Peer to Peer Magazine

March 2012

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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lessons learned challenge we had to deal with) for the cover page, but the interior page headers and graphics all stayed blue. The next question that naturally came up was whether we could change those to match the cover page. In the current system, we force a three-inch left margin, providing space for pull quotes and graphics. These could be saved in the original document and worked great for formal RFP responses. For less formal pitches, however, this created a real estate problem: Could we offer a "no sidebar" option? It must strip out the graphics and pull quotes, of course. Oh, and please make that option available only in certain countries. DLA Piper had also entered into a relationship with a firm in Brazil that needed a proposal generator solution, but for risk management reasons could not commingle their content with ours. Could we give them access to the software but silo their templates and collateral? In many instances, biographies need to be added to a pitch after it has already been generated. Could we add an option for "bios/CVs only" so they could generate those separately and then drop into their existing document? Lastly, performance during the generation process continued to be an issue. Could we do anything to improve the time required to locate and select content? In the middle of this, portions of the firm began the switch to Windows 7 and Office 2010. Testing needed to be done to verify that the templates, styles and coding would hold up for those users who were upgraded, while still working for everyone else on Windows XP and Office 2003. The People Said, Let There Be Light Work by the development and desktop teams began in November 2010 and was completed in March 2011. Because this is a global system, there were many parties involved. Although we had been very thorough in our initial research in 2009, and believed all upgrade requirements had been carefully documented, in hindsight we should have spent more time surveying users to verify that the list of modifications was complete, accurately reflecting the key issues. We had a lot of "surprise" requests come up during the process that caused scope creep and delays to our timeline. Because we were competing for resources with the Windows 7/Office 2010 upgrade, these slips in the timeline were further magnified. The different cultures and number of local "adaptations" also caused communication problems. When the proposal generator was initially launched, everyone was just happy to have a solution. Now, over a year later, we didn't properly appreciate how ingrained it had become in the day-to-day processes of the marketing staff and failed to solicit input before marching forward with the change requests already received. Very late in the upgrade process, we discovered that a majority of our users were swapping the "Title" and "Company Name" And It Was Good Despite these setbacks, all of the modifications were successfully made, and usage of the system in 2011 was up significantly over 2010. Key to this was building a platform from the outset that could easily accommodate future changes, which gave us the ability to quickly address so many different global and local requests. positions on the cover page. This was a fairly simple change that was almost overlooked because no one had complained — and we didn't ask. We had communicated with the "core team," but overlooked our local user base. Umair Ahmed is a Senior Analyst/Developer in the IT - Knowledge and Information Services group in the United States offices of DLA Piper. Umair joined the firm in 2001, and he served as an analyst and developer on the global proposal generator system. Umair enjoys playing tennis and badminton. He can be reached at Sunny Bane is the Senior Manager of Marketing Operations at DLA Piper, where she is responsible for the firm's marketing systems in the United States, including experience-tracking and InterAction. Sunny was instrumental in the development of a global proposal generator and pitch tracking system. She joined DLA Piper (then Gray Cary) in 2002 as part of the website team, after a 12-year career in graphic design and project management. Sunny currently serves on ILTA's Professional Services Peer Group Steering Committee. She can be reached at Philip DeMario is a Senior Analyst/Developer in the IT - Knowledge and Information Services group in the United States offices of DLA Piper. Phil joined the firm in 2003, and he served as an analyst and developer on the global proposal generator system. He can be reached at 102 Peer to Peer

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