Effective knowledge management requires a multi-prong approach: collecting documents, identifying expertise, capturing context, the ability to browse and search the materials collected, among others. An important element of any KM system is the ability easily and effectively to conduct full-text search across multiple collections. A recent article describes how (Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton is addressing the full-text search aspect of KM.
In The Engine That Could on law.com (2/5/04), Brenton B. Miller, director of knowledge management at Cleary, writes about how and why his firm acquired a full-text engine to search their knowledge repositories. Miller describes how the firm has created numerous useful KM systems and points out that
We have become victims of our own success, however. With dozens of intranet practice sites and Notes-based discussion forums and other databases to choose from, our lawyers are often baffled by where to begin and frustrated with the incompleteness of any one internal content source.
To address this issue, his firm decided to acquire a full-text engine that would index the multiple forums and databases and produce useful hit lists. Miller describes the evaluation process and selection criteria, which included integration with their document management system, effectiveness of the search results, and various technical considerations. Though the project to install the full-text engine is still underway, the results look promising.
The approach at Cleary is a good illustration of the multi-prong approach. The firm appears to have various human processes in place to create valuable KM content. Now they are adding automation in the form of sophisticated search to provide better access to the collected content. [Strategic Legal Technology]