Effective process, platform and software integration can help achieve a productive knowledge management ecosystem. Smoothly integrating processes, workflows, platforms, applications, systems, and software makes life easier for users and delivers improved business results.
In this first part of a three-part series, I’ll suggest ways to integrate business processes in support of a knowledge management program. There will be a companion free webinar on May 20, 2020 (subscription link at the foot of this post).
Process integration for a Knowledge Management (KM) program means embedding knowledge management into the flow of work, connecting separate business systems to get knowledge flowing between them, and spanning boundaries to break down organizational barriers. To achieve this level of integration, you have to work with multiple business units and functions, other enterprises, and especially, your partners in the Information Technology (IT) department.
Seek out business units, functions, and departments that are not yet using knowledge sharing tools that could benefit their operations. Propose, pilot, and implement such tools for them. For example, in the marketing function, integrate blogging into their communications processes. For the IT help desk, integrate threaded discussions into their support processes. In the Human Resources (HR) function, integrate skills profiling and expertise location with the personnel database. In Learning & Development (L&D), integrate proven practices and lessons learned into the Learning Management System (LMS).
Integrating KM into Business Systems
Identify business processes that are related but not yet fully integrated through technology. Map the existing workflows between these processes and identify gaps that should be addressed through new workflows. Propose new and improved ways to connect processes through shared data, standard procedure calls, and software modifications. Here are examples of business systems and the KM components that can be used to integrate process within those systems.
- Sales and Marketing
- Business: Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Sales Management, Marketing Management, Lead Generation and Tracking, Order Processing and eCommerce, Reservation Management
- KM: workflow, process automation, analytics and business intelligence, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, blogs, podcasts and videos, portals, repositories, wikis, syndication, aggregation, and subscription management systems, content management
- Business: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Operations Support, Engineering, Manufacturing, Distribution, Logistics, Inventory and Stock Control, Scheduling, Process Control, Procurement
- KM: workflow, process automation portals, analytics and business intelligence, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, portals, repositories, wikis
- Research & Development (R&D) and Medical
- Business: Research Management, Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), Scientific Information Management, Intellectual Property Management, Clinical Information System (CIS), Hospital Information System (HIS), Electronic Medical Record (EMR), Electronic Health Record (EHR), Drug Information System (DIS)
- KM: creation, workflow, process automation, analytics and business intelligence, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, portals, repositories, wikis
- Business: Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, General Ledger, Budgeting and Planning, Forecasting and Reporting, Expense Management, Funds Transfer, Investment and Portfolio Management, Shareholder and SEC, Tax Processing
- KM: workflow, process automation, analytics and business intelligence, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, valuation, portals, repositories, wikis
- Human Resources
- Business: Human Capital Management (HCM), Talent Management, Recruiting and Hiring, Personnel Data, Payroll, Staffing, Performance Management, Time Entry, Expense Reporting, Travel, eLearning, Learning Management System (LMS)
- KM: workflow, process automation, analytics and business intelligence, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, portals, repositories, wikis
- Business: Executive Information System (EIS), Management Information System (MIS), Decision Support System (DSS)
- KM: proven practices, analytics and business intelligence, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, portals, repositories, wikis
- Program Management
- Business: Portfolio Management, Project Management, Project Team Collaboration
- KM: capture, reuse, lessons learned, proven practices, collaboration, team spaces, web/video/audio conferencing, portals, repositories, wikis
Process integration can have enormous value in creating new connections across previously isolated organizational silos. Boundary spanning integrates people who are not part of the same work unit. Here are examples of how to use KM approaches to do so.
- Weave together multiple functions and business units
- Example: Connect people in R&D, Engineering, Manufacturing, Distribution, Marketing, Sales, Manufacturing, Finance, and HR.
- KM: communities, threaded discussions and Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs), social network analysis, appreciative inquiry and positive deviance, lessons learned, proven practices, collaboration, team spaces, web/video/audio conferencing, repositories, gamification applications, expertise locators and ask the expert, blogs, wikis
- Collaborate internally
- Example: Create a single activity stream showing all business tasks.
- KM: communities, threaded discussions and Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs), social network analysis, social software and social media, expertise locators and ask the expert, blogs, wikis, workflow applications
- Collaborate externally
- Example: Connect internal project teams with partners and customers.
- KM: collaboration, team spaces, web/video/audio conferencing, external access
- Integrate a new workforce
- Example: Welcome the members of a newly acquired company.
- KM: management of change, communities, threaded discussions and Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs), social network analysis, expertise locators, external access
In the second part of this series, I will discuss platform integration.
KM expert, consultant and author, Stan Garfield, will be presenting the next in a series of KM Conversations for Lucidea on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at 11:00 am Pacific, 2:00 pm Eastern—subscribe here to be notified. Stan has compelling information to share, based on his distinguished career as a KM practitioner. Read his posts for our Think Clearly blog, and learn about Inmagic Presto, which has powered the KM initiatives of many organizations.
Knowledge managers must establish links between different groups; this is boundary spanning; enabling discovery (learning from existing data) is key
Creating and executing a KM program plan involves implementing people, process, and technology knowledge flows that achieve objectives
How a KM program is governed is key to success. Knowledge managers should pay close attention to getting this right, and it will deliver results later.
Knowledge managers must define KM program governance, including team composition, virtual teams, and leader communities