Technology Expectations

January 8, 2009

Now this is my kind of new deal.  Law Technology News’ Ted Banks lays out what I’ve always believed.

Technology should accomplish what the User NEEDS.

This philosophy is simple but rarely is it incorporated.  Vendors make products that under-perform, librarians spend hours communicating both ways what is wanted and why the user can’t get what is wanted.

Is it really so hard to think about the use of technology and implement the use into the programming?  I haven’t programmed anything since High School, thankfully but programmers are smart, way smarter than I.

If I tell my programming friends that I want XYZ is it really so complicated that they can’t do it? Banks seems to feel the same way he states,

Clear Communicators?

To ensure effectiveness, which is driven by clarity and relevance, automation tools should be as close to the user as possible. Nothing should enter the real world until it reflects how real people act, and has been thoroughly tested by real people. Successful technology works when it mimics how people think and behave.

I always enjoyed beta testing new products because I would inevitably break.  I  wanted the new search tools to search for XYZ in case of Z & A with the ABC user group always in mind.  If new tools could not meet those expectations it probably wasn’t going to get used and it certainly wasn’t meeting expectations.

So programmers, vendors, librarians and users.  Hop on board the communication train and listen and respond don’t quote.  If you can’t use technology to solve problems you might as well give up matches for starting fires too.

Constance Ard January 8, 2009

Consultant Branding

January 8, 2009

You know the old saying, it takes a village to raise a child.  The same might be said for new consultants.

As a new consultant myself, I’m very lucky to have two fabulous mentors who have been in the ring for over 3o years combined.  Today I was reminded that branding my consultant business at every level is extremely important.

I knew this but just hadn’t quite gotten around to implementing it on everything.  I won’t bore you with all the gritty details but I would like to highlight a few key items that are important in branding your work either in-house or as a consultant.

  • Choose a font that impacts and does not bore your readers.
  • Brand your Proposals
  • Sell your knowledge and skills even if you don’t think now is the time
  • Know your project
  • Be consistent

Some of these like, know your project, are a given.  Remind yourself that while working outside your comfort zone can be a good thing; having a good knowledge of the skills involved in accomplishing the project successfully is vital.

Email signatures and consistent web presences are only a part of your branding face.  Cover sheets and proposal templates that allow your clients to identify you are essential.

So don’t wait until you need it.  Design that proposal template now.  Choose your fonts, styles etc. and save it for future use.  You won’t regret it and tweaking is easier after the initial design is complete.

Constance Ard January 8, 2009

Legislative Session

January 6, 2009

Today launches the 2009 Legislative session for the country and for Kentucky.

While working as a law librarian I embraced the humor in the question of inexperienced legislative history researchers.  The reality is that  Kentucky has very little intent on record for our legislative iniatives.

Often the most powerful tools in our search for legislative history and intent are bill versions and news articles.  The LRC’s bill file is a crap shoot in terms of the amount of information found and the archive for those tools is limited.  If you are lucky a regulation is passed and you can track down the “purpose” in those records.

In terms of tracking current legislative actions, Kentucky has come far.  The Bill Watch service is a vast improvement.  Introduced in 2008, I found it to be a time-saver in keeping track of the various bills of interest.  The search engine is not perfectly accurate but the Index terms are well-established and serve as a great way to choose the legislative topics to track.

I did not trust the automation completely during the last session and often complemented the “alert” with my own manual review to ensure I did not miss major activities on the most important bills I was tracking.

Still this tracking service beats the paper any day.  So for all of you law librarians out there keeping tabs on the new bills I wish you well and encourage you to get very comfortable with the advantages and limitations of the legislative tracking tools that are offered.

By Answer Maven January 6, 2009

New Year’s Resolutions

January 5, 2009

Usually I shy away from personal discussions on this blog unless I’m thanking people who have helped me be better for my clients.

Today, in the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions I’m writing to you about some business goals.  The plan is to update you on my progress so that I have accountability to a wider audience than my golden retrievers and myself. I rarely set New Year’s Resolutions so accountability will be important for my success.

  • Network More (At least one meeting per month.)
  • Write more freelance articles (3 articles for the year.)

The reason behind these goals is to gain wider exposure. As a new independent information professional I need to expand beyond my comfort zone, meet new people and broaden my marketing approach.

I plan to get more active in local business groups and restart my past activities with the local social media group.

  • Contact old and new business contacts and let them know through direct communication where and what I’m doing. (Complete by the end of February.)

With the economic crunch old and new contacts need to know that they have options for information solutions. Old contacts know my work and new contacts starting their own businesses or ventures will benefit from an experienced professional at crunch time.

  • ·Stay up-to-date on blog reading so that my own blog has good, fresh useful content. (Ongoing)

This goal requires constant vigilance. I must read daily even when I’m traveling and always be ready to write so that when I have time to post you have something that is relevant and useful.

With that goal in mind, if you have ideas about content for this blog, feel free to post a comment. Is there an industry you would like me to review, a company you want to see profiled?

Happy New Year! I’m off to read.

Constance Ard, January 5, 2009


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