the end

It seemed to go quite smoothly and I'm impressed with the ease of the Live Meeting tool. Our only technical glitch was thirty seconds of silence, with one of our presenters talking into a muted phone. A few lessons learned:

1) Getting the final slides is a challenge. It's easy to import slides into the tool. Once they're there, I needed support to do the manipulation. The problem came with last minute changes after inserting polling slides, you can't just reload slides. In the future, I may be brave and keep polls in a separate file.

2) Have a separate moderator and presenter. Having someone else review the questions is a huge help. Trying to select questions and answer them is a challenge. We're now discussing how to answer the questions we couldn't get to.

3) Send out a second invite close to the show date. I sent out a second invite e-mail a week before the show (our first went out 4 weeks before the show). We almost doubled registration (58 to 109).

4) The majority of problems are audio problems. Be ready to give a phone number that attendees can use for the audio. Also, remind them that they need to have WindowsMedia player loaded (we found that out on one of our laptops).

5) Give yourself plenty of time for set-up. We set-up and tested all our computers on show day 2 hours before the start time. Even though we practiced with this tool, we still needed this time. It was great not being rushed before the show time.

6) Have a lot of breaks or changes of pace in the show. I heard somewhere that webcasts need a poll or change of pace every 10 minutes. We had 3 presenters and 4 polling slides in our 45 minute show. This seemed about right.

These are my initial reactions. I see a few e-mail rolling so hopefully these won't change ...

Monday, December 05, 2005

CMS update

We're two months into our content management system (CMS) implementation. The majority of our electronic content has been transferred into the system and it looks like most of the staff is using the system.

Most of our project managers seem happy about the system. Our recent modification to allow folks to access to content via the internet (externally) is seen as a a huge advantage.

One disappointment has been in the metadata directed searches. The problem with bringing over legacy documents is the limited amount of metadata (unless you touch each document). We're trying to add metadata to existing files, however, when you have an estimated 100,000 files, that's quite a task. We've also had some requests to add new metadata fields.

We just purchased a new scanner and our next phase is to begin scanning paper files. However, before we add a new layer of files, we have decided to survey users about changes they would like to see with the system. With input received, we hope that these files can be more useful.

Webcast update #2

We're getting ready for our first webcast tomorrow. We've got about 90 registered as of today and I expect a few last minute folks. Not a bad crowd for our pilot. In preparation for the show, we did the following:

1) Sent instructions to all staff in case they get assistance call (anyone in our organization might get a panic call)
2) Set-up our three in-house presenters in adjacent office (to ease communication, just in case)
3) Scheduled computer set-up and testing well before the show (with IT back-up if needed)
4) Sent presenters instructions that included:
- Turn off cell phones, blackberries, etc
- Don't use the speaker phone, mute your phone when not in use
- Make sure you have a hard copy of the presentation and glass of water
5) Attendees received an e-mail reminder from Microsoft.
6) Assigned a staff member to review questions and developed procedures for getting the questions to the presenters.
7) Prayed!!!!

As you can see, we're trying to prepare for possible problems. To get to this point, we've already had training on the software and a dress rehearsal of the presentation.