Choosing the RIGHT technology for KM

April 11, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

This is a question that a lot of you might have battled with at some point in time and if i’m not mistaken continue to do so. Before we get into the “meat” of this post let me sum it up for you , there is NO right technology for KM.

While we all agree KM is more of a cultural initiative, there is no doubting that without a solid technology backbone chances are you’re heading down a dark road.

I’ve reviewed a large number of applications that claim to provide the perfect KM solution, and guess what? they don’t. No surprise there for those of you who’ve spent time trying to find an application that suites your needs. Please feel free to disagree with me, and if you’ve stumbled upon that “Perfect” KM tool do leave a comment. I’m sure the rest of my readers would love to get their hands on that information, as would I.

Traditionally speaking, a large percentage of corporates seem to have gone the Microsoft way. Starting at Sharepoint 2001 then migrating to 2003 and now 2007. The reason this is the case is because unlike certain other very specific applications like documentum which cost the earth, Microsoft’s Sharepoint is a lot cheaper and integrates extremely well with all its other products. Let’s face it, MS Office Suite is the basic technology foundation upon which almost every company works on.

I’m currently working on a MOSS 2007 deployment, and while this isn’t my first choice for a KM product, certain constraints ( like those i mentioned above ) prevent me from going in any other direction. Though, i was pleasantly surprised to see certain major improvements in the technology (There are a number of posts on MOSS 2007 in my blog if you are interested).

At the end of the day, If you want an application that is simple and easy enough to use – get one that provides the very basic features right out of the box. However, if you have more specific requirements i’d advise you to develop one from scratch.

This is a balancing act, if you have a great technology team to back you up its probably a good idea to go this route. I’m certain you’ll find open source applications that cater to your every requirement. Its just a matter of integrating them to ensure that you get a functionally seamless tool.

Would also appreciate it if you could leave comments on the various tools that you’ve used and the benefits and drawbacks you’ve observed.


Knowledge Management and Technology

April 9, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

When i started this blog the underlying reason was that there was a huge disparity between what i’ve read about knowledge management and the way its actually implemented in most organizations.

If you ask any KM expert about whether there is a standard method of implementing KM chances are he/she would probably say there isn’t one. It entirely depends on what your goals are and how these processes are received by your audience. At the end of the day, that is what really matters. The greatest KM Framework would still flounder if there isn’t buy-in from the grass roots level.

It has always been stated that Knowledge Management is not about technology. However from what i’ve seen in most companies (these are relatively large corporates which have their people spread all over the globe) technology seems to be the backbone of the KM initiative. Unless you have a platform that allows people to extract the information they want and allow them to contribute to the system, chances are your KM strategy will not work.

This is because the average employee in the organization is so focused on his job that anything above and beyond is considered an effort. Though, dont expect people to come running just because you have built a system. There has to be a benefit to the employee, this can either be in the form of making his job easier to do, or providing an incentive for him to contribute to the system.

There are exceptions however, the whole open source community is built on a knowledge management model. The initiatives here aren’t driven by incentives – and while there were skeptics, at the end of the day these have showed us that knowledge management can sustain itself in the long run.

I’ve tried to put down the basics of KM in the form of strategies that you might want to use to create an underlying framework to tackle an initiative like this. You can read those articles here.

The bottom line is, regardless of what technology you use, at the end of the day you need to get your people the right information at the right time, with as little effort as possible.

MS Wiki Vs Wiki

April 2, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

Right, i’ve already put up two prior posts on the wiki functionality thats available on MOSS 2007 ( Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007 ) , You can read them here and here.

Now while it’s a great thing that Microsoft have finally awoken to the wonder that is the wiki, an in-depth look at the functionality would give an average wiki user the shudders.

While it is true that MS Wiki ( thats what i’m going to call it going forward ) does have a few of the basic features that we’ve come to expect of any wiki, the features it doesn’t have really makes you wonder if this isn’t a 1.0 version that’s been launched on the unsuspecting public.

Being a fan of mediawiki i’ve come to expect that all other wiki’s display the same high standards ( i’m pushing it here i know ) . But basic things like a categories function seem to be missing from the MS Wiki package. Which means that grouping the “articles” you create becomes a logistics nightmare. The only actual wiki feature that microsoft have managed to incorporate into the product is a web based UI and an interlinking feature ( i dont consider versioning a true innovation as its functionality derived off MOSS 2007 ).

So, to sum it up…….. What Microsoft seem to have done is create a web based front end for microsoft word, and slipped in a interlinking system and called it a wiki. Even with the versioning system this is probably the simplest and least effective wiki i have come across ( Please feel free to disagree with me if you’ve seen worse ). I truly hope they plan to move to a “2.0” version quickly, ’cause i dont see people waiting till MOSS ’09.

ROI for Knowledge Management, Continued…..

March 27, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

Since i launched this blog a little over a month ago i have recieved a considerable number of responses. While a few of my readers do take the time to leave a comment against a post. There are a large number that send their comments via mail.

I have chosen to put a few of these in my blog as i would hate for my other readers to miss out on this information ( the post was way too large to have it sitting idle in my comments section ) .

Joseph M. Firestone who is the CEO of KMCI sent me one such mail which contains some information regarding the topic of ROI for knowledge management.

The ROI issue in KM is one that surfaces fairly frequently. I think the issue is part of the larger problem of developing good metrics for knowledge processing and KM activities and direct outcomes, But it’s also closely related to the problem of modeling KM impact on other activities and outcomes in the enterprise that it effects indirectly.

If I recall correctly, there was a recent discussion of KM and ROI in the actkm list serv group which you may have seen earlier. It was a pretty good interchange and covered many of the main issues surrounding the subject. I’ve written a few things either on KM and ROI or closely related to it. One piece is here:

http://kmci. org/media/ KMBenefitEstimat ionrev1.PDF

A second is downloadable from the Cutter Consortium site. Go here first:

http://www.adaptive metricscenter. com/media/ BSCdevelopmentsa ndchallenges. pdf

Then here:

http://www.cutter. com/offers/ adaptivescore. html

and download the adaptive scorecard report using their promotion code.

In addition, I’ve also developed a Software Template using Expert Choice providing a very detailed hierarchical ontology identifying descriptors and metrics relating to knowledge and KM processes and knowledge outcomes. The measurement models themselves can be developed using this ontology, along with the measurement methodology (The Analytic Hierarchy Process) associated with Expert Choice. The template is called the Open Enterprise Template because it provides a framework for measuring progress towards the Open Enterprise (See http://www.dkms. com/papers/ openenterpriseex cerptnumb1final. pdf) for more on the Open Enterprise.

Finally, I’ll point out that the issue of ROI is also not a straightforward one because of the issue of monetary ROI versus ROI in terms of values. We know that the relationship between money and value is a non-linear one so that, in general, a person’s first $1,000 units of currency are worth far more than the same person’s last $1,000 units when that person has become a billionaire (at least relative to the person). The fact that the relationship is non-linear raises the issue of value interpretation of improvements in monetary assests resulting from business activities including KM. The paper I’ve mentioned above discusses the value interpretation question and the Open Enterprise Template combined with the AHP methodology provides a way of handling it. The paper also contends that measurement techniques are needed that will allow comparison of monetary and non-monetary values on the same measurement scale.The adaptive scorecard paper puts the possibility of value interpretation
into both KM and Balanced Scorecard contexts

Please feel to comment on any of the other posts as well to enable further discussions on the subject.

ROI for Knowledge Management

March 26, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

As with every business venture , unless there is a solid case built on the ROI chances are the initiative wouldn’t get the backing of the executive team. It’s a numbers game, and without a clear indication of some benefit, in terms of a dollar figure, it get more and more difficult to justify the costs.

Now the reason i started up this post is to get an idea of how companies , if at all, calculate the ROI on a knowledge management initiative. Based on my experience, figuring out where the knowledge is and getting it to flow is tough enough, adding a number value to it seems next to impossible . Sure , there have been methods where people have attempted to calculate it. But the question of a methodology robust enough to calculate the ROI of a KM intiative doesn’t seem to be here as yet, then again i could be wrong.

So, if any of you have managed to implement an accurate ROI calculation in a KM environment i’d love to hear about it. Do leave a comment , against this post so other people can get involved in this discussion.

Driving Innovation

March 21, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

In order to drive innovation in your company you need to have an innovative way of tackling the rewards and recognition system, which is the cornerstone of any such initiative.

Considering employees do have needs for achievement and status, definining and creating systems and processes that rewards employees based on their innovation would be an ideal way to tackle something like this. However the issue of how a structured rewards and recognition system encourages employees to change their behaviour must also be studied in depth before one is rolled out.

There are certain things you must look at as an organization if you want to foster an atmosphere of innovation. These basics will give you a foothold with which you could promote innovation in the organization.

The first step would be creating a team that maps out a innovation road map for the company, its framework, goals and expectations.

As discussed earlier, since the rewards and recognition program would form the cornerstone of this initiative. Consistent acknowledgement of those who contribute ideas, knowledge, and time must also be done. It is also very important for the senior management to recognize innovative design teams and champions, while peers should typically nominate and recognize teammates for their contributions to the overall effort.

One of the biggest motivators of innovation for an employee is recognition, so while implementing a rewards program ( monetary or otherwise ), keep in mind that for the long term success of the program you need to make innovation self-rewarding. Being perceived as an expert by peers and the management acts as a huge incentive to employees.

It is also important to provide recognition to volunteers, change agents, and model innovators. Associating names with such changes and improvements automatically increases the employees self-worth and willingness to engage in future endeavours.

“Spread the word” – is a great way to increase visibility across the organization for success stories and the people behind them. The benefits of a medium like this would include greater buy-in for the initiative.

And finally, linking innovation to the core cultural values of the organization should be the last step. Only once this is accomplished can you call the organization a true innovator.

Leadership Expectations…

March 16, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

For any initiative to succeed and be accepted across an organization it requires some serious leadership buy-in. This is more so in the case of Knowledge Management. There are certain things that leaders can do to promote the sharing of knowledge in the organization.

Tie your initiatives to your vision: Create and publish an integrated mission, vision, and values statement that endorses and sustains learning and transfer. It’s very important to showcase success stories at each executive meeting. Unless there is a clear indication of progress the executive backing for an initiative like this will quickly die out.

There has to be an emphasis on re-enforcing management commitment to identifying new ideas and removing barriers to progress. This has to be built on top of a robust rewards and recognition program, and most importantly, make sure you have the right people working on this.

The management as a rule is always looked up to for direction, and its the same with knowledge management, lead by example and show commitment to learning through action. Tell employee groups that the most important thing is to share and use best practices.

Once this has been accomplished start rolling out these initiatives across the rest of the organization.