Smoothly integrating KM processes, workflows, platforms, applications, systems, and software makes life easier for users and delivers improved business results.
In this second part of a three-part series, I’ll suggest ways to integrate IT systems and platforms in support of a knowledge management program. Lucidea invites you to a companion free webinar on May 20, 2020 (subscription link at the foot of this post).
Platform integration for a Knowledge Management (KM) program means working with your partners in the Information Technology (IT) department to make KM tools work effectively with standard platforms. This allows KM systems to take advantage of functionality available outside those systems, and for standard platforms to provide data to, and obtain data from, KM systems.
Integrate knowledge management with widely used business platforms. Feed data into these systems, extract data from them and feed it into KM systems, connect workflows, and enable enterprise search to find content. Here are examples of popular platforms to consider.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Salesforce Sales Cloud, Oracle CRM, Microsoft Dynamics 365
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): SAP, Oracle NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics 365
- Human Capital Management (HCM): SAP SuccessFactors, Workday, Oracle PeopleSoft
The four major technology platforms provide multiple opportunities for integration. Take advantage of their capabilities for knowledge management, office automation, artificial intelligence, and multimedia content. Here are suggested products and features to tap.
- Amazon: Books, Prime Video, Ordering, Alexa
- Apple: App Store, News, TV, Podcasts, Siri
- Google: Play, Books, Search, News, Scholar, Maps, Photos, YouTube, Translate, Docs, Duo, G Suite, Assistant, Hangouts
- Microsoft: Active Directory, Store, Cortana, Skype, LinkedIn, Office 365: Outlook, OneNote, Teams, SharePoint, Yammer
The IT department typically provides enterprise-wide platforms that individual business units and functions can leverage. KM should take advantage of these systems to avoid duplicating functionality, to obtain needed information, and to feed content that others are seeking. Here are examples of how to do this.
Single Sign On (SSO): A single set of login credentials allows users to access all the applications relevant to them once they are on the network. This makes password management simple for individuals and for IT staff. SSO should work for all systems, including KM.
Virtual Private Network (VPN): It should be possible for all employees and contractors to access enterprise systems from anywhere. This is especially true now when many people are working from home. A VPN allows users to login to secure systems and not have to come into the office to do so. External and remote access should be provided to all systems, including KM.
Enterprise Activity Stream: Provide a single place to observe and interact with all events occurring in the various business systems and workflows. Integrating feeds from CRM, ERP, HCM and other business platforms with the Enterprise Social Network (ESN) allows notifications, comments, and discussions to be associated with each event. The activity stream connects people interested in the same transactions and provides a transcript of key events.
Enterprise Search: Your search application should be allowed to crawl all other systems and repositories so that it can return all possible results. Link it to specialized databases, applications, and collaboration tools. If it is not possible to directly crawl certain content, provide a link to the search engine that can be used for that content. Enable internal search to feed an external search engine such as Google so that results outside the firewall can be optionally returned along with internal ones.
Intranet: The corporate intranet should be the gateway to all internal web pages, systems, and repositories. It provides an integrated user experience through a standard user interface, a consistent navigation hierarchy, an A-Z index, and an enterprise knowledge map.
Enterprise Taxonomy: Defining a standard classification scheme arranged in a hierarchical structure can be used to organize information so that it can be readily found through navigation, search, and links between related content. Adopting a single taxonomy across the entire enterprise is a way of integrating diverse content.
Content Management System (CMS) and Electronic Document Management System (EDMS): The KM environment should include a CMS and/or an EDMS or use existing instances of these rather than replicating them or using different ones.
Metrics and Reporting: If your enterprise has standard analytics tools for web page access, document usage, collaboration, and other activities, use these for KM metrics and reporting. KM metrics that can be published as part of regular business reports will get more attention than if produced separately.
Employee Directory: Use standard HR databases for expertise location, project staffing, and social software profiles. Avoid requiring people to have to enter the same personal information over and over.
Office Automation: KM applications that are tightly integrated with corporate email, calendar, and contacts will achieve higher levels of adoption than those that are not. This is because even though everyone complains about email, they also regularly check it. Threaded discussions and ESNs should allow email to be used to post and reply. Community events should appear in personal calendars, provide reminders, and be linked to agenda pages for each meeting. Community membership rosters should be reflected in the Employee Directory and fed to personal contact lists.
External Content: Connect internal information libraries and communities to sources located outside the firewall. These include market research (product intelligence, competitive intelligence, customer intelligence, and market intelligence), subscriptions (news, press releases, databases, industry data, analyst reports, periodicals, blogs, podcasts, streaming video, and audio books), and other online resources (websites, repositories, libraries, archives, knowledge bases, forums, and communities).
In the third part of this series, I will discuss software 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. Read Stan’s posts for our Think Clearly blog, and learn about Inmagic Presto, which has helped build the knowledge ecosystems of many organizations.
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Best practices for KM include avoiding 40 common pitfalls; this post outlines the third 10 observed by knowledge management expert Stan Garfield