New systems ring the changes

Caroline Cantello reveals how Nabarro Nathanson revamped its IT setup. Caroline Cantello is a project manager at Nabarro Nathanson.

Nabarro Nathanson was one of the first UK firms to use PC networks, but by 1996 there was acceptance of the need to upgrade the hardware and software the practice was using.

It was clear from the start that the firm's ageing OS/2 operating system would have to be replaced. A new word processing package and document management system would also have to be introduced.

A project team was established, which set up trials to enable secretaries to sample Microsoft Word and Wordperfect word processing software. As a result of these tests Microsoft Word was chosen.

After a careful evaluation of what was available Windows NT was also selected because it was seen as being the best long-term solution.

The document management system chosen was Docs Open, picked because of its market-leading position. It offered a secure, stable platform for effective document sharing between offices and for the development of a corporate 'know-how' system.

The introduction of the new systems took place over several weeks across the firm's Sheffield and London offices. The Reading office had already moved over to the systems as a pilot project.

Training courses were set up, which, with document conversion (from Wordperfect 5.1 to Microsoft Word 7.0 and then booking into Docs Open), took place over one week. The systems and PCs were configured and tested over the weekend.

This meant that newly trained users could start afresh at the beginning of the following week.

To ensure that users throughout the firm were not left 'high and dry' during the migration, two help desks were set up. Consultants from PC Docs were also on hand to provide one-to-one assistance to the users at the desktop.

During this time the project team produced and distributed newsletters to promote the new systems and their capabilities, as well as running regular road shows at the firm's head and regional offices. These activities were certainly contributory factors in the firm-wide acceptance of the new systems, particularly Docs Open.

There are now approximately 850 Docs Open users at Nabarro Nathanson. It is being used for managing Word and integrating other applications, such as Comparerite, Laserforms, Power point and Excel.

DOCS Open's index searching capabilities are far reaching and solve a multitude of 'lost word' problems.

Management of documents is easier from a user's viewpoint because they no longer have to do their own manual housekeeping.

It also provides much easier document control, which provides greater productivity for the firm and ultimately a better service to its clients.

All users in the firm are provided with a standard Windows 95 desktop and toolbar. To maintain control of the IT infrastructure, users do not have Network Neighbourhood or Control Panel access. All network security is handled by Docs Open which is overseen by the IT department.

From the outset every aspect of the project was planned, ensuring that all areas were covered including cabling, hardware and software migration and installation, customisation, training, promotion and implementation. As a result the project was brought in on time and within budget.