The eighth step in the 12 Steps to KM Success is to define governance for your KM program. Please read on for more detail.
Define how the KM program will be governed. This includes:
- Roles and job descriptions for KM leaders, project leaders, and knowledge assistants
- Composition of program staff, virtual teams, and leader communities
- Objectives and schedules for recurring conference calls and meetings
- Processes for creating and updating the plan of record and schedules for implementation, new releases, and reporting
- Process for decision making
In this first in a series of three posts, roles and job descriptions will be discussed. Subsequent posts will cover the remaining four topics.
Roles and job descriptions for KM leaders, project leaders, and knowledge assistants
A knowledge manager should be assigned to lead the KM efforts of an entire organization, or any group within an organization. In this role, they will be the KM leader for their group. In the ideal case, this is a full-time job, but in some cases for smaller groups, it may be a part-time role.
Appoint a KM leader for the organization as a whole, and group KM leaders for each key group within the organization. Groups include regions, large countries, business units, functions, and major work teams.
Depending on the size of the organization and the available resources, project leaders should be assigned to lead the key efforts included in the implementation plan. Project leaders should report directly to the KM leader for the organization.
The project leaders should work closely together as a team. Projects will regularly overlap between these categories, but assign one team member as the leader for each, and enable and lead collaboration on a regular basis.
A project leader needs to perform the following tasks.
- Define, maintain, and implement their portion of the plan of record for the assigned area of responsibility. This provides the details of the projects planned and being worked on.
- Report regularly on progress. This keeps other members of the KM community informed on the latest status and the availability of future enhancements.
- Resolve problems in the assigned area of responsibility. This provides the response to users who report difficulties, malfunctions, and unacceptable performance.
- Actively participate in communities. This allows desired behaviors to be modeled and connections to be made with users.
- Network with KM leaders and other project leaders. Use social networks to be aware of prevailing conditions and to be responsive to needs.
If possible, appoint project leaders for people, process, and technology projects. If this is not possible, combine categories based on the backgrounds of the project leaders. Make the extra effort to select strong candidates with solid reputations, since the work that is performed (or not performed) by these people will determine in large part how the overall KM initiative is perceived.
The people project leader serves as the liaison from the KM team to the Human Resources organization to coordinate all HR development and support for KM. They are responsible for all people components used in the KM program.
The process project leader serves as the liaison from the KM team to the operations organization to coordinate all business process and methodology development and support for KM. They are responsible for all process components used in the KM program.
The technology project leader serves as the liaison from the KM team to the Information Technology organization to coordinate all IT development and support for KM. They are responsible for KM tools, including all technology components used in the KM program.
Providing a human connection to knowledge sources is important to the success of a KM program. Relying only on automated resources leaves open the possibility that some users may not be able to take advantage of what is available. Knowledge assistants provide support to users by phone or email.
A knowledge assistant needs to perform the following tasks.
- Help users learn about and use all knowledge management components. Provide consulting on processes and tools.
- Facilitate collaboration. Connect people to others who can help them or whom they can help.
- Direct users to the right knowledge sources based on their specific needs. Locate relevant knowledge resources.
- Assist users in searching for content and knowledge. Find reusable content.
- Actively offer assistance to work teams. Engage by contacting users, not just waiting for requests to arrive.
- Review content submitted to repositories for compliance to quality standards, and follow up as required to improve quality.
- Solicit user feedback. Direct feedback to the right person within the KM team.
- Conduct training. Create and record self-paced courses.
- Search for information to help meet deadlines. Send search results to users who are not connected to the network.
- Network with other knowledge assistants. Back each other up. Help respond to requests. Take over open requests at the end of the workday based on being in different time zones.
Good knowledge assistants must be able to relate to others and put them at ease. They should have good communications skills, be able to quickly learn about tools and processes, and be eager to be of help to users. They should have experience in one or more of the following areas: knowledge management, collaboration, help desks, intranet/Internet searching, and peer-to-peer networking.
Appoint an organization knowledge assistant leader to coordinate efforts between all other knowledge assistants. This can be a role assigned to one of the KM leaders in addition to their other duties.
Assign additional knowledge assistants for each key group within the organization. Groups include regions, large countries, business units, functions, and major work teams.
The next post will cover organization structure and meetings.
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.