In the previous post, I presented KM questions 1-6 about people and processes. This post includes questions 7-9 about technology, a resource survey, and specific examples of answers to all nine questions.
7. What existing tools can be used in support of the new initiatives? From the following list, identify all tools which already exist and need to be part of the KM program.
Here is a list of tools:
- user interface
- team spaces
- virtual meeting rooms, web/video/audio conferencing, and telepresence
- threaded discussions and Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs)
- expertise locators and ask the expert
- metadata and tags
- search engines
- podcasts and videos
- syndication, aggregation, and subscription management systems
- social software and social media
- external access
- workflow applications
- process automation
- gamification applications
- analytics and business intelligence
- cognitive computing and artificial intelligence
For example, your organization will likely already have an intranet. It may be using a tool for virtual meeting rooms. An e-learning system may already exist. There may be a tool for subscription management. Using all such existing tools as part of the KM program will save money, accelerate implementation, and demonstrate the important concept of reuse.
8. What new tools need to be created or obtained? Review your answers to the previous question and from the above list, identify all additional tools which are needed but are not currently available.
For example, there may be no suitable technology for team spaces. Discussions may currently be taking place using standard email, and thus not archived for future searches. Emerging technologies such as blogs, wikis, and podcasts may not be available.
Select the most important missing technologies for inclusion in the program. Analyze the likely costs and benefits of each in making your choices.
9. What integration of tools and systems will be required? Purchasing or developing a series of standalone tools which are disconnected will pose problems for a KM program. Users will complain that there are too many sites to visit, redundant data entry required, and overlapping and confusing technology.
To avoid these problems, plan to integrate as many tools and systems as possible. Automate data flows to avoid the need for redundant entry. And purchase or develop suites of products which work well together. For example, add a data feed from a business system to a knowledge repository. Design a web site which pulls information from multiple sources to provide a unified view. Ensure that the incentive points tracking system automatically detects all desired actions and doesn’t require manual entry.
To help answer these questions, it is important to get user input. Conduct surveys to identify participants, request process and technology suggestions, and compile a list of people, process, and technology components currently in use.
The results of the Opportunities Survey conducted for the top three objectives will also be useful in providing the 9 Answers. In addition, conduct a Resource Survey to compile a list of people, process, and technology components currently in use, determine the usefulness of each one, and request suggestions for additions. Use this survey to find out which processes and tools are currently popular, to identify gaps in meeting user needs, and look for integration possibilities.
Use this survey to evaluate existing knowledge resources and to determine which ones to add. It allows you to learn which resources are worthwhile, which ones are not, which ones you should learn more about, and which ones should be added. This should be conducted once when starting a KM initiative to help select the KM components to use, and every one to three years thereafter to make adjustments to the ones selected.
Here is an example of a survey you can use.
1. Demographic Questions
- What is your e-mail address?
- What is your location?
- What is your organization, including group and sub-group?
- What is your job role?
- How many years have you worked in the organization?
2. Multiple Choice Questions: For each of the following knowledge resource web sites, please answer the first question. If the answer is “Yes,” please also answer the second question. Provide a complete list of knowledge resources currently available in your organization. Use the list of tools above to help identify and categorize the resources.
a. In the last 30 days, have you used this web site?
- Don’t Know
b. If you have used the site in the last 30 days, how useful is this web site to you in your work?
- Very useful
- Moderately useful
- Not useful
- Don’t Know
3. Open-ended Questions
- Are there other valuable knowledge resources you use frequently? If so, what are they?
- When you want to share your knowledge, where do you go first?
- When you need to find knowledge to help you innovate, where do you go first?
- When you need to find knowledge to reuse, where do you go first?
- When you want to collaborate with colleagues, where do you go first?
- When you need to find knowledge to help you learn, where do you go first?
- Do you have comments about any of the knowledge resources mentioned in the survey?
- What knowledge resources would you like to see added or created?
- Are there knowledge resources you would like to see improved? If so, how?
- What knowledge resources do you need to access but don’t know if or where they exist?
Here is an example of how all nine questions might be answered in a consulting firm:
1. Which job families in your organization need to participate in the KM program?
- Project managers
2. What are the different roles that participants will need to play?
- Consultants: need to collaborate as members of project teams and communities of practice
- Project managers: need to reuse content from previous projects an contribute details about new ones
- Managers: need to ensure that consultants and project managers perform their expected roles
- KM leaders: need to provide the required people, process, and technology components
3. Who are the key stakeholders and leaders to line up in support of the new initiatives?
- Senior executive: sponsor program, provide funding, communicate regularly, establish goals, and inspect ongoing performance
- Management team: lead by example, ensure goals are defined, and reward good performance
- Thought leaders: lead communities, endorse processes, and use tools
4. What existing processes need to be modified to incorporate KM activities?
- Project team collaboration: replace ad hoc email and file sharing with use of standard team spaces
- Employee goal setting and reward: add KM-specific goals and rewards
5. What new processes need to be created?
- Capture: collect project information and documents
- Reuse: search for existing content and contacts from previous projects and employ as much as possible in new projects
6. What policies will need to be changed or created to ensure desired behaviors?
- Collaboration: ensure that all project teams use standard team spaces
- Capture and Reuse: ensure that the capture and reuse processes are followed
7. What existing tools can be used in support of the new initiatives?
- Threaded discussions
- Virtual meeting rooms
8. What new tools will need to be created or obtained?
- Collaborative team spaces
- Structured repositories
9. What integration of tools and systems will be required?
- Threaded discussions with email and search
- Collaborative team spaces and structured repositories with email, search, and workflow
Planning a KM initiative includes determining who will participate, which processes and tools are required, and how tools should be integrated. Take the time to do this carefully in the planning stage, so you don’t have to spend more time later dealing with problems.
Virtual teams, including those focused on knowledge exchange, are widespread. There are many effective virtual channels for knowledge sharing.
Team spaces are collaborative workspaces designed for teams to share documents, libraries, schedules, files and other building blocks of knowledge.
An organizational intranet is a key part of a knowledge management program; knowledge managers should be sure to leverage the intranet for KM purposes.
Knowledge managers should incorporate the principles of good usability into the KM system user interface.