Leveraging intranets as a knowledge management tool – part one

In this first in a three part series on how legal teams can use intranets for knowledge management, 3Kites consultant Anthony Olisa explains why getting the content right is critical

Quality content is vital for the success of an organisation’s intranet Shutterstock

In today’s fast-paced legal industry, knowledge management plays a crucial role in the operational success of law firms. With the drastic changes in how and where people work, law firms and legal departments face challenges in organising, accessing and disseminating vast amounts of information.

Intranets, which are private networks within an organisation, have become well-established tools for knowledge management within the legal sector by providing a centralised hub for communication, collaboration and information sharing. However, leveraging an intranet as a knowledge management tool requires careful planning and consideration, as it is not a silver bullet to achieving an effective knowledge-sharing culture.

When building an intranet, there are many factors to consider, but this article will focus on the importance of content, enhancing content findability and the balance of customisation versus out-of-the-box features.

Content is still king

To make an intranet effective, it is important to have quality content. An intranet with little or outdated content serves minimal purpose. When faced with a migration effort it is tempting just to ‘lift and shift’ existing (and often out of date) content. However, doing so is likely to lead to a new intranet which is no more successful than the site it has replaced.

It is essential to get content creators into the rhythm of creating and publishing new content (news, events, know-how and training to name a few). The content should be up-to-date, accurate and meet the needs of your audience, which is where good content lifecycle management (CLM) comes into play. A lot of good CLM governance is less about the technology than the people and processes.

Hidden treasures

“I can never find anything on our intranet” – A phrase I’ve heard all too often during my career. Often, it’s not the lack of content that’s the problem, but rather the difficulty in finding it. Employees waste precious time recreating existing knowledge that’s already been captured and uploaded to the intranet in the form of templates and know-how, missing out on efficiency gains as a result. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to improve the findability of the content on your intranet.

One key area to focus on is the user interface (UI). If the platform’s display is cluttered and inconsistent, it can easily leave users feeling confused and underwhelmed. Therefore, it is important to implement page templates and style guides, provide training to content creators on how to use them effectively, and avoid navigation and site structures that require multiple clicks to access information.

Another area to think about is your taxonomy and how tags (or metadata) are applied to your content. Take the time to think about the different content types you have within your organisation and what tags are relevant to each type. For example, documents should be tagged differently than events. Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that content editors apply the tags consistently and accurately. This can be achieved through a simple UI to make tagging easy, and by providing training and support to content editors to help them understand the benefits of accurate tagging.

Customise with caution

Many firms are considering moving their intranet to a cloud solution or will have already made the jump. While the benefits of going down the SaaS (software-as-a-service) route for your intranet are numerous (improved scalability, reduced upfront costs, better security, etc), there are some issues to consider – customisation being one of them. 

The gravitational pull to create and place custom solutions on top of the out-of-the-box platform to meet business demands is well understood. Trust me, I’ve been there. But it’s important to bear in mind the risks. Updates to cloud solutions can very easily break unsupported custom solutions, causing potentially significant impacts on your operation. 

Therefore, it is crucial that firms adopt a strategic approach to customisations to mitigate the associated risks. Focus on priority customisations that align with specific business needs, invest in testing and review any custom solutions periodically (especially when implementing changes to systems your intranet connects to). 

Even better, if you can take the time to understand exactly what the customisation needs to deliver and to assess whether the same (or very nearly the same) can be achieved without customisation, you may be able to save a lot of future pain.

If you are still on-prem and thinking of making the jump to a cloud solution, now is the time to document, review and prioritise any custom solutions you may have built up over the years. You should also evaluate whether the same can be achieved in other ways and, if necessary, specify how to re-build the customisations you want to keep in the new environment.


Leveraging an intranet as a knowledge management tool can lead to great rewards. By focusing on factors like content, content findability and a sensible approach to customisation, organisations can ensure that their intranet is set up to reap as many rewards as possible. It can help support not only the firm’s communications strategy but also make a real impact on making the firm’s knowledge accessible.

Anthony Olisa is a consultant at 3Kites. This is the 36th article in the series Navigating Legaltech


About 3Kites and Kemp IT Law  
3Kites is an independent consultancy, which is to say that we have no ties or arrangements with any suppliers so that we can provide our clients with unfettered advice. We have been operating since 2006 and our consultants include former law firm partners (one a managing partner), a GC, two law firm IT directors and an owner of a practice management company. This blend of skills and experience puts us in a unique position when providing advice on IT strategy, fractional IT management, knowledge management, product selections, process review (including the legal process) and more besides. 3Kites often works closely with Kemp IT Law (KITL), a boutique law firm offering its clients advice on IT services and related areas such as GDPR. Where relevant (eg when discussing cloud computing in a future article) this column may include content from the team at KITL to provide readers with a broader perspective including any regulatory considerations.

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